Daddy Bear and I have had this conversation a million times but we'll probably have it million more before Little Bear is 10.
We can't fathom - no way, no how - how our kid is getting a cellphone before 16 years of age.
Here are the reason TO give your kid a cellphone:
1.) Safety - child can call parent in case of emergency
2.) Accountability - parent can call child to make sure they are where they say they are
3.) Convenience - parent can call child to have child drop by to pick up that gallon of milk on the way home
4.) Social - child can call friends and speak for hours about nothing
Here are the reasons NOT TO give you kid a cellphone:
1.) Safety - child cannot be solicited by unwanted weirdos or harassed by other kids
2.) Cost - child cannot inadvertently spend hours on cell phone racking up quite a bill
3.) Perception of freedom - child cannot consider themselves independent when they rely on parent or land line for communication
4.) Materialism - it's hard to want to upgrade your phone to compete with the new fads when you don't have one
We clearly lean towards the "NOT TO" list as I'm not concerned about my child gain social status. But I do struggle with the safety issue. If not for them, for me. I want to know they can get in touch with me wherever they are (such as at a ball game or with friends at the mall).
At this point, I think we've solved the problem: a Family Cellphone.
The Family Cellphone can be used by anybody in the family (which really means it's the kids' phone as Mama Bear and Daddy Bear have their own phone). The Family Cellphone is to stay at the house unless being used. Every phone call is monitored and every phone number screened.
So, when to allow a child to have a phone? Right now, we're considering the ballpark age of 15-16. But, really, it will depend on the child's maturity level.
We're bracing ourselves for being "those parents" - the incredibly old fashion restrictive parents. I can almost hear the preteen/parent arguments that will likely ensue.