The answer is when your parents think you need one, though many kids seem to be getting them around age 11 or 12. Some younger kids may have them because their parents see it as an issue of safety and convenience. For instance, a kid can call or text mom and dad when sports practice is over. And a cell phone can give kids almost instant access to their parents if something goes wrong or they need help. Likewise, it can give parents quick access to their kids so they can check on them and make sure they're OK.
If you do get a cell phone, work out some rules with your parents. Some plans charge you extra if you send too many texts or talk too long. Also hammer out some other details: When can you use your phone? When must the phone be turned off? And what will you do if someone calls you too often or leaves a mean message for you?
You'll also want to make sure you take care of this new item in your life. Have a routine for keeping it charged and storing it in the same place so it doesn't get lost. And whatever you do, don't use it in the bathroom. We know someone who dropped her phone in the toilet!
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: June 2013
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