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Why I let my 9 year old have a phone

Posted on Thursday, November 7, 2019
Today's age, it's a hard decision on when is an appropriate age to give a child a phone. I went on our Facebook and asked our followers their thoughts on giving kids phones and what age they decided to take the plunge:
"My daughter got her first cellphone when she was six years old... she's currently fifteen. My husband and I decided it was necessary when she started receiving sleepover invitations. As a parent you want your child to be able to call you if they feel unsafe." K.V.
"My daughter just got one...she will be 9 next month. She has special needs and has started doing more things away from home (museum trips, sleepovers with friends) we feel she needs it to communicate with us away from home. She is homeschooled so new to being away from us." = A.B.
"When they are alone at practices but they must have limitations! As long as you pay for the phone you read the texts and check the history. My kids never minded because that's just how it always was. Get a tracking app. We use Life360. Our 14 year olds love spying on us. Also no phones in bedroom ever!" = B.F.
"It depends on the circumstances of the child. Age, activities and transportation to and from school make it a necessity during the school year but a child younger than high school shouldn't have a smart phone only a flip phone for calls or text." - A.J.

Looking through the near 200 comments, I found that the average age our followers were giving cell phone to their children were around 9 years old. And here I thought I was giving my 9 year old son a phone too early. His older sister got her first phone at 14, his older brother got his first cell phone at 11, his other older brother got his first phone at 13 and now he is getting one at 9. So why the difference I ask myself?

First off, my children all have different needs, maturity levels and after school activities. Upon receiving her cellphone at 14, my daughter didn't need a reason to communicate home while at school. Plus her school didn't allow phones at that time. When she needed picked up, she simply had the office call. We lived in a very rural area at that time, so walking home wasn't an issue. My oldest boy got his at 11. By this time we moved to another state, heavy crime and not so great neighborhoods. But it wasn't that because of the reason, it was because when he went to his mother's house for the weekend, we needed to be able to communicate. And when he wanted to start his own lawncare side job, his clients had a number to reach him at. Now my middle boy is another story. He was so late to receive a phone because of his level of maturity. Any time we would check on his phone, we found he was sneaking onto sites he shouldn't be on. So we decided since he isn't in any programs and rarely leaves the house, he no longer needed a phone. So again, why is my 9 year old getting a phone? To teach responsibility and to have a line of communication as he walks home from school. Being so young, he has some major restrictions on it. The phone has very few games, or space to download games and is not a pricey phone - it's a basic, cheap touch screen phone that works well to make calls and text.

My nine year old has had it for three days so far. He is a huge game nerd (what 9 year old boy isn't) and has barely touched his phone. I think this will be great for him to learn on.

I do have some tip/tricks that came across on the FB post I posted that I wanted to share with everyone:
- No phones in bedroom, or with door closed.
- Have a phone "turn-in" time that they put it on the charger for the night.
- If they play on the phone, they get one battery charge a night, this helps teach them to put the phone down.
- Invest and look into a monitoring app for phones, like Life360 or MyMobileWatchdog. Many of these apps have GPS on them too, which is a plus!
- Have a talk about predators and how they use game/phone apps to lure in children.
- And always, check your child's phone activity often!

I am just a normal mom, yes some days I do find my kids sneak too much time on the phone playing games or watching YouTube, but we have to remember they are kids too. What would we have done if we had that kind of technology at our fingertips at that age? The best things we can do is educate ourselves, educate them, talk and monitor. Good luck parents!