Should Children and Teens Have Cell Phones? Pros and Cons

Many parents point to safety as the main reason they give their child a cell phone
Many parents point to safety as the main reason they give their child a cell phone | Source

If you are deciding whether or not to get your child a cell phone, you are not alone, many parents are now faced with this same question. While it may be easy to choose a specific cell phone, the more difficult choice is timing; what is the best age for your son or daughter to be given their first cell phone? There is a lot to consider for parents. One consideration is the social pressure that kids and teens can feel when many other friends and peers already have a cell phone. Some parents feel that the safety benefit of having a phone is the primary deciding factor, while others disagree and feel that it is best to wait until their child is older and more mature. Factors like home environment and especially varying levels of maturity, make it impossible to prescribe a specific age for when your child may be ready.

The following are some good reasons why you should get your child a cell phone:

1. Safety

One reason that many parents claim that they are purchasing a cell phone for their child is safety. These parents feel that if the child was kidnapped or in danger, that having a cell phone could offer the child a way out. This scenario would assume that the child always had their cell phone and charged.

2. Peace of Mind

The idea of being able to check on their child if the child was away from home is another motivator for parents to purchase a cell phone for their child. Knowing where their child is offers peace of mind.

3. Communicating with Friends

Keeping in touch with friends is a big reason that children want cell phones. Having a cell phone will allow them to easily keep connected with their social circle of friends, and they like the feeling of independence that a cell phone gives. Parents also feel that giving their child a cell phone will allow their child to “fit in”, to build and continue friendships.

Giving a child a cell phone can be a great choice when considering things like safety and peace of mind for the parents as well as allowing their child to be in communication with their friends.

Source

There are also many downsides to giving a child a cell phone:

Knowing kids, there is no guarantee that the child would have the phone and that it would be usable, but just the thought of possibly of avoiding danger is enough to make parents decide to buy a cell phone for their child.

1. Failing to offer Safety – False sense of security

While many parents feel that the deciding factor over whether or not to purchase a cell phone for their child is safety, or peace of mind, it is important to realize that many times cell phones don’t deliver. Here are some reasons that a cell phone might not provide kids with more safety:

Reasons that cell phones don’t always live up to their safety reputations:

  • Kids forget to charge the cell phone
  • Kids forget to take the cell phone with them
  • Kids loose the cell phone altogether
  • Cell phone signals might not work
  • Kids don’t always answer their phone

If parents are relying on their child’s cell phone in the case of an emergency, it would be best to have a back-up plan, cell phones aren’t always reliable and kids aren’t always responsible with their phones. Adults forget to charge their phones and sometimes lose them as well, so it would follow that children would have similar issues.

2. Addictive Factor

Cell phones, and especially smart phones, are very addictive; games and social media sites are particularly problematic and will likely lead to the child tuning out of ‘real life’ experiences. For this reason many parents choose the most basic phone available and block any data so the phone is only used for its intended purpose, which is communication. Smart phones are computers with internet access; if you hand your child a smart phone you are handing them a world of options, but most children lack the maturity to navigate this world safely.

For many children, cell phones negatively  effect sleep and school grades.
For many children, cell phones negatively effect sleep and school grades. | Source

3. Getting a good night’s sleep

Because cell phones can be so addictive children are staying late at night on these devices and consequently missing out on their needed sleep. Many parents set rules and limitations but they can be hard to enforce when a child is in possession of a cell phone.

4. Monitoring a child’s cell phone use can become a 24/7 job.

5. Progression of cell phones use

Over time, a child’s cell phone usage will likely increase. While at first just having a phone to communicate with seemed good enough, the child may subsequently want a more sophisticated and expensive smart phone. Once the child has experienced use of a 'smart' phone, or is that child's peer groups has smart phones, the decision becomes more challenging.

Compromises:

The compromise that some parents resort to is limiting cell phone use such as one hour per day, but this solution comes with its own issues. Returning a cell phone on time, within agreed limits, can become a problematic situation for all involved, often leading to friction and conflict.

If you are considering getting your child a cell phone it is wise to really consider the pros and cons, even to include your child in your decision making regarding your concerns and possible rules and restrictions.

Many parents point to safety as the deciding factor but cell phones don’t always deliver. Having a phone and “fitting in” with their peers is important, but if the child begins to show signs of missing sleep, falling behind in schoolwork or becoming addicted, it might be time to remove the privilege either temporarily or for an extended period of time until a future date.

Do you feel children should have cell phones?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Depends on the child
See results without voting

Does your child have a cell phone?

