At What Age Should Kids Get Their First Phone?

What’s the right age for kids to have their very first phone? What’s your opinion? Have you got any experiences to share?

This is a current dilemma for this family with our ten-year-old twins who are desperate for phones of their own.

School starts all too soon and I bet loads of us are wondering whether this is the right time to buy phones for our children.

Our older boys

Our teenagers are now 19 and 17 and have smartphones in their hands all the hours of the day and occasionally some of the night too.

We bought them iPhones on Optus plans when they started high school. They were thrilled of course. But that’s not something I intend to do again.

Their plans were postpaid and both ran up at least one massive bill which they had to painfully repay. And iPhones are wildly expensive. Many screens have been smashed over the years too and these cost a lot to repair.

Saving money with the twins

In our new era of fiscal responsibility, Paul and I just can’t afford the massive costs of iPhones and we totally don’t need to spend a lot. We’ll also never get postpaid plans for any kids again, prepaid is so much better.

The teens now have prepaid plans with Optus which they pay for themselves these days.

Paul says he’d like the twins to only get a phone when they can pay for it all themselves. A bit harsh maybe?

The two of them are starting to go on buses and to walk and cycle further afield.

I’d quite like them to have a simple, practical phone with them so that I could call them when I need them. They could also contact me if they needed help or advice… or a lift.

I’d also like to be able to track their phones so that I can find out exactly where they are at any time. Big Brother isn’t watching, it’s Big Mother.

Twins please note, we expect you to get jobs and start paying for your own phones as soon as you can.

I’d love to hear from you. Do your children have phones? At what age did they get them? What are your experiences?

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23 Comments

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Oh that is such a good idea…. mine see their big brothers with their own phones and get very annoyed that they don’t have them yet…. and there are many other ways in which having older siblings makes them want to grow up too fast too. Sigh

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Yes, that’s what we’ve always said until now too… as I wrote my big boys got them for high schools, but with very strict limits… at 19 and 17 we do still have some limits on them during school terms and for the working week, much to their horror.

      1. says: Groshvin Grover

        Im in high school, i have A’s and B’s in my report card, i have asked for my parents for a smartphone and still they wont give it to me. I catch the train monday to friday and come back in a train too. I am 12 years old. Any tips for telling my parents to get me phone for Christmas?

        1. says: Seana Smith

          Hmmmm…. well, the thing is, if they don’t want you to have one… then they might not even get you one for Christmas. They might be concerned that you would spend too much time playing games and doing social media, so you could suggest that you agree limits… then stick to them and make their life easy. Or you could say that you are very serious and start asking them for jobs that they might pay you for, so that yu could save and buy your own one? My daughter sold a lovely doll on Ebay which she didn’t play with much any more. She got enough money to buy herself the Sleek featured here.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Yes they do.. and excellent wifi controls for home networks too… you have a long time until you need to worry about it. In fact I bet by the time high school comes there will be some totally novel device to worry about. Wow, what a thought. Enjoy the primary years!

  1. says: Maraya

    My teenagers had one phone to share and then they got iPhones in about year 8.

    Tully has an old itouch that she calls her phone and carries it in her bag to take photos. She’s a bloggers child ?

    1. says: Seana Smith

      She’s going to need a laptop any minute. The younger siblings of older kids are quite different, aren’t they? They see their older siblings and they are more grown up in a way than the first batch were. My wee lass keeps talking about her own blog and Youtube channel. I think I’m a bad influence.

  2. My youngest got his first mobile phone in Year 5 when he got into an opportunity class of a school several suburbs away and was required to catch public i.e. non school buses there and home. Thus his first phone was a safety decision. Otherwise I probably would have waited until he was in Year 7.

  3. says: Michal

    I would love to avoid getting my kids phones but there is now way around it – in time they will have to get phones, specifically so I can find them.

    Do both those phones have glass screens? I hadn’t yet factored in the cost of having to replace screens.

    Thanks for an interesting and useful post!

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Very true, and the leash just gets longer and longer as they age. I just finally had a text from Teen17 after 24 hours away from home. I restrained myself and didn’t text him at all… just to prove to myself I could let go. Was v glad to hear from him that he’s on the way home.

  4. says: Maxabella

    I always thought high school would be the right age – 13 years. The sfr when technically they are allowed into social media platforms.

    As it turned out, they are inherited old iPhones from us in Year 6. Finding s pre-paid plan that doesn’t expire quickly has been my aim so the long Expiry plan here is awesome.

  5. says: Sue

    My.miss 11 has a timely guardian watch which can make and receive phone calls but only to up to 10 numbers that I set in My phone. It was about $100 (last yr) and it costs $15month with optional $2.50Month insurance which I’ve found to.be well worth it. She can’t take photos or access the internet or txt but I.Can call her n she can call me which is what it was intended for. Plus it’s a watch so harder to lose:-)

  6. says: Nat

    Until they are 16 monitor messages and texts, it is just too easy for young people to get carried away or pressured into saying or photographing stuff that they would not in ‘real’ life…and it’s there forever. Even if you think they are ‘too smart’ or have been given cyber safety talks, they are young, finding themselves and will likely make mistakes. Adults in their life need to look out for this, even if they are annoyed by it.

  7. says: Mel

    My son is turning 13 and i’m getting him a prepaid phone for his birthday, even though he has been walking to his bus stop and from it every day for the past 5yrs, and my step daughter has got her first phone at the age of 9 merely because my son has been hounding me for one. And her mum in a way just gives her what she wants.. i think a 9 yr old that gets picked up and dropped off to school and is rarely in a situation where she is a lone really needs one..
    I have my veiws and i’m sure she has her veiws as a parent but i think pre teen is to young but depends on the circumstances if they are walking to and from school alone or even with a friend or sibling then i would agree for them to have a phone on them.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Thanks Mel, one of ours may go on a four hour bus journey and although the bus driver will take care of unaccompanied minors, if he does go then we’ll make sure he has a phone with him.

      1. says: Melissa

        I totally agree with you there, my son has a school bus which im lucky and thankful for its just to and from the bus stop which is where there isnt an adult. Which i now think a phone is required and his of appropriate age also. And our house also isn’t far from both pick up and drop off.

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