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Fayette-Mom: Cell phones for six-year-olds?

Posted February 7, 2011 8:42 p.m. EST
Updated February 7, 2011 8:44 p.m. EST

Jennifer Joyner

Wow, my last post caused quite the discussion in the comments section about how technology-savvy our kids can and/or should be.

Let me say for the record: my 7-year-old daughter has an iPod because last year she wanted to listen to and practice her dance recital music. We got her the least-expensive model (the Shuffle) and we have to approve every song that she listens to. She doesn’t know how to add songs to her iPod. I’m sure she’ll learn quickly, and we’ll have to monitor that!

I was really surprised at how many of her friends received the iPod Touch for Christmas. I don’t even have one of those! But I’m aware that families make choices that they believe are best for them.

With that said, I have another question: At what age do children get cell phones these days? I thought my kids wouldn’t get them for many years to come. Imagine my surprise when one of our neighbors, just 6 and a half years old at the time, whipped out a cell phone one day! I asked him who it belonged to, thinking that maybe his mom gave it to him while he was on a play date. But no: It was his.

Wow! Do kids really get cell phones that young? What is the reason? My kids are either at school or they are with me. Sure, they go on play dates and they have supervised activities after school in which they participate. But with play dates, I know the moms and their phone numbers. With the supervised activities, I am usually there watching, or if I can’t be there, I always make sure another mom I know is staying.

Someone suggested perhaps kids whose parents are divorced have cell phones so that the parent they are not with can always reach them. That I understand. But what are the other cases in which a cell phone for a 6-year-old is appropriate?

If you know something I don’t, and believe me, that is quite possible, please enlighten me in the comments. IPods, I understand. With cell phones, I am (apparently) clueless.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.