In the world today, technology has become an integral part of everyone's lives. I am never more than a few feet away from my smartphones, and most of the time I have a backpack or messenger bag, chock-full of tech, slung on my shoulder. I even catch myself constantly daydreaming over the handful of gadgets I have pre-ordered (or backed via Kickstarter) that will arrive later this year. (I seriously cannot wait for Leap Motion to be plugged into my MacBook and to be swiping and typing in-air.)

But there are some concerns we all should consider, such as how this technology impacts our lives and those around us. Are you addicted to technology? Does it affect your social life? Do your phone habits affect your sleep? Work? Family life?

When it comes to tech, though, there are also major moral concerns that every parent comes across at some point. Tecca's Michael Arcand asked a question almost every modern parent has faced: How young is too young for a mobile phone? As Arcand explains, there is no black and white, one-size-fits-all answer. While there are advantages to introducing technology to children early on, it's probably not a good idea to pass down your bad cell phone habits to your child. You don't want them tapping out text messages at the dinner table or ignoring you while they check their Facebook from their phone.

Per usual, there are many different factors to consider when tackling such a question.

First, weigh the advantages. You can reach your child almost anywhere, barring they have service, their phone hasn't died or they don't choose to ignore when you call. You can also track their location through the embedded GPS chip in the cell phone. And there are certain skills (social and technological) that a child needs to develop through some freedom, rewards and means of communicating with their friends.

Then identify the disadvantages. You might be receiving a phone call about your child's incessant cell phone use during school. Remember that most phone also have an Internet connection, and most of those data packages come with a hard or soft limit. Nobody wants to up the possibility or risk of an outrageous amount of overages. Worse yet, there is next to no parental oversight, so what your child would be looking up is at their own discretion (without the aid of something like Net Nanny).

Not to mention, cell phones are expensive to replace (insurance isn't cheap either). Children are notorious for breaking things, and cell phones are certainly not going to be an exception.

There is also the want versus need argument. Arcand explains that the younger a child, the more they will be under constant parental supervision. Those parents will likely have cell phones of their own. But your child carrying a cell phone may be the difference in an emergency situation.

Finally, you have to come to a consensus on what age a cell phone is appropriate, which is totally at the discretion of parents.

While I won't have to face this debate with my significant other for several years, it's still something I come across quite often. Personally, I wasn't allowed to own a cell phone until I started playing sports and spending the nights away from home a lot. And I wasn't allowed to choose my own phone until I had my own job – 16-years-old.

But it's as if every day I see younger and younger children with cell phones. And tons even with smartphones. One of my cousins had a cell phone at age six. Another had an iPhone around age nine. To me, that's just too young, at least for a smartphone. I can understand a parent justifying their child carrying a cell phone; it can be consoling. But there is no real justification for a child that young to have a smartphone.

If I had a child, I would hold off on giving them a cell phone until they were at least 12 or 13 – upon entering adolescence. And they wouldn't get a smartphone before they could pay for it themselves. (Oh, how I sound like my mother!) That decision, of course, is going to vary family to family. Do you have a child? Have you given them a cell phone? A smartphone? If so, at what age did you do so? If not, at what age will your child get their first phone?

