When Should I Get My Child a Smartphone?

These days, even toddlers have cell phones. Sure, they’re usually the plushy kind that can teach them colors, numbers, and the ABCs. But what happens once a child is old enough to want the kind that makes and receives calls and texts, or lets them download apps and surf the web?

Here are some factors to consider before letting your child go mobile:

Emergencies: A mobile phone can be a terrific convenience when, for instance, kids need to call for a ride, the National Parent Teacher Organization notes. Plus, cell phones can be lifesavers in emergencies.

If you’re hesitant to let your child carry a phone all the time, consider limiting their use to certain situations where being in touch is essential.

Maturity: Only you can gauge whether your child can handle the responsibilities of carrying a mobile phone.

Psychologists generally don’t suggest an ideal age for a first cell phone, according to NBCNews.com, so consider whether your child can ignore the phone at school, avoid becoming text-obsessed, and whether the phone will hurt their face-to-face social skills.

Feature Phone vs. Smartphone: A smartphone “adds another element of risk for your children, who now have access to all kinds of inappropriate content in their pockets,” Marguerite Reardon writes on CNET. So when can your child graduate from a frills-free cell phone to a smartphone?

“If you feel comfortable allowing your child to have open access to the Internet and to social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, on your home computer, then you can consider allowing a smartphone,” Reardon notes.

The bill: A couple years back, a California father gave his 13-year-old son a cell phone without a data plan. The first month, the boy racked up almost $22,000 in data fees. (The carrier, Verizon, forgave the fees.)

You may not blink at the extra cost of adding a phone to your wireless plan. But is your child mature enough to stay within your text and data allotment? Consider setting clear usage parameters to avoid expensive surprises.

When do you think a child should have a cell phone, or a smartphone? How will you decide if they’re ready for one?

External Link Image Label Links to non-Ally websites

We provide links to third-party websites for your convenience. Although we provide a link, Ally Financial is not responsible, nor can we guarantee their products, services, or information. We suggest you review their online policy and security practices to learn about this third party and how they handle consumer information.


  1. 1

    In my opinion, a child should start their cell phone usage at the age of 12 and over. Parents should provide a good cellphone plan and then sit down with the child to inform them of the rules and regulations of use the parent prefers. If the child misuses the phone and breaks the rules, the phone should then be taken away for a period of time.
    Good luck…

  2. 2
    The WiseYoungCoot

    It depends on the child and his/her lifestyle. You see a child who is homeschooled might not need a phone as soon as a child who isn’t. 1. In homes with busy working parents the end. Period get the kid an iPhone once you can’t be with him/her much. Like (9-12) . Don’t worry either. You can restrict and check up on your child anytime anywhere. Say your at your job and after your child has been dropped off at home after school you will be able to see that she arrived at her location him/her. You can also chat face to face with him/her. :) if your on a business trip. If you do decide to buy your child an iPhone or any phone make sure they know the rules on how they use their phone or use it as a reward or punishment and be sure to purchase a otter box (DEFENDER) case. 33 dollars on Amazon.

    2. If she/he’s a homeschooler getting him a good smartphone will reward not only him/her but you. Usually homeschoolers are always on the move learning and seeing the sights like me lol. As a homeschooler you would probs be with your child on one of these trips but if you happen to miss out you can use face to face video chat and be able to almost be their with her/him. You can also use it for some of the reasons above in “1.” They can also use apps like dictionary and educational apps to evoke and awaken her/his education. Say he/her comes up on a word or has homework he’d like to or need to research. Also if your child gets lost they you can find out where they are on a map and vise versa. appropriate ages for a first smartphone (12-13)

    Get your kid a tracfone prepaid card at age 9.

Leave a Comment