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What's a normal age for children getting their first mobile phone?

(181 Posts)
greencolorpack Sun 29-May-11 13:13:59

Ds is ten. He has a friend at school who is always on at him to get a mobile. Ds says "All the children at school have one." This has never, will never, be an argument that works on me, I need to have other factors to convince me to go down this road.

Further questioning: I said, "What do they all do with them?"
Ds: "Use them to make prank calls and play games."

I said "If we got you a mobile it would be cheap and not very good, probably no games on it at all. It would be functional. It wouldn't be like mummy's phone (my one has all the bells and whistles, internet access, games etc). If I get you a phone it won't impress your friend, the boy with an I-Phone."

Ds: (mutinous expression).
Me: "Would you take your phone to school and show your friend?"
Ds: "No. It would stay at home. But my friend would ask me all about it."
Me (pragmatic to the end) "Okay so lie to your friend that you've got a HTC Desire. He will never know. Give him my number, you can borrow the phone and chat to him whatever."
Ds: "No, I want my own phone."
Me (despairing) "If you had a mobile of your own, I'd spend my life saying "No playing with the mobile, you can have it later for twenty minutes, just like all the other technology in the house."
Ds: "No I could play with it whenever I want because it would be my phone."
Me: "You're in cloud cuckoo land if you think just because it's yours I will let you play with it whenever you like."

I cannot get ds to pretend my phone is his phone, he is getting hassled all the time by his friend and here's me and daddy being all hard as nails about him owning his own mobile. I don't like small bits of technology, my children are constantly walking off buses leaving scarves, hats, cameras behind, a mobile would be no different. And NO WAY would he get to play with it all the time. So my decision at the moment is "no" to mobiles.

So what is a good age for a mobile and what is a good phone to own? I mean a really basic cheap one? Should I say no his whole life and teach him the value of refraining from materialism? Or does he need to learn just what a hollow promise phone owning is through his own experience?

rockinhippy Sun 29-May-11 14:43:06

I think you are over thinking it, the question should be - will he get use out of it, will it be of use to you if he has one - if your answers YES then get him one, if NO then don't bother until he's older enough for it to be of proper use.

DD who is 8 DOES have one, but it was a birthday gift from her Grandparents - she has wanted one for YEARS & we've always said NO but more recently have realised that its something she can make use of if she's at a friends house & anything happens she's not happy about & she wants to come home - which has been the case in the past, also she uses it to text/call her Grandad & keep in touch with her God parents who don't all live by - it DOES have games, which she does use it for when we are out & about, but same rules apply as with ALL her gadgets

if he wants one so badly though, perhaps suggest he saves up & buys his own - DD is currently saving for an IPAD as there no way in Hell are we buying her one - its teaching her that if she wants something badly, then she has to save & give up something else to get it - this also teaches her to respect her property more & so far she REALLY takes care of the other things she's saved up for & bought herself - its also making her quite resourceful in raising funds - she's currently organising a "Toy Sale" of her out grown stuff to go towards the IPAD smile

greencolorpack Sun 29-May-11 14:48:32

Good point rockinhippy. If we were regular givers of pocket money it might work, alas, we are chaotic and shambolic when it comes to remembering regular pocket money.

I don't think my ds needs it at the moment. The one time we let them out on their own for the day, the children just borrowed a spare (work use) mobile of mine, and that worked fine. That could work next time too. Ds is a dab hand at writing text messages, I know this because of times I'm driving and I need to get a message to dh, ds is good at texting.

I overthink therefore I am.

lljkk Sun 29-May-11 14:54:29

I'd say 8yo is pretty standard age around here.
9yo DD is haranguing me for one, just so she can frequently text her mates who she sees several times at school every day hmm. I let her out on her own (normal for 8yos to go free range around here) and she has a damaged so can't do texts, but otherwise functional phone for those excursions.
DS (11) has a very basic no frills phone that he rarely even turns on.
I am gearing up to getting us all new phones on same network.... but it will be hugely more expensive than at present.

seeker Sun 29-May-11 14:56:33

When they go to secondary school. And it's no use saying you will get them the most basic phone - they will "need" to have one with at least a camera and a few games. Honestly, it's not fair to send a child to secondary school aith a brick!.

Madlizzy Sun 29-May-11 14:56:45

Seems to be just before high school round by me. My lot got one at age 11 and it's useful now they wander further. I don't see the need for younger kids who are usually in close parental range anyway.

Madlizzy Sun 29-May-11 14:57:03

Oh, and I don't think it's a good thing to try and get your lad to lie!

Pagwatch Sun 29-May-11 15:08:33

Ds1 got his at 10 as he had to get the train to school on his own and the school insisted.

Dd is nearly 9 and I have no plans to get her one. None of her friends have one.

I expect 11 or older. But it will be a basic one.

CroissantNeuf Sun 29-May-11 15:13:52

Around 11 seems the norm here, in preparation for starting high school.

Most just get PAYG but DD does have a couple of friends who have contracts. Thankfully nobody seems to have an iphone (yet) but I'm sure I've heard of that being quite common in some places hmm.

They tend to just text each other a bit, some use them for music and games too.

