This post is in collaboration with Verizon Wireless. All thoughts and opinions are my own. My experience may differ from your own. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
My daughter is 11 and while we haven’t had the conversation yet, I know it’s coming. I see second graders with their own cell phones and think to myself, WUT? Then I see seventh graders that are staying after school for practice several days a week, and think yeah, that makes sense. So at what point is it necessary and appropriate for kids to have their own cell phone?
First let me say I think this is totally a personal decision and we all have different needs to be able to communicate with our kids, so there’s no cookie-cutter answer. Some parents work late, some teens have jobs outside the home, some families are busy beyond my comprehension. You get the idea. But I think we can all agree on some of the conversations that need to take place before you bite the bullet and add your kids to your plan.
Is Your Teen Ready for A Phone? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself
Do They Need a Phone For Their Security?
Kids are running to practice after school. They’re at their friends’ houses. They just got a new job babysitting. This is when these conversations come up most. Our kids start spending less time in the nest and more time spreading their wings and we want them to know we are just a call away.
If your teen is starting to spend more time on the soccer field after school, or at their babysitting gig, maybe it’s time to talk about getting them a phone. My family uses Verizon and we literally never drop a call or lose our signal, so I know when the time comes to sign my daughter up for a line of service, she will always be able to reach me. And with unlimited data there is no excuse for not texting your mama when you’re going to be late for dinner!
Do They Need a Phone For Your Peace of Mind?
If you’re the one freaking out wondering what your teen is doing when they don’t come directly home from school, or when they’re late returning from the movies with friends, maybe you need to be able to reach them for your own sanity. I feel like being a sane mom is important, right?
Can They Handle the Distraction?
This is going to be the big hurdle I have to drag myself across when the time comes. My daughter currently has an iPod, so no cellular service but when she’s at home on the WiFi she can message her friends and family. It is a constant distraction. Even if she’s not chatting with a friend, she’s checks it approximately every 90 seconds. But who’s counting?
I give her breaks from it on the regular to make sure she remembers she’s got a family that doesn’t live inside a screen that wants to spend time with her. I’m a good mama like that.
The ability to moderate our activities like screen time comes with age and maturity, and we’re working on it. At age 11, my daughter is not ready for a phone and it’s not a necessity for us at this point either. When it does become more desirable because of her security and my peace of mind, I’m also going to have to really think about her STATE of mind with constant access to her friends and the online world.
And speaking of distraction, if you have a driving teen that opens a whole new conversation about not texting or talking while driving. Parenting in 2017 is not for the weak, friends.
Do your teens have cell phones of their own? How did you decide when it was time to cross that bridge?