My 13-year-old doesn’t have a cell phone.
Does he want one? Sure. So does my four-year-old.
I realize this isn’t a popular decision. I also don’t care.
Having a phone is a big responsibility and I don’t take it lightly and I don’t want kids who take it lightly either.
A phone is a privilege, not a right. There is no reason for us to spend an extra 50+ bucks for our kids to have a phone. If they want to call someone, they can use our phones. If they want to play games, we have tablets they can enjoy. They don’t need texting because they can just call their friends if they want to talk to them.
Deciding whether to let your child have a phone depends on many things and every family has different circumstances. Here are the factors I currently use when deciding if our 13-year-old (or any of our children) should have a phone.
Reasons I won’t be letting my child have a phone
- Everyone else has one. Ok, first of all, that’s an exaggeration. But the point is just because their friends have one, does not mean my kids need one.
- It’s expensive. Phones are expensive. Plans are expensive. Enough said.
- It’s not a necessity. It’s not a necessity at this point. Our lifestyle allows that we are together most of the time, instead of spread out at multiple locations, so it’s just not needed to keep in touch. If our kids were in multiple activities and I worked outside the home I can see how it would be necessary to stay connected to everyone.
Reasons I will let my child have a phone
- Safety. When my kids are driving, I will probably want them to have a phone. It will also give me peace of mind as they start to do more things on their own.
- They can pay for it. I’m not going to lie, I think if kids want cell phones, then they should be responsible enough to have a way to pay for it. It’s also more likely they will take care of it when it’s their money on the line.
- To stay connected. Right now everyone is homeschooled and they are in limited activities so we are usually all in the same place. As they get older and have more things going on it would be nice to stay connected to know where everyone is and things like when they need to be picked up or dropped off at certain times in certain places. But we aren’t there yet.
Are these reasons set in stone? No. Is my child only going to get a phone if the pay for it? Not necessarily. I don’t want to draw this line in the sand that we are going to follow these concrete rules when circumstances could change and it could be quite necessary to give our 13-year-old a phone. But that day is not today.
Kids are already growing up learning to communicate through technology instead of face to face. I think it is smart to hold it off as long as possible. As our kids get older and the need, actual need, to have a phone comes into play, we can re-evaluate our decision.
Although honestly, I would only provide a basic phone with basic service. Until a child is responsible enough to go get a job to pay for a smartphone and the plan needed to use it, I don’t see a reason why they need one.
I am the parent, not Santa Claus. My goal is to raise responsible adults who understand you have to work for the things you want. Smartphones for kids are not a right and at this point in time, I have no plan to provide them for my children.
When do you think a child is old enough for their own phone?