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What age is OK for a Cell Phone?

There are "needs" and there are "wants" in life and in many ways a child cell phone can fit into both categories.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting topics.

This week’s Moms Talk question relates to children and cell phones.

Growing up, the right of passage for me was that fateful day when I would be able to get a telephone in my ROOM. For my older son, apparently, it will be the day he gets to walk around with a telephone in his POCKET. He’s only in third grade, and he’s already asking about it.

I am pretty sure that the phone in my room came at age 13. Is that what I should tell him? Is a cell phone and an extension off your parent’s house phone really the same thing? I’m not sure…

So, here’s what I want to know:

What age do you think is the right one to give a child a cell phone? And, when that time comes, what kinds of parameters will you put in place to guide its use?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mother of two. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Motherof1 October 11, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Hey Tolstoy, I gave my educational background only because Vincent Lynn inquired as to what it was. A direct response to a direct question. You did see that, didn't you? I don't care what my profession is, either. I thought this was a forum for people to give their opinions as to what age when it is appropriate to give a minor child a cell phone. I did. I also dug a little deeper, to try to expose and explore the broader implications the topic presents. I am now being attacked for having a strong opinion and defending it. I have been called sanctimonious and pious. I have been accused of attacking a mom. I have been criticized as someone being out of touch specifically because I have only 1 child and presumably loads of free time on my hands. You did read that, didn't you? Were those not judgments? I have judged no one here as I do not know any of these parents personally. I have been critical of certain behaviors (not people) and please forgive me, for I am taking my cue from the judiciary. I am focusing on the best interests of the child, not the parent. This is the standard by which these parents would be judged if any of them ever disagree with each other to the point they wind up in a courtroom. I am perfectly fine with other parents disagreeing with my opinion. Good for them. Good for you, too. Honest, rigorous debate is what makes this America. I suspect you may be a Democrat. If I am correct, I also suspect you may be having a bad week.
Tolstoy October 11, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Yawn. Actually I am not a democrat. Nor am I a GOP fan. Too divisive, both of them, preferring to throw stones instead of taking action, preferring ineffectual pandering to work and feasible solutions. Come to think of it, as you seem to enjoy what you perceive as insulting strangers I would bet you identify strongly with one of the parties. Can't complain about the week; 85 degrees, a happy, healthy family, and nothing going wrong at the moment; bless your little heart for thinking of it, I hope yours is the same.
Motherof1 October 11, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Tolstoy, I just read the post about your child. I truly apologize, for I read the last one first, then made dinner, then read the top, instead of reading top down. You clearly know what devastation childhood cancer brings to a family. No one can really understand unless they go through it. I was defensive with that other parent because it appeared they were passing a snap judgment on me for having only 1 child. I hope you are healing from your family's tremendous loss. I try to live by the motto that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I also believe that children choose us before they are born and I believe your oldest chose you because you have the unique qualities your child knew they'd need. Although my child survived, I am still in a healing process because I feel I got robbed of certain things other parents can take for granted, like giving a baby a bubble bath, which you know you can't do when they have a central port. My son now has A.D.H.D.; C.H.O.P. says it's from the chemotherapy in infancy; he has pervasive developmental delay and speech delay. I do the Saucon Valley Relay for Life each year and my son walks the survivor's lap and loves to give hugs and hope to the older folks waging their battles with cancer. I'm still not getting my son a cell phone, but the only judgment I'm passing on you here today is that God only gives us what we can handle and He clearly trusts you with some awesome responsibilities. I am truly humbled.
careless fills October 11, 2012 at 01:37 AM
as a former coach, i didn't care (or even necessarily want) parents to stick around at practices, just be on time to pick kids up. i think most coaches, including my kids' coaches, felt the same way
Tolstoy October 11, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Okay Mother of 1- I just saw that above. I doubt that poster was judging you, she is one of the least judgemental people around. In fact, what may have happened here is a result of what I spoke of- no community among mothers. Thus we all feel judged all too often, and perhaps act in haste. Every morning I am appalled when I read the news, at the constant stream of child abuses, kidnappings, murders, bullying. There are days it really gets to me. And what I really believe is that most parents, whether they are right or not, really do want to do right by their children. It would be so much easier to dialogue, form bonds, support eachother, if the whole "I'm better than you" mentality would cease to dominate. We can all gets phones whenever we want or never, breast or bottle, vax or not, work or SAHM, Gluten free or not, and still love our kids equally (some of these as I'm sure I'm sure you know are rampantly discussed, debated and all too often judged in the autism community especially). I thank you for your reply, and I am, truly, so happy that yourself and your son get to do that relay together. WIshes for him to grow strong and well, and you to find peace with what you missed, and the innocence you lost. It's a long road, but you will get there.

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