Image via modmyi

Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

Related posts

Comments & discussions  

131 Reactions to this post

"When should a child get their first smartphone?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Anonymous honestly 7 because what if something happened wile you where not home and he/she was the only survivor plus i got my first when i was 7 also
R.j. ONeill
R.j. ONeill WALL OF TEXT WARNING. Teaching kids how to manage money at an early can be a very powerful educational experience. You should honestly be HELPING them BUY THEIR OWN cellphone early on, as this can be the perfect opportunity to teach responsibility with payments... You know, with the money in their own bank account/wallet. (teaching your kids to save up money through an allowance or chores to afford what they like/want/need is a good bonus that would be very relevant when they finally get a first job, too.) "But kids can't afford cellphones!" Most adults have plans they DON'T EVEN NEED paying ridiculous amounts of money and then yell that kids DON'T NEED cell phones. Huh? Pay as you go phones are brilliant for money management, as they are cheap yet force you to budget your minutes/units intelligently as opposed to unlimited everything; your child needs to save minutes for important calls, MBs for more intelligent use of data, and needs to get a plan they know they can afford... stuff that even most adults don't seem to think about anymore. "My kids aren't mature enough to have a cell phone, so I shouldn't let them have one. They're dumb and don't deserve it." Well, gee, because keeping a cell phone away from them is going to make them more mature, right? Even then, how is shoving them on your overpriced family plan once they're suddenly 'mature' enough to get a free iPhone 5 or Galaxy S4 from lazy mommy and daddy going to make them more mature? Use a cellphone to MAKE them mature. "I'll *give* my kids a cell phone when..." in general is dumb, as you aren't teaching them proper responsibility for the ownership of a cellphone. There is no sense of pride when a child gets a top-end cellphone for free, nor is there any pride when a cellphone-less child is surrounded by other kids who have cellphones. "My child doesn't NEED a cellphone like every other child!" Yeah, keep stroking your own ego instead of thinking how you can help your child develop. They'll be so intelligent because of your choices! Let them pick their own plan, get their own phone, and manage everything about their phone on their own regard with their own wad of cash they can visibly see diminish and learn how to manage. At the same time, HELP them learn about the mobile phone world and what decisions to make; help them shop around and pick out their phone and plan. Heck, maybe when you look into what's available to your children, you might even decide to change your own plan. Considering you can have some very good smartphones for 100 bucks off-contract on prepaid plans that can cost 35 dollars or less, they can have that really cool phone while being able to be responsible for it themselves at a time when most kids aren't "allowed" to be responsible.
Kushal Dev
Kushal Dev 13 years old.
Hank S. Christy
Hank S. Christy Aroud 13-15 years old, I got mine when I was 14.
John Anthony
John Anthony I think that the smartphone age is for all kind of people but from 13-15
Rebecca Atwood
Rebecca Atwood Watching my friend's kids (18,13,11) all with iPhones that they have had for over a year, I think if they are responsible they can have one.
Dominic DeLaurentis
Dominic DeLaurentis Children shouldn't have smartphones. I received my first phone when I was 15 and got a smartphone when I was 18 1/2
David Lebron
David Lebron I didnt get my first phone till end of 6th grade, basic flip phone, then I didnt get my first smartphone (evo) till I was entering sophomore year.
Chandra Fibryanto Tan
Chandra Fibryanto Tan well... 12 maybe, just buy 'em Nokia 3210, unbreakable phone LOLz...
Jared JD Scott
Jared JD Scott i think around 14
Joel Axel
Joel Axel Bullshit im 15 and i still don't have a phone D:
Prince Nyaga
Prince Nyaga I got my first basic cell phone at 9 but now at the age of 14 am getting my first smartphone.
Diyan Fonseka
Diyan Fonseka 14, DUH :D
Bryan Prime
Bryan Prime Andreas berg needs to quit texting and pay attention in school. Horrible grammar!
