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How old were your kids when you let them get a phone? My daughter is 10 and her best friend (also 10) just got an iPhone. DD tells me that all of her friends have phones. I'm sure that's an exaggeration but I'm beginning to suspect that it's largely true. 

We keep saying no but it's getting harder to put this off. 

 

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DS got his phone last year at 16+ when he got his driver's license. DD is almost 14 and she doesn't have a phone. It is true that many kids have phones by age 10, but we put it off as long as possible.

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21 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

How old were your kids when you let them get a phone? My daughter is 10 and her best friend (also 10) just got an iPhone. DD tells me that all of her friends have phones. I'm sure that's an exaggeration but I'm beginning to suspect that it's largely true. 

We keep saying no but it's getting harder to put this off. 

 

Ds20 was 12 but I only got it for him because of the divorce and I wanted him to be able to reach me when he was with his dad. I agree with @mom2scouts put it off as long as possible.

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My 14 year old got hers at 13. She probably wouldn't have gotten it except that the physical phone was a hand-me-down from my mom; my parents added her to their plan to get unlimited data. So...free. 

Youngest (12) has a hand-me-down that isn't activated. She uses it for apps and such. 

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We got a phone for DD24 when she was 13.  At that time, iphones were new, but they were everywhere.  The reason she got a phone was because we had hit a point where she was doing activities with school or friends, and needed to get a hold of us, but there was no payphone available.  In fact, I remember clearly....she had gone on an after school club activity.  They got back to the school about an hour early.  She borrowed someone else's phone to call me because her school didn't have a payphone anywhere in the school.  And then, because I was pregnant AND had a baby to get into a seat, it took *time* for me to get it all together to get her.  By the time I was on the road, most of the kids were already gone and she had to use the teacher's phone.....who was also really ready to go.   SO...that told me it was time.  

For my younger kids, they all have birthdays coming up in the next few months but are currently 11, 9, and 7.  We recently purchased a Gabb phone to have here at home so that I can start teaching them about being home alone.  Eventually, as needed, that will become DD11's phone and when she's ready for a smart phone (which will probably be another 2 or 3 yrs IMO) then it will pass down to DD9.  And that cycle will continue.  

One thing I will say, when DD24 got "her own phone" it was a gift, and included the gift of 6 months of service.  After that, we required that she maintain her own service (and she had a job to do so.)  I am sure that as things evolve we will do something similar with the younger kids, as their abilities and opportunities dictate.  

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We chose middle school or whenever the kids were away from us long enough to call for a ride. They each started with hand-me-downs at 11/12. DD got her first new phone as an 8th grader. She paid with her own (gifted) money for iPhoneX and the screen is now a cracked disaster. We refused to replace it b/c we knew she wasn't ready for such an expensive phone. She's decided, as an older teen, there are better ways to save/spend her money. Lessons were leaned, for her. DS is perfectly happy with his hand-me-down and is so cheap he may graduate from HS with that phone.

Edited by Sneezyone
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My son got his phone when he turned 11. But it had more to do with needing a phone because he was going to be going off to school/coming home when we were not at home. So if something happened with the bus not picking him up/missing the bus, he needed to be able to contact us (And he had BOTH problems happen on the first day of school so it turned out to be useful)

 

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2 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

My son got his phone when he turned 11. But it had more to do with needing a phone because he was going to be going off to school/coming home when we were not at home. So if something happened with the bus not picking him up/missing the bus, he needed to be able to contact us (And he had BOTH problems happen on the first day of school so it turned out to be useful)

 

 

Same. Not the first day but my kids have called me about traffic accidents involving their buses that caused delays, cancelled after school activities, etc.

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6 minutes ago, === said:

They got flip phones and computers when they began college.  So late teens, early 20's.  

Before that, dh and I had flip phones, and we had one flip phone that was a house phone for anyone at home when dh and I weren't there with our phones.  

We all got our first smart phones in 2016 (?), I think. Android S7's, which we still have.   And we only got those because dc were beginning to travel a lot and needed the maps feature.  And dh and I had moved 12 hours away from dc, so we needed the maps feature, too.   And the photo feature for emergencies (wrecks, etc.) - and fun, of course.  Plus, the speaker feature was so much better than the flip phones we had.

I do miss my flip phone though.  So easy to carry.  And not like staring at a TV. 

Flip phones have become a lot more difficult to find.

My son has one but my husband had a hard time finding one that had good audio quality so is settling for a Android something or other  at the moment.

Edited by vonfirmath
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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

How old were your kids when you let them get a phone? My daughter is 10 and her best friend (also 10) just got an iPhone. DD tells me that all of her friends have phones. I'm sure that's an exaggeration but I'm beginning to suspect that it's largely true. 

We keep saying no but it's getting harder to put this off. 

 

Mine are 15.5 and still don’t have phones.  They haven’t needed it to contact me- so many others have phones around them,and they got in the habit of emailing me for pickups etc from their school iPads.

