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What is the right age for kids to have a cell phone?


One expert tells us it is not about a kid's age that determines if they're ready for a phone - it is about how responsible they are.
 

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Jenny Xiong's kids are young enough to think simple.

They are still happy talking into phones without a person on the other end.

But she knows one day that will change and real cell phones will be on their minds.

"I'm thinking 8th grade and high school," Xiong said about the age when her kids would likely get their first phones.

She has a rough game plan for when that day comes but not every parent does.

"Children are always getting cell phones at younger ages and it's not necessarily a bad thing," said Mary Geissler, a Family Living Educator with UW-Extension.

She says there is no magic age to when it's a good time for a cell phone. Ultimately, she says it comes down to behavior and responsibility.

"Watch how they are in other areas of their life, if they are showing responsible habits early on, and then they can probably be trusted with a cell phone," she said.

And just like the phone companies do with us, she says draw up a contract. This one should lay down several ground rules for using the phone, including how to handle text messages and the net.

"If they do violate the rules, it's like any other privilege in the home, it can be confiscated or taken away for a short period of time," she said.

And do not go all out on the phone, she says stick to a basic phone to start that can be used for talk and text.

And most importantly she says, in this situation you cannot be a pal, you have to be a parent.

"You have to be the one that sets the standards and you have to make your child understand it is a privilege to use it, as long as mom and dad are footing the bill for it, you do have something to say about it," she said.


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