Parental Tips

What Age Should a Kid Get a Phone? The Ultimate Guide to Deciding

Deciding when to get your child a cell phone is one of the most important and monumental decisions you will ever make. A cell phone opens the door to much more than just the ability to call family and friends. Today’s advanced smartphones are essentially powerful computers that offer unlimited access to the world in the palm of your hand.

So at what age should a child get a phone? And how can you tell if your child is ready for this important milestone? Our guide below covers how kids of different ages—from younger children to those in middle school—react to smartphones. We also offer potential alternatives, such as using a smartwatch, and consider research from Child Mind Institute and Common Sense Media to answer the main question as correctly as possible.


Why Kids Should Have Phones

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We all want to protect our kids from the world as much as possible. Many parents dread the day their child or teenager gets access to their very own cell phone. You may even be wishing you could just put it off forever. At some point though, allowing your children access to this modern technology becomes a ‘necessary evil’.

Emergencies do happen, cell phones help facilitate easier communication, and your kids will be using them in their adult years for everything from online banking to documenting your future grandchildren’s first steps.

But the reasons for you to get a phone for your kid aren’t only for emergencies and communication. You shouldn’t underestimate that they will appreciate having their own phone and believe they look cool. Using the device to capture images and create memories with friends can also be an important benefit since your child can look back and remember those moments in years to come.

The phone opens up a whole new world for the child with access to a ton of information. They can read books, play educational and entertaining games, train their thinking and logical skills, and much more. Social networks will contribute to establishing strong ties with peers, and access to new, interesting information will help to get acquainted with the outside world and increase the baggage of knowledge.

If you are still not sure what is the right age for a kid to get a phone, perhaps useful apps that help protect your kid will give you the necessary peace of mind to go ahead with this step.

With tools like the Findmykids app, you can not only monitor kids’ screen time but know where they are at every moment. You can even tap in and listen to the child’s surroundings if they don’t respond to your calls.

Of course, in addition to the obvious advantages, having a phone and access to a large amount of information is fraught with dangers.

Bad Reasons to Get Your Child A Cell Phone


No matter what your child may say and how much they may beg, some arguments are just not a good enough reason to get a cell phone. You want to be sure that your family is agreeing to get your child a phone for the right reasons.

To cave into peer pressure and silence whining (i.e. ‘All my friends have one and I’m the only one who doesn’t) is NOT a good reason to buy your child a phone.

Beyond encouraging materialism and peer conformity, it also teaches kids that their parents will just give in to their demands. This only leads to spoiled children and entitled adults later on. On the other hand, practicing patience and working to earn responsibilities such as a cell phone will help build the strong character that kids will need later in life to succeed.

Because they want to surf the internet, it can be tempting to push your kids off by giving them yet another device to entertain themselves with. But all internet access during a child’s formative years should be done at home with supervision and under the watchful eye of parents. Kids who just want a phone to play games or talk with friends online can do so at home via an iPad, desktop or laptop computer. They simply aren’t ready to have unlimited, unmonitored access to the outside world just yet.

Is Your Child Ready for A Cell Phone?


Some consider that the best age for a kid to get a smartphone is between the age of 12 and 14. But the truth is that there’s no ideal age, so the decision is up to you. After all, you can choose a children’s smartwatch or a kids’ cell phone with no internet functions until they are ready for an advanced device.s

So, the trick is in analyzing the child’s maturity level before deciding at what age should a kid get a phone. Here are some important factors to consider:

  • Assess their level of responsibility. Do you think that your kid won’t lose their smartphone? Consider if they are frequently forgetting or losing items and only purchase the device if you think they will take care of it properly.
  • Analyze past behavior. Do you believe that the kid’s behavior in the past shows they deserve a smartphone? Do they have good grades and are staying out of trouble? If yes, they might be mature enough for a device like a smartphone.
  • Maturity level and following the rules. It’s not a disaster if your kid breaks a rule here and there, but if they are constantly breaking rules and not following your orders, perhaps they aren’t mature enough for a cell phone.
  • Assess their activities. Is your kid spending a lot of time on after-school sports practices, or visiting summer camps? If they are often away from home, having a smartphone is a wise choice to be able to communicate.
  • Internet access. Many kids’ phones come without internet access, and for a good reason. While assessing whether your kid should get a phone, don’t forget to analyze if it should have the internet. They should prove they can use the web without entering into trouble and understand how to steer clear of potential predators.
  • Cost. The general rule is you shouldn’t go with too expensive devices, at least at first. A cheap smartphone with a decent camera should be more than enough for a child, at least until they reach middle school or become a teenager.
  • Mental Health. Children with tendencies towards anxiety and depression, or those who struggle with ADHD and other special needs will need to be monitored extra closely, particularly with social media.

How a Phone Affects Kids of Different Ages?


The answer to the question ‘at what age should a kid get a phone’ ultimately depends on the parents and their decision when they believe the child is ready for these digital devices. Before you decide, here’s what experts say about how a mobile phone could affect kids at various points in their lives!


Experts believe that you should keep kids under two away from all screens, enabling them to focus on live interactions and developing social skills. Actual communication and interaction with other humans are beneficial to become more social, and there’s also the scientific part. Playing games on phones leads to dopamine release, but younger kids might get hooked to resorting to this option more often than in the amounts that are healthy for them.

While some experts consider you can let kids under five use cell phones but set screen time limits to no more than an hour a day, others think it’s too early. Perhaps you can consider a child’s phone without internet access or a kid’s smartwatch.