Bryan Prime
Bryan Prime 16 when they can get a job and pay for it. If they get good grades only! Maybe a basic tracphone when 13-14.... no texts only calls! 16 a low end phone like basic android with net nanny
Lorenzo James
Lorenzo James When they can pay for it
Eli Bohnert
Eli Bohnert 10ish is a good age. But if they break it they buy a new one or they don't get a new one
Tony Abiama
Tony Abiama Smartphone after high school. When they can afford. I'd keep my child on messaging phone if they were on my account.
Andreas Emanuel Berg
Andreas Emanuel Berg Allright! I got my first phone, when i was about 6 years old, and i dont used that so much. I was about 10 years old, when i got my first android smartphone (HTC wildfire), and few months later, i got a HTC incredible s. Then the HTC inc. got broked, and i sent it to be repaired. They couldnt repair it, and i got a new phone. Then i sold it, and buyed me an iPhone 4S. I think children can get a cellphone, when they are 8-10 years old, and a smartphone, when they are 11-12 years old.
Daniel Rivera
Daniel Rivera And by the way my little cousin is 7 and has the LG Viper from Sprint!
Daniel Rivera
Daniel Rivera When they go to middle school!
Susan Hwang
Susan Hwang Never!
Andrew Camacho
Andrew Camacho If u have to ask yourself that question its prolly to early !
Kong Yang
Kong Yang 18. Feature phone for them until then.
Rani Hinnawi
Rani Hinnawi I'd say when they enter middle school, but without a data plan at first, unless they're responsible enough. And if they are, I'm still using parental controls. Parents need to be responsible over their kids' internet activities. I'm sick of hearing about what neglect leads to
Edison Eduardo Cevallos-Veliz
Edison Eduardo Cevallos-Veliz I say 13 simply because that's how old you have to be to use any smartphone built-in services. Both iTunes and Google services require 13 years of age to use. By then, they should be around 7th-8th grade, so it makes sense.
Bobby Moore Jr.
Bobby Moore Jr. Well I got my first phone at 7 or 8 but my first smartphone at 12
Christopher Araujo
Christopher Araujo 13
Melissa Kleine
Melissa Kleine My son is 4 and has had 1 for about a year. We no longer have a house phone, so I got a LG Migo for him. It has 4 programmable buttons, an emergency button, and that's it. It's worth $10/month to me for piece of mind knowing he can get ahold of someone if he needs to, and grandma loves getting the occassional surprise phone call
Cameron Walton
Cameron Walton The question should be: At what age should you take the smart phone from your parents?
Bryan Wilt
Bryan Wilt When they can fully pay for it. Never paying for my kids smart phone
Chris Kettler
Chris Kettler at whatever age that child can buy one
Sharon Fisher
Sharon Fisher Me bring a school bus driver, I am so surprised at how many kindergartners have cell phones. From 3rd grade on.. Almost all have cellphones... Crazy..
Sharon Fisher
Sharon Fisher My kids got a cell phone when they got there drivers license a had a job to pay for insurance an pay for there phone fees that was added to my phone plan. My kids are adults now.
Daniel Kallini
Daniel Kallini My spoiled little cousin got his in 3rd grade
Daniel Christopher Hadley
Daniel Christopher Hadley I think they shouldn't have one till they can take care of it. Some are younger than others.
Matt Pankey
Matt Pankey A lot of adults are the same way.
Justin Plecko
Justin Plecko When they can afford the added cost of a more expensive phone and data plan. Kids are wasting more of their time staring at a 4+" screen all day instead of learning real social skills. It really is sad to see how the kids I work with are turning out because their lives are being run by a stupid cellphone.
Jarrel Ennis
Jarrel Ennis around 16
Richard Mccarthy
Richard Mccarthy Wth. Never, how about that.
Johannes Riitijoki
Johannes Riitijoki Then when they need one.
Matt Pankey
Matt Pankey iSheep is a word that I can get behind. Never understood why people devote themselves to Apple so blindly. On topic, my son got his phone when he was 15. Was a basic messenging phone with a QWERTY slide-out. Now he is in college with a brand spanking new Samsung Galaxy SIII that he paid for by working in the schools fan shop.
Jacob Grumbles
Jacob Grumbles Well honestly I used it just because its a common word on phonedog post I guess I should've used isheep instead. I'm sorry that I offended you or any one else .
