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Cell Phones for Children: What's the Best Age?

My oldest daughter will turn 10 years old in a month. For the second year in a row, the only, and I mean absolutely only, present she wants is a cell phone. We tried, to no avail, to bribe her with a birthday slumber party and a trip to New York City for her and a few friends. But no, she wants a cell phone, and only a cell phone will do.

Am I being overprotective? Irrational? Or worse yet, a mean mom?

While I consider myself to be a hip and modern mom, I also have traditional values. Each day, the conventional mother in me goes to battle with my inner pre-teen. At the end of the day, I come to the same conclusion: 10 years old is too young for a cell phone, too young to handle the responsibility of a cell phone. Cell phones should be functional, first and foremost. The fun should be secondary. Something tells me that in the eyes of a 10 year old, a cell phone is anything but functional.

In this day and age, kids seem to be grow up at a rate that far exceeds those of previous generations. Why the rush? Why aren't kids running carefree in the backyard? Oh, that's right. They are too busy texting and emailing from smart phones in the confines of their bedrooms. There will be plenty of time for cell phones later. Kids should be kids. Period.

What my daughter fails to understand is the responsibility that comes with "owning" a cell phone. For starters, she can't seem to keep tabs on her library books. Why should I think a cell phone won't get lost within the first week? What about minutes and text messages? She doesn't have the capacity to monitor her numbers and keep them within the set boundaries. And I'm not sure unlimited texting would be a smart option for her. Cell phones 

Bottom line is this: there is no good reason for her to have a cell phone. She can't take it to school with her, and when she's home, she can use her laptop to email, her iPod Touch to text, and the land line to call friends.

So why do I feel so guilty refusing her???

Mom guilt. Can't live with it. It wouldn't be motherhood without it.

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Comment by Sheila Hill on April 22, 2012 at 7:58pm

Thanks, Stacey, as always for wonderful advice. I'm definitely not going to cave. And thankfully, my husband and I see eye to eye on this issue. :)

Comment by Stacey Crew on April 19, 2012 at 10:17am

She'll get over it. :) I stood firm on my oldest needing to be 13 to join Facebook, which is what it's supposed to be. I had to endure days, weeks and months of "When can I have a Facebook?" and I naturally responded, "When you're 13." In the end, it was the best decision not to cave and my daughter respected me for it. Be strong! :) You know the right answer!! 

Comment by Hackensack Meridian Health on April 16, 2012 at 2:36pm

Tough decision, but I think a lot of moms would feel the same. 


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