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Average age for first cell phone is now 11.6 years-old

A new survey conducted for Verizon Wireless and Parenting.com has found that the average age for a first cell phone has fallen to 11.6-years-old. And it looks like this trend is set to continue: 10 percent of parents report that their children were between the ages of 7 and 9 when they received their first phone.

When asked about the reasons for providing their children with cell phones, over 95 percent of parents said it was for emergencies or for the parents’ peace of mind, knowing that they can reach their children at all times. However, despite this concern for their children’s physical safety and whereabouts, there is less emphasis on safe use of the phone itself: As many as one in five parents haven’t set up any rules for how their children’s phones should be used.

When asked how they think their children use their phones, the overwhelming majority said they use them for calling (51.4 percent) or texting (41.9 percent). Less than 7 percent think their children use their phones for online apps, social media, or taking photos and video.

Where rules are in place, they are more often about when and where the phones can be used, rather than establishing guidelines on privacy issues or sending inappropriate photos or texts. Continuing access to a cell phone is less about how it is used but more often contingent on maintaining good grades or responding promptly to calls or texts from Mom and Dad.

When looking for information about wireless tips and safety guidelines, one in 10 parents surveyed said that they don’t know where to get help. However, 47 percent of parents look to online sources. Verizon Wireless notes that they offer several tools that can help parents manage their families’ wireless experience, including Usage Controls, Family Locator, and Content Filters.

For more information on these and other Verizon resources, visit www.verizonwireless.com/safeguards or http://parentalcontrolcenter.com.

At what age did you or will you buy your children their first cell phones? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

Comment by Cocopie77326, posted 5/26/2014, 9:22 AM:

My mom said i can get a phone when i turn 12 but i think i should get one when school starts so i can can text her when i need to or to call 911 if emergencies situations appear
Comment by baba, posted 12/16/2012, 5:06 PM:

Im 12years young and i dont have a cell phone my mom and dad say it wont happen this year how do i convince them i NEED one!?!?!
Comment by Kate, posted 11/16/2012, 12:59 AM:

Wow! times have changed really fast. I'm 26 and I got my first cellphone at 19 years of age! I graduated from high school in '04 and I remember only a handful of students that had cellphones. I bet if someone is in high school now and doesn't own a cellphone their classmates think they're weird or something. I'm starting to feel old sigh....
Comment by jessie jean, posted 11/4/2012, 10:11 AM:

Is it harming children to have a cell phone at a young age? They also have computers earlier, gameboy, televisions and ipods earlier. I would think its because we are in age of technology and that is only going to continue. My son was 8 when he received his phone, I got him the phone so that I could reach him at all times.it gave me more range than a walkie talkie which was previously used for around the neighborhood. It also allowed for frequent contact with his Dad after our divorce.
Comment by Tom, posted 1/29/2012, 5:15 PM:

What about kids losing or misplacing a cell phone?
Comment by Robyn Wright of RobynsOnlineWorld.com, posted 9/15/2011, 11:26 AM:

I'm sad to see the age falling. I think it is rare that a child really needs a phone that young. Instead I think it is more about the kids pestering their parents to get one because "everyone else has one" and the parents giving in. My son was 13 when he got his first phone and that was because it was when he started not being around us necessarily as much - even then it was a little young I think. Great statistics in this post!
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