Matt Pankey
Matt Pankey Fair Enough, Jacob. I still don't know why people use such words as you did.
Lizzie Koder
Lizzie Koder I know how kids like to communicate I am 21 and I have my first smartphone but I would loved one in high school in 8th grade if the child is responsible can get any type of phone they want. I would start with a basic phone for 8th and 9th though just to see how they can handle it
Jesse Ling
Jesse Ling It all sepends.the right answer is different for everyone,I'd just get them a feature phone until they were old enough to have any actual need for another,no sense wasting money un necessarily
Peter Tadrous
Peter Tadrous After they get lost and you find them. Then you know that they need it. But even then, they need the most basic phone for communication only. Happened to me in 6th grade.
Curtis Owens
Curtis Owens 20
Danny Spaide
Danny Spaide My kids both have iPhones. They are 9 and 11. Granted they don't have data. But why not give them a useful phone instead of some scrappy gulp phone....Android is next on their horizon, esp since I've given up on apple.
Keith Thomas
Keith Thomas When they get a frickin' job.
Jacob Grumbles
Jacob Grumbles @ matt pankey you do know phobic means fear/scared I don't fear and I am not scared of homosexuals I don't agree with it I do not believe that its normal or right . If she does turn out to be a lesbian I will love her just the same she will always be my little girl but that doesn't mean I have to agree with it or like it . My cousin is gay I treat her the same as I always have I just don't agree with it .
Marcus Cadwell
Marcus Cadwell Birth! When the baby pops out, hand them their first iPhone
Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole When they can pay the bill
Steve Johns
Steve Johns When they get a job and can pay for some or all of the bill
Anthony Sanders
Anthony Sanders My son got his first phone at 8 which was a basic lg phone and he continued to get basic phones up until the his 8th grade year when I got him a moto Droid ..hes now a sophomore in high school and like most high school has an iPhone now ...I think its up to that individual parent to decide what's appropriate for his/her kid. In my case being a single dad it was necessary to get my son a cell phone at an early age because he was a latch key kid at times and I needed to keep in contact with him to make sure he was ok...
Chad Richter
Chad Richter My 6 year old uses my old Droid 2 for apps like learning how to read and math and such. But i doubt I'd give him an active one until he was in high school. Kids need to learn how to speak to eachother. All this texting and social media is ruining kids abilities to talk socially to one another.
Naser Al-jummah
Naser Al-jummah 13
Arturo Atherly
Arturo Atherly Some interesting responses.....but my queation to phonedog would be y evn consider giving them one....what are your reasons and how old do u all thnk children shud b when recieving one...
Mike Tasler
Mike Tasler 25
Brett A Wise
Brett A Wise Basic talk only soon as they start school so they can contact you if there is an emergency but starting 6th grade I think a smartphone would be ok.
??? ????????
??? ???????? I would say that a child is eligible for a cell phone after the first few times they come home from school with a black eye. Once they've learned the lesson of keeping your mouth shut at the appropriate time, they can usually apply that lesson to cellphones and online communication.
Trice Pepper
Trice Pepper My 8 year old start off with a tracfone just call no Internet or text only to call me after school now she got one of my old boostmobile phone the samsung galaxy pervail no Internet only call & text to me and her father we remove a lot of things off the phone just to make it a basic phone. Now I have the iPhone 4s would I add her to my plan no so I think when they 6 and up and show they responsible sure y not
Nick Petrizzio
Nick Petrizzio 13, start them with a prepaid flip phone, 15 or 16 for a smartphone
El Solitario Cazares
El Solitario Cazares When they can pay their own bill.
Nicholas Omnom Hawthorne
Nicholas Omnom Hawthorne My kid can have a cell phone when they get a job and buy one.
Jason Jung
Jason Jung As technology advances we would not see crappy flip phones in a decade or two. At least give them a low end smartphone 12
