When should kids get their first phone?

A smartphone. When should kids get their first phone?

Oldest doesn’t like having his photo taken and has a knack of disappearing the moment a camera appears. I respect this, of course. Particularly as a large chunk of his life has been documented on this blog while he was too young to understand or, indeed, give permission.

Now he’s getting older and more self-conscious, he features on here a lot less and that’s more than fair enough. But last week, he threw me something of a curveball. He asked if we could take a selfie together.

I’m not a huge fan of taking pictures of myself but was delighted. Not only did he want his photo taken, but he wanted one with me. I don’t get as many hugs from him as I used to, so this was as good as one.

So we took a few selfies and he asked to look through them to find a favourite. I let him and that’s when the penny dropped. While I’m sure he did want to have his photo taken with me, there was a hint of an ulterior motive at play too. He wanted my phone!

Suddenly, I remembered a few recent exchanges in which he tried to take it from my pocket without me noticing as well as altogether less subtly demanding it.

I think it was opportunistic rather than calculated, but he still found a way of getting me to hand it over. The ratbag!

Since then, he has regularly asked when he’ll get his first phone and that’s where I’m stumped.

We still walk him to and from school and he doesn’t go anywhere without us. So, in short, he doesn’t need one yet.

But we want him to become more independent and will have to let him have one at some point in the not-too-distant future.

I already trust him to look after a device, but it’s the things it unlocks that I’m worried about. Particularly cyberbullying and inappropriate content.

I often think that it’s harder to be a kid these days and this area is no exception. When I was growing up, the Internet was very much in its infancy and social media didn’t exist.

Neither, for that matter, did mobile phones. I had a hard enough time at secondary school without any of these, so I feel very sorry for today’s kids.

As an adult, it’s a lot easier to switch off and ignore all the alerts. But kids are a lot more compulsive with such things.

Being always available to contact isn’t a good thing for anyone – especially youngsters. Neither is being judged via likes and comments at an impressionable time of life.

Then there are things like the recent Momo Challenge viral hoax. We successfully shielded our kids from it but I know they would have been scared witless by the associated image alone had they seen it.

Logically, we’ll need to let laddo have a phone once he’s old enough to get himself to and from school.

This may well be secondary, so that gives us a couple of years. Which is just as well really as there’s so much to think about!

When do you think kids should get their first phone?


  1. Phill Four Seasons Dad

    We went through the same here with our oldest. Was around the same time she wanted to visit town on her own. We’d previously vilified the relative who bought her one without asking. Wtf.

    Our motive was a phone that was also a tracking device. One that allowed us to help guide when visiting somewhere new but also able to know she’s safe. It worked until the restrictions were unlocked by her.

    Kids are clever, there’s an element of falling behind, just restrict what you can and follow the rules. Even Facebook has an age limit.

  2. John Adams

    Personally, I think children should get their own mobile phone when they are about 36. Or maybe 43. Im all seriousness, no idea. Most parents, however, should accept the fact a phone is a device for convenience. It’s not a safety device and that seems to be the justification most parents use for giving their kid a phone.

  3. Emma T

    I’ve had N asking for one too. He’s 8 and my target had been secondary school. In year 5 he might be allowed to cycle to school but I’m still not keen and there’s v little phone signal round here anyway. Thankfully so far only one child has a phone in his year (and I’m not sure why as he never goes anywhere without a parent). But they want phones for social media and apps and he won’t be having a phone with those for a.long time

  4. Pingback: Lord of the rings: was it wise to give my tween a phone? | Diary of the Dad

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