If it seems like all your friends have smartphones, you may be on to something.

A new report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that reports on technology and media for children, found that by the age of 11, more than half of kids have their own smartphone. By age 12, more than two-thirds do, and by 14, teens are just as likely as adults to own a smartphone. Some kids start much younger. Nearly 20% of 8-year-olds have their own smartphone!

So, what’s the right age for you?

Well, I study the effects of media and technology on kids, and I’m here to say that there is no single right answer to this question. The best I can offer is this: When both you and your parents feel the time is right.

How to talk to your parents about a smartphone

Here are some points to consider to help you and your parents make this decision.

Responsibility: Have you shown that you are generally responsible? Do you keep track of important belongings? Do you understand the value of money, and can you save up to buy things you want? These are all good signs that you may be ready for a phone. If not, it might be wise to wait a bit longer.

Safety: Do you travel to or from school or after-school activities without an adult? This is when phones often go from a “want” to a “need.” Sometimes parents report that they feel better knowing they can reach their children directly, and that their kids can reach them, too.

Social maturity: Do you treat your friends with kindness and respect? Do you understand the permanence of the internet, the fact that once something goes out onto the web, it can never truly be deleted? It is critically important that you have a grasp on these issues before you own a smartphone.

We all get angry and say hurtful things we don’t mean sometimes, but when you post something on the internet that you might not mean later, or might wish you could take back, even on a so-called anonymous app, it can have real and lasting harmful effects. In the era of smartphones, there have been huge increases in cyberbullying.

Being smart about your smartphone

If you and your parents decide this is a good time to take that step, here are some tips to create a healthy relationship between you and your phone.

Parents should model good behavior! Your parents are the No. 1 most important influence in your life, and that goes for technology use as much as anything else. If parents are glued to their phones all day, guess what? Their children probably will be, too.

On the flip side, if parents model smartphone habits like putting the phone away during meals and not texting and driving, that will go a long way toward helping kids develop similar healthy behaviors.

You and your parents should talk together about the importance of setting rules and limits around your phone use and screen time. Understanding why rules are made and set in place can help kids stick to a system.

If your child has a smartphone, at what age did they get it? If they don’t have one yet, what age would you be comfortable giving them a phone? Tell us in the comments below.


Republished with permission from: The Conversation

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  • Mine all had to wait until they were 14 and as soon as they finished high school they had to pay for the account themselves and any replacement phones.


  • Hard to know but generally in their teens, and to restrict in the evenings so they get a mental break from social media.


  • Each and every child is different and also the situational needs of the family such as if the child needs to catch buses etc.


  • this is so hard to know


  • Mine won’t get one until she goes to highschool because she will be travelling by bus. Not necessary otherwise


  • Only when it becomes a safety need.


  • Teen years makes sense for phones.


  • I’m interested in what feedback other people give to this. My kids have 1 cheapie phone that they share if needed fpr a safety phone call but not their own.


  • I told my kids they can have one when they are 15
    Until then if they need to call friends there’s a house phone we kept just for that and they can always use my phone to FaceTime if they need it
    We just don’t feel like they need it before that time


  • maybe when he starts high school ..lol

    • High school is a good age for phones and being responsible.


  • My oldest in 9 and doesn’t have one yet. I’m judging as I go


  • I agree with the later the better. Too many people are addicted to their phones.


  • when they start school and might need to contact you (other than going to the office to do so)


  • The later the better I think…


  • Wow… 11 or 12. I got mine when I was 17 and I paid myself. What ever happened to pay phones?


  • For us it was when they started high school. On prepaid


  • I agree that each kid is different, their maturity level should be taken into consideration. Personally I wouldn’t give a mobile phone to a kid under twelve but it is up to the parents. I didn’t get a phone until I was twelve.


  • Our eldest 2 got one in the second year of High School.


  • Our eldest was 11yo for the sake of starting bus travels for part of his school journey. I suspect our youngest will probably start with a kids smart watch with a SIM and we’ll upgrade from there towards the end of primary/start of high school. Very sensible article here with lots of great points!


  • No until they’re highschool or like what the above stated, do you understand the value of money.


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