Matti Hietala
Matti Hietala 15
Matt Pankey
Matt Pankey Jacob - Hope she doesn't turn out to be a lesbian and tormented by homophobes like her father. You are solid proof that ignorance is indeed bliss.
Joel Neil
Joel Neil Mine got a smart phone at age 8, hand me down droid eris.
Rashaud Cook
Rashaud Cook 5
Charles D. Comier
Charles D. Comier 11 (Middle school heroes.)
Jacob Grumbles
Jacob Grumbles @ matt pankey I didn't teach her she figured it out on her own . But I'm gonna guess that your problem is that I said ifag and no I do not teach my 3 year old about human sexuality but when she is at the appropriate age to learn about that stuff like that I will teach her that being a homosexual is not normal or right .
Josh Lazenby
Josh Lazenby Funny you should ask. I took my old HTC Magic, put it on airplane mode and removed the app drawer and all the icons except for some baby/toddler game apps and gave it to my son to play with when he was 14 months. Old phones just lay around collecting dust, and hes always facinated when he sees cellphones, so I figured i would turn it into a neat toy.
Ira Mitchell
Ira Mitchell I received my first phone when I was in the 6th grade & I'm currently 30 it was a Motorola flip phone. So my son will probably get his phone when he is in the 6th grade as well or whenever he is active in after school activities it any activities that require him to be away from for extended periods of time outside of regular school hours.
Brandon Coffey
Brandon Coffey The only cell phone a kid needs is a BASIC phone maybe when they are 13.. I used to work at a call center and a lot of people bought their kids smart phones and they would have all these extra charges making it a huge bill.. Which to them of course was our fault.. Long story short a kid does not need a smart phone until after maybe 10th grade.. We all lived without them before we can certainly do it again.
Major Crisis
Major Crisis When there old enough to get a job and buy one and make the monthly bill payments on it.
Elijah David Kleehammer
Elijah David Kleehammer When kids start having a social life outside of the home is when I think they should acquire a cell phone. Now, at 14 I don't think they need a smartphone, just for general communication with parents, but when I was 14 I saved up my money and got an iPhone 3G. At the time, it was cool (or at least I thought, until I discovered Android) but that's a story for another time. When they take on a certain amount of responsibility they should be allowed a cell phone. Around 14, I would say.
Arnulfo Aviña Torrés
Arnulfo Aviña Torrés Never. Kids shouldnt have cell phones.
Hector M Costa-Cortes
Hector M Costa-Cortes my son is 7 with a mytouch
Mark Hadley Ryan
Mark Hadley Ryan When they buy me a new one...
Edward Gonse
Edward Gonse I think 15 is a fair age. But nothing like a smartphone. Just a bare-bones flip phone or maybe a feature phone. It kills me when I see young teenagers with a better phone than I have as an adult.
Juan Almanza
Juan Almanza Birth!!!
Cristina Rushing Magana
Cristina Rushing Magana When they are no longer a child!
JesusNveronica Flores
JesusNveronica Flores When they are able to pay for it
Jason Burgiel
Jason Burgiel 14
Ethan Hoang
Ethan Hoang 21
Nukhba Guloter
Nukhba Guloter nowadays... even gr fives have phones... i think that gr sixes should get phones if theyre responsible enough
Asad Sarwar
Asad Sarwar A child shouldnt -_-.....
Lamar Sarracino
Lamar Sarracino When there old enough and get a job and pay for it themselves!!!
Chris Hyson
Chris Hyson Kids don't need cell phones, wait till they get a job and can pay for it themselves.
Joseph Alan Richardson
Joseph Alan Richardson "Child" um. Never. Age 13 when in high school when it is seen as necessary to keep in contact. Otherwise nothing that expensive will be trusted in the hands of a minor.
Joe Zaine
Joe Zaine i got a tracfone when i graduated 8th grade. i got my first smart phone- the g1 when i was a senior in high-school. i paid for the phone myself. im 21 now and i pay my own bill and will be paying foe my own upgrade this week. id say get them a prepaid phone when they are 12-13. the shouldn't have a smartphone until they can pay for it themselves.
Andres Barroeta
Andres Barroeta 5 years, :)
Bradley Warren Hanstad
