Sunday, June 24, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

When is the right age to get a child a cellphone

My daughter and I constantly fight the process of growing up. She tries to speed it up, I try to slow it down.

Last week she got dressed for a family dinner with her grandparents and cousins and she put on jean shorts and a sweatshirt, similar to an outfit her 14-year-old cousin would wear. To top it off she added a play cellphone to her back pocket before walking out.

It got me to thinking. When is the right age to get a child a cellphone? I'm going to go right ahead and say that I'm not ready to get my daughter a phone. She's only 6 and she's not out of my sight long enough to really need one. But, the time is coming, I'm sure.

Sprint recently put out a new, easy-to-use phone called the WeGo aimed at 5- to 12-year-olds. It's not a smartphone. There aren't games or text options, but there are some cool safety features. There is only one button on the front, used to call a contact that has already been programed into the phone.

There is also a ring on a string that can be pulled in case of emergency, sounding an alarm and sending an emergency text.

I think 5 is way too young for a phone, and I doubt middle school kids are going to want this particular phone when their friends are all getting the latest iPhone, but for kids around 8 or 9 it may be a smart idea.

The nice thing though about this one, in addition to the safety features, is that it allows kids to get in touch with parents, but doesn't teach them to be attached to all the bells and whistles of the smartphone.

And if I'm being totally honest, my daughter sees enough of that at home. It's not only her cousin she's emulating when she sticks that play phone in her back pocket, it's me and my husband, too.

I've talked to some of my friends about when to buy a phone, and they don't seem to be in any hurry either. Late elementary or middle school seems to be average, and that sounds about right to me, too.

Most of my friends say that as kids grow more independent — riding the bus to school or participating in after-school activities by themselves — they like them to have a phone to stay in touch.

For some reason, age 11 is always the magic year for us. When can I get my ears pierced? When you're 11. When can I stay home by myself? Eleven. When can I go on my first date? Twenty-five.

That one's a little further off.

For now, I don't think a 6-year-old or even a 7- or 8-year-old needs her own phone, but 11 sounds about right. There is so much time ahead that these kids will be attached to gadgets. I'm enjoying the time now when they look each other in the eye, not at the phone, and yell across the street to their friends instead of texting.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what our lives are like in the next few years. As my daughter is away from us more often, maybe we'll get her a cellphone sooner than we thought.

And though I do like the idea of the WeGo phone, my husband is an admitted tech fiend and likes buying the newest gadgets. If she's smart, our daughter will ask him instead of me.

Elizabeth Freid Vocke is a married mother of one who lives in South Tampa.

Comments

Tell Me About It: The ability to cope is part of our humanity

Q: Iím curious if you believe or think things "happen for a reason" and "God/higher power only gives us what we can handle," or are things just random? I ask because my mom told me some sad news about a relative. I would never be able to cope with th...
Published: 06/24/18

Tell Me About It: Dad despairs at state of gender relations

Q: Day after day, we have new news of a famous man who has done unspeakably stupid and offensive things to women ... for decades. Society is, somewhat belatedly, starting to take these accusations seriously.But change is needed at the opposite end of...
Published: 06/22/18

Tell Me About It: Future in-laws are insisting on an open bar

Q: My fiance and I are getting married in my familyís hometown and my parents are hosting (and paying for) the wedding. My family are minimal drinkers. My fianceís large extended family is accustomed to weddings with full open bars.My parentsí initia...
Published: 06/21/18
Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Rainbow connection Pride weekend: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend in St. Petersburg, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coc...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanItís been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But heís about to make up for lost time. On Saturday heíll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Published: 06/20/18
Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Tyler Henry: Hollywood MediumTyler Henry, the so-called Hollywood Medium who stars in an eponymous E! hit show, is coming to town with a live show called "Life Lessons I Have Learned From the Departed." The soft-spoken 22-year-old has done readings f...
Published: 06/20/18
5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

1 Summer Plant Festival: If you think you canít get anything to thrive in Floridaís brutal summers, check out the vendors with fruit trees and advice on how to grow them, along with hundreds of blooming butterfly plants, herbs and tropical and exotic...
Published: 06/20/18

Tell Me About It: Wife punished after being victimized

Q: At a work happy hour, a male co-worker groped me. He later "apologized" with the qualification that I had been sending him mixed signals.Iím married, he has met my husband, Iíve never led him on. And when it happened I was incredibly clear that it...
Published: 06/20/18
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Pride weekend kicks off in St. Petersburg Friday with a free concert hosted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, a parade along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and an expanded expo of vendors and art on Sunday in the Grand Central District that ga...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Mom/daughter dynamic feels controlling

Q: I am afraid I may be a controlling mom of my young adult daughter, but we have a dynamic in which she seeks me out often, solicits my advice, and makes me too important in her life. I admit to offering that advice because it is hard for me to draw...
Published: 06/19/18