Back in 1999, when I turned 18 my friends clubbed together well over £100 and bought me my first ever Mobile Phone. It was on Vodafone, and was red in colour, it could sent text messages, and hold 30 names and numbers, that was about it. I was an adult when I got my first phone!
Obviously times are changing and now children are getting / wanting mobile phones of their own, but..
What is the right age to get your Child a Mobile Phone?
I was always thinking G would get one when she went to secondary school (next year), as at the junior school, children aren’t allowed to have them. Those who MUST take one (for whatever reason) have to surrender them to the school office at the start of the day, and then collect them at the end of the day. She would be allowed one at secondary school, but it should be off in lessons etc. So in my mind it seemed daft her having a phone she wouldn’t be able to use for the bulk of the time. It turned out her Mum wanted to get her a phone for her 10th Birthday, admittedly, I wasn’t keen on the idea. I envisaged her face down in her phone at every opportunity, and ignoring the world.
Then I started thinking about the positives. G is growing up, and wants to be more independent – she loves playing out on her bike, going to the shops, going to the park, or even playing with the kids in the next street. I think I was doing stuff like that when I was 8, but, I had the benefit of having my sister, and knocking around with a large group of children. There is safety in numbers, and to be honest, as a child, you think you’re pretty invincible anyway!
I like the fact G has means to contact me though, if she goes out, she’ll ring me and let me know if she’s gone somewhere else (like from the park to one of her little friends). It also means I can get in touch with her if need be – it’s good to keep in touch. I should worry less about her, but to me, she’s my little fragile baby, not the cheeky mosster 10-year-old lump she really is! I do really try not to baby her, or fuss, because she gets enough of that already with her being smaller than average. I want her to have independence, but it’s nice having the ‘safety net’ of being able to keep in touch.
Also, thanks to apps and things, I could use something like ‘Seek Droid’ to keep tabs on where she is – you can even set a ‘fence’ on a map, and it will warn you if the phone has left the fence. Cool eh? I’ve not had to resort to that yet, as G is largely sensible, and I trust her to tell me what she’s doing.
Also – something to consider is what handset do you choose? Again, it’s tricky because you want something good enough so they can play about with it, but nothing too expensive that if it gets broken you’re left with a massive bill. Blackberry’s seem popular with Tweens – i’ve never really liked them, iPhones are a bit too costly and delicate. You can get reasonable Nokia Lumia Windows phones relatively cheaply, I’m pleased to say G’s Mum went down the Android route. It’s a Samsung Galaxy Fame – she’s ended up with a fairly low cost handset, but it’s crammed full of features and perfect for her needs. I’ve also seen the ‘OwnFone‘ which is a crazily basic handset aimed at children as young as four – there’s no screen, no apps, just buttons. I personally think 4 is WAYYYYY to young for a phone – but still – it’s an interesting handset!
Thankfully, she doesn’t seem to have become permanently attached to it either, most of the time, it’s in her pocket and I find myself having to get her to check if she has messages and reply to them!
So – what is the right age to get your Child a Mobile Phone?
Well – it’s really dependant on the child, you, and your situation! You could probably wait until secondary school, but you don’t want your child to be ‘that kid’ at school – the one without ‘the stuff’. Equally though, you don’t want your kid to be a spoilt little bastard! I suppose in families with lots of siblings, they might end up with a phone younger than only children, because usually the little siblings want (and get) what their older ones have.
So – When did you get your child their own phone? Or when are you planning to get them one?