This topic is surrounded by great debate by parents and so-called “experts” in this field. Children will often start asking their parents for mobile phones as young as 9 years old, or in about Year 3 in school. And this age will only get younger in future. Thankfully most parents resist permission at this stage, but at what age should children have mobile phones?
There’s no black-and-white answer to this question, but we’ll provide some useful guidelines here to help you determine when the right time is for your children to have mobile phones.
Should Children Have Mobile Phones In Primary School?
If your child doesn’t ask you for a mobile phone when they’re in primary school, consider yourself extremely rare! Your children will have seen you using your phone repeatedly well before this time, and some children will be given their own phones to use by now as well. It’s inevitable that you’ll be asked the question, the only variable being how often you hear it!
If your initial response is something along the lines of, “What do you need a phone for? When I was in school there was no such thing!”…then you’ll probably have your child roll their eyes at you. They may suggest you “get with the program!” or something similar. This is not the response you want to give!
Generally there is little reason why children should have mobile phones while they’re in primary school, with the exception of these circumstances:
- They are travelling a long distance to and from school, so for safety reasons may need to be in touch with you (they may miss the bus, get off at the wrong stop, etc)
- They have a medical condition, and need to call for help without delay, or
- You and your child’s other parent or guardian are separated or divorced, and your child is going from one parent/guardian to another
If none of these circumstances apply to you, then the ideal answer to the phone request would be “Sure – when you’re in high school”. A “yes, later” response may generate less arguments than a straight-out “no”, even though the end result is the same. An argument at this point is preferable to the possible consequences of giving in to your child’s request. Just make sure you don’t make the fatal parenting mistake of saying no, no, no, no…and then yes just to keep them quiet! Stick to your guns and be strong.
Eight Rules For Children In Primary School With Mobile Phones
If your child fits into one of the categories above and therefore you’ve given them a mobile phone to use, the phone should come with strict rules. Some suggested rules are:
- Understand and obey the rules of having the phone
- Contacts can only be added with your permission, and should be restricted to family
- Only answer the phone if the caller comes up as a contact
- Text messaging is only allowed with family and contacts in phone
- No internet access allowed
- Phone must not be used during school hours
- Keep phone in bag and not in hand to minimize chances of theft
- Phone use should be kept to a minimum as required
It should be made clear to your child why they’ve been allowed to have a phone at such a young age. Your child needs to understand that they are only permitted to use the phone for safety reasons, and to communicate with family and others as agreed with you. The last thing you want is for your son or daughter to rack up a huge phone bill!
Should Children Have Mobile Phones In High School?
It’s pretty much inevitable that your child will have a mobile phone at some point in high school. In my view, the long school holiday break between primary school and high school is a good time for your child to be given their first phone. However a phone is a privilege and not a right for tweens and teens, particularly when you are paying the bill for it.
Ten Rules For Children In High School With Mobile Phones
A mobile phone allows for a certain degree of freedom, which can be very scary in the hands of tweens and teens. Children can easily get themselves in trouble using their phone, and the rules should be very clearly set and explained from day one, or before you give your child their phone. Here are some rules you may like to put in place regarding mobile phone use for your high school children (with agreed consequences if not followed):
- Understand and obey the rules of having the phone
- Only people you know well should be added to the contacts in the phone
- Phone must be switched off during school hours
- Phone must not be used during homework time, during dinner, or after bedtime
- Phone must not be used in the bedroom
- Appropriate text “etiquette” must be followed at all times
- Text messages and call logs can and will be monitored by you from time to time
- You must be shown any nasty texts received
- Only appropriate sites are to be accessed via the phone at any time
- Usage of phone must be limited to the plan on the phone (spend limit)
At these ages your children will be sending text messages in high volumes. Most teenagers send well over a thousand texts each month. It probably won’t occur to them to actually use their phone to talk to anyone – that’s such an old-fashioned application for a mobile phone!
If phone usage becomes obsessive, and starts to seriously affect your child’s face-to-face social skills, phone use should be limited further to encourage more verbal communication between your child and others. It’s worth mentioning that many teenagers have sent themselves bankrupt purely through over-using their mobile phones!
Should Mobile Phones Be Allowed In School?
Maybe in my 30’s I’m becoming very old-fashioned, I don’t know. But when I was first told that in high school, many of the kids in class weren’t paying attention to their teacher because they were using their mobile phones to text their friends and play games, I was horrified! What’s going on in high schools in this 21st century?!
Should mobile phones be allowed in school? Maybe there are two sides to this argument, but for me it’s a resounding NO WAY! A mobile phone is a huge distraction at the best of times. If your children are using their phones in class time, what hope do they have in getting anywhere at school? Not to mention how rude and disrespectful it is to the teacher.
I’m not sure why teachers don’t make it a rule that phones may not be used in class. Maybe some do, and maybe different schools have different rules around this. If you’re sending your child to school for the purpose of education – aside from it being compulsory – then allowing them to use their phone during classes is sending them a mixed message.
Summary: What Age Should You Get A Phone For Your Children?
Unless your child fits into the circumstances listed above (under the heading, “Should Children Have Mobile Phones In Primary School?”), then resisting the urge to give them a phone until high school is great advice. If your child is pestering you before then, it’s worth having an open and honest conversation with them about mobile phone usage.
Here’s our quick guide for mobile phone usage:
Q: Should children have mobile phones?
A: Not before high school unless there are medical reasons, long periods of travel, or travel between parents/guardians
Q: What age should you get a phone for your children?
A: All things being equal, try to resist giving your child a phone until they are around 12 years old, or in high school
Q: Should mobile phones be allowed in school?
Explaining the rules and obligations that come with a mobile phone may help your children realize for themselves that they don’t need the phone just yet. Allowing your children to be children up until this point at least is one of the best gifts you can give them, so be strong and have the courage to stand up for what you believe in as the wonderful parent you are.