I understand they might miss out on the iPhone social networking stuff, but I don’t consider that a loss.  They have email, zoom, FaceTime, and a regular house phone that they can use.  I’m not buying a phone so that they can text and send photos and who knows what else.  It isn’t an emergency.

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The age my kids got phones was the age I needed them to have a phone.  That was 10 for one of my kids.  She was dancing 5+ days a weeks, there was regularly not someone answering the phone at her studio.  For my other kids it was age 12 when he started more committed theater productions.  My kids have friends I would have waited longer.  It is nice for them to have some supervised practice at home before launching.  So I wouldn't wait until 18 either.  

ETA - I was going to mention, my kids don't get data plans until they have a license and then they get very basic data plans for mapping.  Their phones use wireless (unlimited text/calls) and always needed to be kept in the main area of our house.  My college student still docks his at night in our dining room even though I wouldn't enforce that for him any more.  LOL.   

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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DS got a new iPhone X a couple weeks before his 12th birthday.  I got myself one as well (merry Christmas to me).  He wasn't really anywhere without me at that point, but I was at work and honestly, I just wanted to be able to text him whenever without having to go through my parents (who live with us).  It's been oodles of fun.  He is allowed to keep it in his room and whatnot, because he checks out audio and ebooks from the library on his phone.

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When I leave my kids at the neighborhood public library (8 years old minimum) to walk to the supermarket near to library, they were required to be able to contact a parent. I forgot the exact age but  definitely by middle school.

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DD got one at about age 10, a cheap tracfone. We had it so that when we were off in rural areas with limited coverage, there was that much more chance that one of us had a phone that would work. She started college classes at age 12, and got upgraded because she needed to be able to check the class LMS for some of her classes, and possibly hotspot. 

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Our oldest two got them for Christmas in 12th grade.  It gave us time to teach them how to use it wisely before going off to college.  Neither of them had a driver's license before that.  A driver's license would have likely changed things.

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DS is 12.5 and doesn't have one. We have a landline if we need to leave him by himself at home. When he's not with a parent or at home, he's with another adult who can reach me if needed.

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It's largely true.  

Dd is 10, no phone, but we are the last of the holdouts in her social circle.  She borrows her brother's flip phone when she goes places as they are rarely both out of the house at the same time (in a pre-pandemic world). Our kids get phones when they are start going places and doing things on their own. Activities end early, drivers don't show up (shared driver pool), health issues arise....  More and more, teachers are doing activities using smart phones--with QR codes, with Cahoot, etc. Our elementary doesn't use "smart" activities but the jr high does.  My jr high son has a pay as you go smart phone for school purposes that he can use over wifi. I have really mixed feelings about that.

Phones were a huge discussion at the first grade literacy station I worked at the public school this past year. Everyone who was staying for after school activities or going on to daycare had them.  Of the rest, probably half had either phones or apple watches with connectivity. It didn't even seem to follow economic lines--half of the class lived in section 8 subsidized housing and half are in owned homes (they start at $500k for a modest 3BR--go up to about $1.2 million in our 'hood).  Even my younger daughter was a standout for being no-tech.  I don't care. We're pretty firmly anti-device for entertainment (dh works in tech) for developing brains.

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I can't remember the exact age my adult son was when he got his first one....it was when he started his first job at 17 or 18.  He got his driver's license after he had been working for a while....had he been driving prior to the job then he would have gotten a phone then.  But in our home you must have a job before you get your license.

My now 16 year old daughter doesn't have one.  She has no interest in getting one and has no need for one.  She will get one (which will be a flip phone) when she gets a job.  She was supposed to get one this summer but the pandemic squashed that.  She was also supposed to take driver's ed this summer.  Now not sure when either of these will happen.

Edited by peacelovehomeschooling
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This will be the year, but haven’t decided if 1 or 2 phones for ages 13 and 15. We don’t have a landline and they will be in the house more than ever.

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We got DD a dumb phone around age 12, because she was away from us at the dance studio five nights a week. At some point, she got my iPhone as a hand-me-down, when DH got me a new one for a gift, and her old phone became the emergency phone left at home with the other kids when no parents were there (no landline).

When DS16 was in 8th grade, and DS15 and DD15 were in 7th grade, we gave them iPhones for Christmas (and upgraded DD18's iPhone to match theirs). I was hesitant, but DS16 was going to spend five days away from us during his class Washington DC trip, and we wanted him to have a phone with him.

They were perhaps the last among their school friends to get phones.

I'm glad that we can contact them when needed, but there are definitely minefields to navigate with phone usage among kids and teens. There are aspects that have been challenging.

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My kids get a phone when it makes "my" life easier that they have one.  Typically it's when they are doing a lot of things away from me and/or another family member and I want to be able to still connect with them.  Even then, when they first get it, it's "my" phone that I allow them to use (even though it's obviously a line I'm setting up just for them).  The point is, I'm paying the bill and I have the right to say how/when they will use it and if I feel they are abusing it, it will be stored in my possession when not needed for my ease.  When they can afford their phone they can do whatever they like but when I'm paying for it they are stuck.  This has been a wonderful choice because not once have I ever had a kid complain that their phone wasn't as good as so and so's phone.  They've never once complained that their phone is too old/slow etc. They are happy to have something and accept that I have conditions. And funny enough, when they reach the point where they have to pay for.  They all scoff at the idea of paying for $500+ phones.

