questionswhat age is right for a cell phone?

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The proper question should be "What maturity level should be right for a cell phone?"

I believe some people should not have a phone until they are 16 but there are a few very mature teens that could get one before then. You need to decide on an individual basis. Do they do their homework on time? Are they dating anyone you disapprove of? Etc.

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@nmchapma: If you take away their cell phone, you won't be able to track them down when they are creating the beast with two backs.

You could always consider handicapping your child's cell phone functionality, sort of like what your parents did for you. They make cell phones that have very limited ability and each ability can be restricted to only calling numbers you plug in and functions limited (text allowance, data allowance, etc.) based on minutes or time of day.

You should eliminate phones for leisurely use until they are in their teenage years and can pay for their own phone + plan. Phones at early ages should be used strictly for emergencies. My mother gave me a cell phone mainly for this reason when I was 13. It was fully functional (although this pre-dates the SMS era...) and she trusted me with it, explaining that I could use as many minutes as I needed, but had to pay out of my own pocket if I went over the monthly limit. A pre-paid plan would also probably be a good idea.

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I prefer my cell phone to be absolutely no more than 5 years old, but usually newer than 3 years old.
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@nmchapma: Those two examples are vastly different, and your underlying question seems to be a third question. Is it appropriate to take a cell phone away from a teen who isn't completing their homework? If a teen isn't doing their homework because they're using their cell phone instead, then it's a logical and "natural" punishment to take away the cell phone each afternoon until homework is verified as completed. "Dating someone [the parent] doesn't approve of" is a very subjective determination and I fail to see the connection between the action and the consequence in this situation. In particular, it is not logical to a) allow a teen to date someone of whom you don't approve b) punish them for doing something you're allowing them to do. If the teen is lying to you about dating someone of whom you don't approve, then the punishment is for lying, not because of who she/he is dating.

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@cengland0: I guess that brings me to a different question. Can you safely take away the cell phone as a punishment? for say....dating someone you disapprove of or not doing their homework?

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@nmchapma: Just a thought, but many of us grew up without cell phones. Even when we were of driving age, we went out and drove and didn't have phones. And we were okay, even in emergencies. Kids today will be even safer than we were as most other people have cell phones and are willing to let another person (even strangers) borrow their phone to make a call in an emergency situation (or even a non-emergency situation).

Yes, it would be more complicated to get in touch with your child if they don't have their phone. But in a true emergency, it shouldn't be that difficult for them to contact you. And if you make them give you a detailed list of where they expect to be, when (as part of the punishment) and with whom, it shouldn't be too hard for you to get in touch with them either. Doesn't seem like it would be a real safety hazard to temporarily take away a teenager's phone.

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Every child is different, assess their maturity level and make a determination. I've seen 8 year olds who can handle a phone, but then I've seen 16 year olds who are better off using smoke signals to call their friends

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I'm still wondering why you didn't heed the pop-up that asked if you were sure this wasn't a duplicate question. Also, why so many questions in one day?

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@mtm2: I mean if you have a 16 yr old who is driving to school and such. Do you think it is safe to take the cell phone away from an in case of emergency situation? I'm not talking about damaging the child or causing them to retaliate or something dumb like that. It's a great punishment for a misbehaving 14 yr old.