Madlizzy Sun 29-May-11 15:17:21

Anyone looking for good tariffs for PAYG, I've just shoved all the kids onto Giffgaff and for a tenner a month, they get 250 minutes, unlimited texts and internet (not that mine have internet enabled on their phones)

2gorgeousboys Sun 29-May-11 15:21:02

DS1 got a PAYG phone with a camera for Christmas (top up £5 a month unlimited texts) a month before his 11th birthday. The idea being that the novelty will have worn off before he starts secondary school in September.

He uses it to text his big brother (DSS - lives with his mum), cousins etc and is useful when he goes out to walk the dog.

RockStockandTwoOpenBottles Sun 29-May-11 15:23:45

My older three all got their first phones in Year 6. I really can't see why they would need one before then. They got cheap £20 phones and then once they started at secondary school they moved on to contracts and, therefore, decent phones.

They're now 17, 16 and 14 and have BlackBerries (DDs) and an iPhone (DS), but DS had to save up £150 towards the iPhone as I knew there would be little chance of it being lost/damaged that way, and I've been right so far!

MissRead Sun 29-May-11 15:26:30

It's around the time they go to middle school here, DD has just got one in preparation for changing schools in September. I wasn't keen but it has proved useful when she's playing out (also fairly standard for 8/9 year olds round here as we live in a small, quiet village) and will be very handy for contacting her and more importantly her contacting us once she's travelling several miles on a bus to school every day.

Her phone's a very basic old one and I don't let her use it for texting or games at the moment. I want her to see a phone as a means of communication not an essential gadget that has to be surgically removed from her! If she wants a flasher one in the future I'd probably expect for to contribute towards the cost so she would value it and be more inclined to look after it.

shineoncrazydiam0nd Sun 29-May-11 15:27:15

Yes, massively overthinking this one.

My DD is almost 13, she had a phone from almost 12 i think and has only properly had a use for it since she started secondary school. So I think about 11/12 is about right.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 29-May-11 15:43:47

DD is 10 and has recently got her own phone. At her birthday party we took some of her friends and her bowling and she was the only kid without a phone. I think girls being girls they text each other a bit at weekends and stuff.

Anyway I gave DD one of my old ones, some old Samsung. It phones, texts and thats about it. Its PAYG on TESco Sim, the deal is something like for every £10 I top it up Tesco top it up by £20. Not 100% sure but it seemed good. She's had it 4 months, I've yet to put any more credit on it after the first £10. She's not lost it yet. If she does its not the end of the world.

bellavita Sun 29-May-11 15:48:04

Both mine have had them since about 9 years of age.

seeker Sun 29-May-11 15:58:33

I'm interested to know why peopel think theri children need phones at all. I'm not saying they shouldn't have them - they are a part of modern life and I don;t think a child should be the odd one out. But why do most children actually need one?

My dd did when she started secondary school, but it was for my convenience - we live in the sitcks and I would have spent a long time waiting at bus stops when she had missed the bus if she didn't have a phone.

But apart fro quite rare cases like ours, they don;t actually need a phone do they?

RockStockandTwoOpenBottles Sun 29-May-11 16:06:01

Seeker I think it's the law that if they haven't seen their friends for an hour they HAVE to be texting/calling them, or their arms will drop off. Or something. wink

elphabadefiesgravity Sun 29-May-11 16:09:03

I would say age 11 and having to travel alone to secondary school/stay after school for activities is a normal age.

At primary if an after school club is cancelled at my dc's school they go into after school care or the office calls you.

At secondary if something is cancelled they are left to get in touch themselves. In the "old days" that would be easy - they would go to the phone box outside the school- now there are virtually no phone boxes.

bellavita Sun 29-May-11 16:10:30

But why do children need anything seeker....

If you want your child to have a phone go ahead it is nobody elses business but yours.

ZZZenAgain Sun 29-May-11 16:12:51

I'd get him one when you think he needs it, in terms of being able to call his parents or for you to call him.

Otherwise whenever you want him to hve one.

WillyBumBalls Sun 29-May-11 16:15:52

I got my first mobile phone when I was 11 and started high school (1998) but it was only for emergnecies and mainly because I had a half hour walk to nursery and was being badly bullied so it was just incase I needed picking up fast.

larry5 Sun 29-May-11 16:18:03

My dd - now 19 - got her phone when she was 11 - just before going to secondary school. I wasn't that keen but it was necessary as she going to school about 5 miles and 50 minute bus journey away. (dreadful traffic). The school at one time had a pay phone but as it got broken so many times they weren't prepared to have one anymore.

She did a number of after school clubs from which I would collect her so if they were cancelled I would need to know.

seeker Sun 29-May-11 16:20:51

"But why do children need anything seeker...."

Absolutely. I think they should have them. It's essential for being part of the crowd - that's why I don't think you should give a child a really really basic Tesco own brand - what's the point of that? The don;t actually need a phone for practical purposes, they need one to fit into the group. So it needs to be a nice one!

I'm just curions about people saying that their child needs a phone because they get the bus and things like that. Generations have managed without!

FourFingeredKitkat Sun 29-May-11 16:24:52

"Absolutely. I think they should have them. It's essential for being part of the crowd - that's why I don't think you should give a child a really really basic Tesco own brand - what's the point of that? The don;t actually need a phone for practical purposes, they need one to fit into the group. So it needs to be a nice one!"

Good grief, I really, really hope you're joking! biscuit

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