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Hey, Mom and Dad. When Should Kids Get Their First Cell Phone?

Parents, Patch wants to hear from you on the questions that get families talking.

Welcome to "Hey, Mom and Dad"—a weekly feature in which we ask our Facebook fans to share their views on parenting. Every week we get the conversation started by taking a look back at a question we asked parents the week before on Patch Facebook pages from around the area:

Your child is 10 years old and insists he needs a cell phone in his life to keep him safe and in constant contact with his friends. What do you do? Run out and put him on the family plan? Or, tell him to wait until he can get a job and pay for it himself? That leads us to this week's question:

What is the appropriate age for kids to have their first cell phone?

Take a look at what people had to say and join the conversation in the Comments section.

Wendy F. I can see very basic (and durable) phones for kids once they are in very late grade school or junior high - largely to communicate with their parents. In high school - I can see a more sophisticated phone - but I really don't think kids should be given top-of-the-line cell phones (like iPhones) until they are out of high school. They are very rough on them - and they don't need all the bells/whistles. It drives me nuts when you go out and see kids 7 and 8 years old - with iPhones (which they don't put down even at meals out with their families). Today's kids are way TOO wired. They need to learn to communicate other than by texting or Facebook updates! via Woodridge Patch Facebook page

Debbie A. It all depends on the use. Latch key kids should have them. via Downers Grove Patch Facebook page

Paul J. I believe it depends on the maturity level of the kid, not so much the age. My wife and I got our a son a cellphone when he was nine. He's eleven now. Nothing fancy, just a simple phone for calling and texting. No Internet connection either. The phone was free and it's $10 a month on our plan. Makes me feel better knowing he has it when he goes out. via Darien Patch Facebook page

Gavin Q. Our rule was no phone until college unless you paid for it yourself. As far as for safety when going places, I got to borrow Mom's phone. lol. I thought it sucked at the time, but I'm glad they did it. It made me appreciate the phone a lot more when I finally got one. via Lemont Patch Facebook page

Chris H. When they can pay towards the bill! via Western Springs Patch Facebook page

So what's your take? Do kids need a cell phone before they're old enough to pay for it themselves? Tell us in the comments below.

Marissa Modesto October 02, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I've been struggling with this... my eight year old has started asking when he will be able to get his first phone. As we no longer maintain a land line and as pay phones disappear the appropriate age for cell phone use will go down. I remember calling my Mom to pick me up from afterschool activities starting in the 5/6th grade from the pay phone... now you can hardly find one! It amazes me when children have smartphones, even the adults in our household do not own smart phones.
Matthew Hendrickson October 02, 2012 at 10:07 PM
My favorite comment was on the Oak Park Patch Facebook which basically said, they can have one when they pay for it.
Ben Dover October 03, 2012 at 01:29 AM
That horrifies me.
Tom Koz October 03, 2012 at 02:37 AM
HEY, you don't have to be able to pay for a cell phone!! Actual tax payers and others will pay for it for you??? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio&feature=player_embedded Do you think other people should pay for your things?? Do you teach your kids that they should not work for what they get?? Do you teach your kids that others owe them?? Do you have no shame??? Sooner or later, probably sooner, the Socialist will run out of other peoples' money!!
Joseph R. Martan October 03, 2012 at 03:46 PM
No cell phones until college. Children need to learn how to speak and write intelligent English, not the garbage they use on their phones and IPods. Likewise, they need face-to-face interaction with their peers instead of hiding behind an electronic device. The trouble is that the current generation of parents lacks the ability (or willingness) to simply say "no" when Buffy or Chad whine that everyone else has one.

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