Children age 11 and older should be allowed to have cell phones, along with clearly defined rules and consequences. Having a cell phone allows your child to have more independence and shows you recognize they’re growing up. It also helps teach them about limits and being responsible for things they own.
My daughter was 11 when she got her first cell phone; she’s now 16 years old and a junior in high school. Her first cell phones, which were around $60 each, had a pay-as-you-go plan from Virgin then I spent $20 a month on calls and text messages. Two summers ago, I moved her to my service plan and got her a new phone. My total cost for the plan and unlimited texting for two lines, including taxes, is $113 per month.
I wanted her to have a cell phone to allow her to have more independence. When she got to the middle school, she wanted to be able to walk the two blocks from the school to the library. Having a cell phone allowed her to call me to tell me when she got there and when she was walking to my office.
Now, during the school day, she uses it to verify plans and alert me to possible changes as well as to let me know she’s ready to be picked up. If anything changes on my end, I can send her a text message that she will get when the last bell rings. Away from school, we use it to keep in touch when she’s away from home or is ready to be picked up.
The middle and high school here allow students to have cell phones at school but they are to be turned off during school. My daughter uses it on the way to and from school, but most it is off unless she needs to contact me. Other students do not follow the rules, however, and are regularly texting each other, Facebook and their parents. In my daughter’s high school, if you are caught using your phone they give a warning to put it away. If you don’t, the teachers can take it away until the end of class. If it is an ongoing problem, they send the student to the principal’s office.
Overall, it has worked out great for us with some guidelines and faith in her ability to handle the responsibility.