I specifically didn't mention age because for us we really look at the kid and circumstances and decide if it warrants a phone.  The age will vary depending on the kid.

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I think 10 is too young.  And my ds would not have got his dumb phone at 12 if he didn’t go off to his dads.  I think by 14 they need some way to connect with friends....but FaceTime from an iPad does that.....and I did want mine to be able to reach me if out with friends....I didn’t  want to have them rely on borrowing . 

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My children had simple phones just for texting and calls from about that age, because they were going out on their own for walks and I was also leaving them at activities rather than staying all the way through.  They didn't get smart phones until the were about sixteen.

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9 hours ago, Scarlett said:

I think 10 is too young.  And my ds would not have got his dumb phone at 12 if he didn’t go off to his dads.  I think by 14 they need some way to connect with friends....but FaceTime from an iPad does that.....and I did want mine to be able to reach me if out with friends....I didn’t  want to have them rely on borrowing . 

Agreed. I'm not comfortable with my kids borrowing other people's phones (which may often be expensive pieces of tech) and then be responsible for them during the time they were using them (or potentially blamed if something goes wrong later even if not their fault).  Plus then other kids have the power over my socially awkward kid to say No when he needs to contact us, etc.

 

Edited by vonfirmath
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Mine got phones at 8, because that's the age we let them walk themselves to local activities (music lessons, swimming lessons etc.)  I felt they needed a phone to be able to call me - when I was that age I used public payphones, but those really don't exist here any more.  They haven't often needed them, but it gives me peace of mind.  And when my DD caught the bus to dance class aged 10 it was super useful.

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My daughter got one when she was 11; she needed it for babysitting. Parents thought nothing of leaving her in the house with their kids, taking their phone with them (no landline), so I wanted her to have a way to contact them/me/911 if needed. 

I think my son was about the same age, maybe a little older, because he was doing things with other people and we wanted him to have a way to contact us.

So for us, it was less about age and more about need to be able to get in touch with people independently. I don't think anyone can say "x is the right age" for all kids/families.

ETA: I just remembered, my kids shared one for a while. That didn't last long, as activities started conflicting. 

Edited by marbel
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18 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

How old were your kids when you let them get a phone? My daughter is 10 and her best friend (also 10) just got an iPhone. DD tells me that all of her friends have phones. I'm sure that's an exaggeration but I'm beginning to suspect that it's largely true. 

We keep saying no but it's getting harder to put this off. 

 

LOL, I could care less about their friends.  Make sure you're restricting what they can access on their internet.
My 18yo obviously has one.
My 16yo has a phone (iphone 5s) that she does not have free access to because she'd watch YouTube or Netflix way too much.  Phones are for calling, texting, and a back up plan for driving places.  
My 15yo does not have one though he did have a 4s without a calling plan for listening to Audible.  I wouldn't dream of giving one to my 13yo, my 12yo, or my 10yo.  The screen singing its siren song is just too strong.  I need them to be kids, be present here in our home with our family, and undistracted.  It's just setting them up for failure and me up for frustration, IMO.

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Postpone as long as you can.

DS received a hand me down at 13, because he was out and about in the neighborhood and I wanted him to be able to call for help if he (heaven forbid) needed to use his epipens and there was not an adult to help him.  

His was a locked down iPhone.  Basically phone, text, GPS location services, camera and audible.   No internet.  That was it. No apps that allow access to the internet.  No apps that allow other people to post things the app users can view.  No social media.  

DD is 9.  She does not have a “phone” but because of social distancing we have not been able to see her BFF in forever.  So DD has a hand me down phone locked down like DS’s, only without actual phone service.  She can do video Hangouts with her BFF (they play games, do crafts, play dolls on video), and we let her download a few games.  She likes the Kindle app, too.  She has time limits and can’t do much without asking permission.  It doesn’t leave the house.

Both kids leave devices on my nightstand at night, and we have specific times they don’t use them.

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Ds was 9 but we would have waited a few years except a few things happened around the same time. We went to Washington, D.C. for a few days and I worried that if he got lost he'd be better off with a phone to try and contact us rather than finding a phone booth (they were still around but getting scarce) or a police officer. Around that time we decided to get rid of our landline and were also starting to leave him home alone for brief periods of time. We didn't want to leave him home without a phone or with just one that worked for 911. We wanted to be able to call him and him to call us. Lastly, he reached the age where some of his homeschool activities were drop-off. All of those things put together made us decide to get him a very basic phone. Smartphones were still too expensive even for us, let alone to give our kid. He got his first smarthphone when he was 14 but by then they were pretty much the norm. If he was young today and getting his first phone we'd probably get him a basic smartphone with parental controls. 

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