New survey data offers insight on this question, which many families of the tech era now confront.
More and more, as I shuttle kids to soccer practice or trumpet lessons or chess club or playdates or whatever, I am finding moments when I wish that my 10-year-old (heck, even my 8-year-old) had a cell phone. The tech geek devil on one shoulder tells me to get them one, but the parenting angel on the other shoulder says it is too soon, and that a phone will raise more problems than it will solve. My kids have done their own market research, of course, and swear that 110 percent of their friends already have phones.
In the face of such persuasion tactics, I welcomed new survey data from Verizon Wireless, which queried 519 parents with kids ages 6 to 17:
I was surprised -- given the current U.S. economy and unemployment rate -- that four in 10 kids 12 and younger from surveyed households had wireless phones. The survey also asked parents about ground rules, and found the number one rule to be that kids with their own cell phones had to answer when their moms or dads called. Verizon Wireless also provided support to parents on how to manage their kids' phones and tips on how to set the parental controls on those phones.
Keep in mind that all of this information comes from a publicly traded company that has a primary goal of selling wireless phones and related devices. Even with the parenting tips, the survey smacks of marketing and weakening the resolve of parents who think cell phones for kids is a bad idea.
Parents, what do you think? When are kids old enough for cell phones? What ground rules do you/will you set? Post your thoughts in the comments below.