There’s a question nowadays that many parents feel the need to answer; when is the best time for your child to get their first cell phones? This question has no right answer and is ultimately up to your discretion as a parent. Comparing the risks and benefits can help to make this decision easier for your family. Let’s take a closer look at both. 

When Do Most Children Receive Their First Cellphone?

According to statistics, 45% of children in the United States have cell phones by the time they are 10-12 years old. Parents give them a phone at this age because they’re more likely to be participating in after school activities and be home alone.

What Are the Benefits?

The biggest pro of your offspring having a cellphone is that they’ll be able to communicate in emergencies. These days, many people don’t have landlines, so a cellphone would give you a point of contact with your kids if they’re home alone. 

Smartphones allow you to have vast information from around the world to be in the palm of your hand. Your child can research specific topics out of their own interest or for school. 

Socializing with friends is essential for young adolescents, and cellphones allow them to do so. Keeping in contact with friends is useful for building relationships and learning how to communicate with others.

What Are the Risks?

One of the primary risks of children having cell phones is the electromotive force, or EMF, radiation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released information regarding the radiation exposure that cellphones emit, which can cause damage to the nervous system and destroy cells. Consider buying an EMF protection product if your child does have a cellphone. EMF Harmony mentions that they are available for all types of devices. 

Cell Phones often serve as distractions to children and can cause a multitude of problems. This long list includes obesity due to a sedentary lifestyle, anxiety, lack of sleep, and poor academic performance. 

While socializing can be positive for children, the impact that cellphones have on social skills can be detrimental to younger children. Cyberbullying is a significant concern for children with cellphones. According to recent research, many children between third and fifth grade have been cyberbullied or partaken in it themselves.

Explicit content is all over the internet, meaning young children could find it quite easily. This fact is a concern, so consider using parental controls on your child’s devices.

How to Set Your Child up for Success With Their First Phone

Setting limitations on the use of your child’s phone is one of the most optimal ways to ensure their safety and success.

Consider limiting the time they are allowed to be on their phone. This rule can include the hour before bed, during homework, and during meals with the family. Make sure your child isn’t glued to their phone screen all the time.

Ask for their passwords to their phone and social media accounts. Doing random checks can ensure their safety and monitor who they’re speaking with. 

Communicate the risks openly with your children. Discuss the dangers of cyberbullying, including the signs of it. Chat rooms are one of the common places this can happen.

More importantly, talk with your kids about chatting with people they’ve never met before. The dangers of sharing personal information and messaging for long periods with unknown persons can be hazardous, and your child should understand this. 

For overall safety, consider using a ‘Family Media Usage Plan.’


Giving a child a cellphone is a tricky decision and one that you shouldn’t take lightly. Consider the risks and benefits before giving your child a smartphone, and speak openly to them about your decision. The best way to ensure your family’s success is to communicate openly and make decisions that are fitting for everyone!

About the author

Lauren LaPorte

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