Bradley Warren Hanstad well at 1 they are able to navigate games and buy apps, so at least an ipad early on!
Matt Pankey
Matt Pankey Do you also teach her to hate and how to be a bigot, Jacob?
Meng Thao
Meng Thao I got my first phone (flip phone BTW) when I started my senior year in high school. Got my first smartphone in April of 2011. When should a child get a smartphone? They should get it when they can pay for it or if they're family is rich then get it whenever. :)
Gordon Christie
Gordon Christie i agree when they old enough to have a job which is 13 in uk they can save the money buy a phone and pay for calls etc
Paul Antzoulis
Paul Antzoulis 3 months old
Demetria Brown
Demetria Brown when they can get a drivers permit and legally work. 15-16yo
Than Bigata
Than Bigata if he/she understand of what they do.
Jacob Grumbles
Jacob Grumbles Well I gave my 3 year old my nexus s when I got my galaxy nexus and needless to say she has mastered using which is why I laugh my but off when ifags say Android is to complicated.
Sean Watson
Sean Watson I got my first phone about 10 yrs ago , when I decided I wanted to pay for if. I was 20 or 21. I know its different now, but there's no need for a ten yr old to be on an iPhone texting. Stupid. A phone with only emergency #s, I could see as early as say 12? But a smart phone, maybe 17, or 18? Could be useful as they're getting ready for college.
Jon Smith
Jon Smith Out the womb and the phone has to be a samsung galaxy note so the phone is as big as them lol
Esai Sanchez
Esai Sanchez 12 legal age
Radu Tanasescu
Radu Tanasescu Well, if I had a child I wouldn't mind getting him or her a smartphone as fast as he or she wants one. But it could very well be stolen easily from a child and while I would like to keep track of where my child is I
Eddie Gutierrez
Eddie Gutierrez 16
Jonathan Lizama
Jonathan Lizama When they know what a penis is.
Heather Quinn
Heather Quinn I gave my nephew my iPad when he was 1 in a half and he knows how to do everything on it now. But I think maybe 10ish would be a good age
David DiPilla
David DiPilla Are people from phonedog really up this late lol
Travis Newhero
Travis Newhero I got mine when I was in 5th grade (it was a brick, like 10 year old phone which can call..and play pong. and got it to contact my mother only) and finally got a smart phone pretty much my senior year. (I had other feature phones inbetween) but kids these days shouldnt get a smartpne till their responsable enough (16+)
Shron Edwards
Shron Edwards When they move out on there own lol
Cody Edward Raber
Cody Edward Raber 12
Tim Larkin
Tim Larkin It pisses me off when i see 8 year oldd wit like a htc phone
Tim Larkin
Tim Larkin Atleast 14
Dwayne Cook
Dwayne Cook High school when they are more involved in extra curricular activities that involve being out of town.
Tyler Shoulders
Tyler Shoulders I got mine when i was 13
Gabriel Peterson
Gabriel Peterson Pft. I didn't get my first phone until I was about 17, and it was a cheap flip phone. Children need a break from electronics these days. Whatever happened to going outside?!
David DiPilla
David DiPilla When they are responseable
Jesse Robert Bochek
Jesse Robert Bochek When they're responsible enough.
Julio Alvarado
Julio Alvarado I have my own and I pay for the data plan and for the phone. I'm in high school
Jake Denning
Jake Denning When they can be taught to use one. When I have a child, I'm going to give them a stripped down clamshell phone to be used for communication purposes only. As he (or she) gets older, sure...go for the smartphone.
Hanamichi Kurotsuchi
Hanamichi Kurotsuchi 18
Joe Hayashi
Joe Hayashi College
Daniel Villarreal
Daniel Villarreal 6 year kids
Max Villanueva
Max Villanueva When they actually need it!
Jeffy Mogollon
Jeffy Mogollon When they can pay for it.
Abraham Pan
Abraham Pan when they're in highschool... why should a child need a cellphone in elementary school... youngest at 7th grade...
Brandon Salyer
Brandon Salyer When they have a J O B.
Avi Rava
Avi Rava actually depends on behaviour
Austin Ochoa
Austin Ochoa When they can pay the data plan. The only thing so like 16-18
Cesar Esparza
Cesar Esparza at age 5

Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos

Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions

This weeks "People's Choice Rankings" best smartphones
People's Choice Rankings

See all hot devices