At What Age Is a Cell Phone Appropriate?

My daughter’s ninth birthday is in a couple of weeks, and for the last several months, one present request has played over and over: a cell phone. “Mom, at least half my class has an iPhone already. If I’m too young for a phone, why do they get to have one?” It has been a difficult decision to make. My first instinct is to say, No way! Story already lives on her computer — not to mention tablet and mp3 player. She certainly doesn’t need yet another device. Add in the social pressures of Twitter, Facebook, and all the other apps kids use to abuse one another, and the kid isn’t going to get a phone until they have gone the way of the dodo. Even so, I have decided to get her a cell phone, and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve long joked about microchipping my daughter — just a tiny GPS implant that tells me where she is at all times, nothing she would ever notice. But if I get her a phone, I won’t have to risk the associated jail time. She will be like the rest of us and never go anywhere without her phone, thus making tracking her easier than explaining away a small outpatient procedure.

I want her to be able to reach me when she needs to. Story isn’t always by my side, and if she needs her mom, I want her to know that I am there. But the security goes beyond the emotional. If she is in a dangerous situation, she can reach me or emergency services. Such physical security is necessary in all women’s or girls’ lives, as we well know.

Story is growing up, and she doesn’t always want to talk to her mom about things. She has a grandma, aunts, and mom 2 (Ali) to talk to, and if she wants to share something personal with one or all of them, she should have the means to do so.

I don’t have to worry about her breaking my phone. Okay, this one is selfish, but seriously. She wants my phone all the time. Unlike her, I NEED my phone, so every time I lend it, I am an anxious wreck until I get it back from her. With a new phone comes the rule: Mom’s phone is off limits.

But the most convincing argument I have found is that phones these days have incredible options. I could get her a basic cell phone that has no internet access or a smartphone that has parental controls out the wazoo. I need to speak with someone who is much more tech savvy than myself to make the final decision of make and model, but I am comfortable getting my soon-to-be-nine-year-old a cell phone.

We would love to hear you weigh in on the conversation. Tell us how young is too young to get a cell phone in the comments below!