On our Facebook community page, I asked, "Would you give an 8-11 year old a mobile phone? If so, with what (if any) restrictions?"
Who is an 8-11 year old going to need to call that warrants their own phone? ~ Stephanie
Diabetes & autism are in my family. The kids' phones don't take photos or text and [may not accept] answering calls from a number that doesn't show a name (saved in contacts). Prepaid phone. ~ Tiff
I think it depends. I know lots of 11 year olds who have activities outside of the home that they are dropped off for. Sports,art,instrument,etc. In that case I think its important for you to be able to get a hold of them and vice versa. ~ Chris
No. My daughter (10) will have a phone once she can buy one herself and pay the bill herself. ~ Sandra
I recently attended an online AT&T Mobile Safety School. Here are the surprising statistics AT&T shared with attendees:
Our oldest two children shared a cell phone when they were 11 and 13. They did not use it at home, and were not able to text or use it for internet use. Whoever was not with us (she at ballet; he on overnight trips with the Civil Air Patrol) took the phone.
Those two are now 15 and 17, and have had phones of their own since they were 12 and 14. They still don't have smartphones so they cannot browse the internet, but they do have unlimited texting. She texts friends but asks before deleting messages when the phone fills up, knowing I can check the bill to compare; he doesn't enjoy texting and can rarely find his phone.
Our 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter do not have phones, as they are not yet participating in activities away from us.
Here's something I learned: When our older daughter had her own cell phone, at 12, I warned her of "sexting" and other concerns. After a few warnings she said, "Mama, I don't even know what those things mean. You're teaching me stuff." I decided then to just monitor her closely, without teaching her what was possible to do. Our homeschooling community is strong and I'm protective she makes quality friendships with good kids. Those are the kids she is texting. She has had a phone for 4 years now, and still hasn't encountered the concerns of cell phones.
How to Learn More:
AT&T has put together a variety of resources to help parents. From learning what other families are doing through videos, or downloadable tip sheets, the AT&T Family Safety website has a wealth of information available to anyone who is interested. I especially enjoyed the videos from parents and the resources page.
Join me for an AT&T Twitter party on Friday, Nov. 9, at 2p ET. RSVP here.
What is your family's preference and/or experience with mobile phones? How do you keep your children safe?
I am working on the AT&T Mobile Safety campaign via The Motherhood. All thought and opinions are 100% my own.