  • Yes
  • No
See results without voting

© 2014 Tracy Lynn Conway

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Comments 18 comments

sassypiehole profile image

sassypiehole 2 years ago from the ATL

There is a watch I found recently called FiLip (http://www.myfilip.com) that I want to get. A "just in case" phone. But it'll have to wait until I get the new iPhone for myself–because I know that's coming soon! ;-)


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

My daughter is 14 and tells me she's the only one in her class without a cell phone. We've emphasized schoolwork and connecting with people as much as possible via face-to-face contact. Although she'll be getting one soon as she heads to high school, it's been the right decision here.


carrie Lee Night profile image

carrie Lee Night 2 years ago from Northeast United States

Very interesting topic...one I have thought about for a while. I strongly feel that cell phones are not for children and should not be introduced until responsibility has been demonstrated and maturity has been established. However...I do understand the need for peace of mind...but I didn't have a cell when I was a kid and I was fine without one. I never had the need for one...Now as an adult I have a smart phone and quite honestly say I'm not impressed enough with the money I pay for it. Pay as you go cell phones are a good idea if a parent has that immediate need to keep track of their children. Thank you for giving the pros and cons of this :) Have a great week


AOkay12 profile image

AOkay12 2 years ago from Florida

Safety is an issue and a cell phone could be a lifesaver. But, I think that children should have their cell phones disabled at certain times, like during school sessions. My young relative had her cell phone taken from her by a school official, because she was caught texting during class. Also, there should be software or apps installed to monitor their activities on the phone. Children and teenagers have no reason to be on the phone at all times of the night, either.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Sassy, I took a look at the watch that you mentioned, it looks interesting, but is also on the expensive side. It is good to know that there are other options in terms of keeping track of your child's wearabouts. Thanks for the comment!

Best, Tracy


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Flourish,

It sounds like you a have a handle on the cell phone situation and are not being guided by the herd mentality. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Best, Tracy


sassypiehole profile image

sassypiehole 2 years ago from the ATL

I know, but I still want one! I actually wouldn't mind having it for myself and getting rid of my social media addiction. But that would be cray cray! I DID, however, buy her one of these to keep at home (no house phone)... You know, just incase I have an aneurysm while trying to help with her 1st grade math assignment! ;-)


sassypiehole profile image

sassypiehole 2 years ago from the ATL

Oops! Forget link: http://www.just5.com/home.php (it was cheaper than a land line).


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Sassy, the Just5 looks interesting, I like the simplicity, "less" could in fact be "more." This simpler cell phone might be a better option and from what I have seen most cell phone carriers don't offer decent "basic" cell phones options.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Carrie, cell phones seem to have been designed for adults, yet are used by children without thorough consideration as to what that involves. It is one thing to have a phone that you simpy talk on but these smart phones are powerful devices. Historically, teens spent a lot of time on the home phones or even got their own line, one big difference now is that parents can't pull the plug out of the wall and set limits. Parents are needing to navigate this interconnected world on the fly, like a kind of war zone with the cell phone signals flying this way and that. I have considered getting rid of my own smart phone, but in the end it seems easier to keep it. There seems to be a kind of love/hate relationship with these little things.

Thanks for your great comment!

Best, Tracy


sassypiehole profile image

sassypiehole 2 years ago from the ATL

Its extremely basic, i got it for the panic feature when she was 3. The texting works, but uts old-school and annoying. It's like a Jitterbug for kids. ;-)


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

AOKAy, I hope that in the future it will be easier for parents to monitor their child's cell phone usage, but for now it is difficult. You bring up a good point about the issues with phones in schools, cell phones can distract children and teens from getting the most out of school.

Best, Tracy


sassypiehole profile image

sassypiehole 2 years ago from the ATL

True, but in the back of my mind I worry about something happening that's out of my control. And I'd want my daughter to be able to call me if that ever happens. I pray it never does!


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

Well my daughter would love to have a cell phone, but it's just not happening right now. My husband and I keep debating and she keeps pleading, but we are going to wait a while. Just not sure when we will decide to give her one. These are helpful hints to review when we do make a decision.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Sassy,

Yes, your safety concern makes sense!

Glimmer,

I am glad to hear that you are being cautious in choosing whether or not to give your daughter a cell phone, it is big choice to make.

Best, Tracy


breathing profile image

breathing 12 months ago from Bangladesh

A great, excellent and very much post on the pros and cons of children having phones. I think children can be given phones for use in this modern time but obviously there must be certain restrictions. You see children are very much sensitive and accept almost everything that they feel is exciting. So it is the first and foremost responsibility of the guardians to ensure that their children are not being susceptible to anything harmful. If you can ensure that as a guardian, then you can let your child use the cell phones. Thus you will be able to keep in touch with him/her and reduce your tensions.


breathing profile image

breathing 12 months ago from Bangladesh

A great, excellent and very much post on the pros and cons of children having phones. I think children can be given phones for use in this modern time but obviously there must be certain restrictions. You see children are very much sensitive and accept almost everything that they feel is exciting. So it is the first and foremost responsibility of the guardians to ensure that their children are not being susceptible to anything harmful. If you can ensure that as a guardian, then you can let your child use the cell phones. Thus you will be able to keep in touch with him/her and reduce your tensions.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 10 months ago from Virginia, USA Author

Breathing,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

Best, Tracy

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