The Pingo Track watch is the best gadget for kids of this age! You can secure your child from a distance without worries.



At this age, kids aren’t that dependent on their parents and spend more time away. That could be in school or during other activities, such as playing with friends. It’s why most children at this age have mobile devices—parents need a way to communicate with them at any point.

But although phones could be a smart idea, it’s also wise to restrict social media usage. Kids might start using social networks even though they still aren’t old enough (13 is the age requirement on most major social networks). Apart from internet threats like predators and cyberbullying, children might develop confidence issues if they don’t get peer validation on these platforms.

Download the Kids360 app to keep your child safe online!


If you wonder at what age should a kid get a phone, this is definitely a point where they should be mature enough for these devices. And most children will likely have a smartphone already, so you don’t want your kid to miss out.

You can sit down and discuss how to use the phone and its functions properly and responsibly. It’s up to you whether you’ll choose a device with unlimited access to the internet, but installing parental control apps like Findmykids is still recommended. It can help track your child’s location to provide you peace of mind and secure that they are using the device wisely and aren’t exposed to any potential threats.

Teaching Cell Phone Safety & Healthy Habits


Regardless of how old your child is when you decide to finally bite the bullet and purchase them their very own cell phone, there are some basic rules and guidelines they should follow.

Screen Time Limits

Ideally, your children will eventually learn how to set their own limits. However, we all know this is something that even adults can struggle with and screen addiction is a real thing.

Studies show that excessive cell phone use is bad for your child’s mental health. To assist, parents can install and set up special apps like Kids360 to set password-enforced screen time limits. When the time runs out—the apps stop working.

Responsible Usage

Kids (and adults) should also be expected to follow basic family rules such as no phones during family time, mealtimes, and bedtime. In addition, there should be no texting or playing on the phone while driving, in class, or at church. Practice what you preach here, parents! In fact, you might even want to consider a Family Media Agreement.

Stranger Danger

This old adage is all the more important online. Never communicate with strangers you don’t know on the internet. Make it very clear to your child that this rule applies to all apps, emails, social media, games, and texting. They should also know to report any suspicious contact to a parent.

Digital Responsibility

The Findmykids app

The installation and usage of parental controls is a non-negotiable requirements for many families. Depending on your child’s age, you will want to consider what types of apps you’d like to install on their phone. Many families set the rule that if their child wants a phone—they must allow mom & dad access to their device at all times and/or must allow their parents to install and use monitoring & tracking software.

Apps vary from time trackers to GPS locators and text message loggers. Check out some of the best here.

Financial Responsibility

Make sure kids and teens know they should not purchase apps and other items without parental consent. Some families choose to set a budget that kids must abide by. You can also make these items password-protected to avoid unwanted or accidental purchases.

Personal Responsibility

This includes being responsible for their belongings—such as that $1000 iPhone! You may even want to create a rule that if your child permanently loses or breaks their phone—you won’t be getting them another one. Some families prefer to have their child work to earn a new phone if theirs becomes lost or damaged.

Online Safety

Some basic internet safety rules that your child must learn include: never giving out personal information or passwords to anyone online, being careful about sharing photos with others, and not posting anything online that could hurt their reputation or employment chances later in life.

Avoid Cyberbullying

Your child needs to be aware that bullying others online will not be tolerated, and that they should immediately report to you any instances of cyberbullying they either experience or witness.

Related: Effective Ways to Break Free from Phone Addiction.

Alternatives To Smartphones

What can you do if you determine that your child is just not ready for a cell phone, but you want to be able to track them anyway? Thankfully, today’s innovative companies have come up with a variety of solutions to this all-too-common dilemma. These include GPS watches for kids, child tracking devices, and specially designed phones just for kids. Most of these GPS watches and devices also come with emergency voice calling.

Findmykids designed Pingo Track, which many believe is the best smartwatch for children and the perfect alternative to a cell phone. The watch features GPS technology to track your child’s location, but also to create safe zones and enable alerts if your kid leaves them. There’s no risk of technology addiction, but kids can still enjoy using phone and video call options.

So, At What Age Do Kids Get Phones?

Deciding when to get a child their very first cell phone is an individual decision that each family will have to make together. That decision will vary based on very important factors such as the maturity of your child and the dynamics of your family.

It’s not so much about what age is right for cell phones as it is what maturity level is necessary for responsible use. With careful consideration, watchful supervision, and thoughtful discussion, getting your child or teen their first cell phone doesn’t have to be such a scary milestone after all.



Is it OK for an 11-year-old to get a phone?

Some studies indicate that over 50% of children in the USA have smartphones at the age of 11. At this point, the child’s maturity level should be adequate to understand how to use these devices wisely, and parents will appreciate having a way to get in touch with their kid at any moment.

Should I allow my child to take their phone to school?

Yes, it’s recommended because it will enable you can stay in touch in case of emergencies. Many parental control apps or kids’ phones have features that could limit screen time access during classes. You can also talk to your child and explain to them they shouldn’t use their phone actively while in school, but only if it’s truly necessary.

How much screen time is too much for my child?

It depends on the age, but experts suggest not letting kids by the age of five spend more than an hour in front of digital screens. You can increase this time as they age, but make sure that they don’t become hooked to spending all their free time on their phones.

What are some benefits of giving my child a phone at a young age?

For starters, you can always call them to learn about their whereabouts and even track them via GPS technology. Also, your kid will learn about using digital devices at an early point, which can be an advantage in this modern era. Finally, the child will feel cool if they have a smartphone, and feel good since you estimated they are mature enough for the device.

Resources for Further Reading

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