Cell Phone & Kids

At what age should your child own a cell phone?

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Comments (58)

(51) Naomi Freeman, February 9, 2012 3:22 PM

My oldest son only got his first cellphone when he got married and he only has a kosher phone. He never felt deprived and never asked for one. My second son had one when he went to Israel for the first time to Yeshiva and it is also a kosher phone (no texting or internet access - it only makes and receives calls). My 20 year old has a phone which calls and texts, and my two youngest children - 17 and 13 do not have one at all. They have never felt deprived and know its' drawbacks. It helped that I was one of the last of my friends to get a phone and they know I only use it to pass over information, not to chat. If you show them the drawbacks and they see you yourself do not use the phone in a negative way, I feel they do not feel the need to have it.

(50) Marcos-AD Barros, December 24, 2011 7:48 PM

Cell phones and kids

As I see it the level of the child's maturity is to dictate when and the type of cell phone the child may go around with. My children started using cell phones after their fifteenth birthday.

(49) Octavian Mwabende, December 20, 2011 5:50 AM

The challenges of technology

We must agree that parenting in the 21st centuary will not be easy as say in the yester years. Cellphone technology like any other invention has advantages and disadvantages. Lets use the development to further our course and not to destroy. Use of cell phones should be in moderation, remember the radioactivity effect to these youngsters.

(48) Avrohom Kanarek, December 14, 2011 12:07 AM

Agree

None of my kids had cell phones until after they graduated high school, and they are not any worse off for it. Because it was a non issue they never even asked or kvetched. Why so many parents give in to their kids is pitiful. I work in a Yeshiva where we don't allow cell phones in school. I beg parents to make sure that their sons don't bring the phone to school, but to no avail. The parents can say, I will give it to you when you get home, but no that is too hard for them! The parents would rather pay for the phone and have it confiscated by me rather than argue or( parent properly) with their kids. It is a very dangerous situation and parents are losing the battle!

(47) Anonymous, December 11, 2011 9:32 PM

911 cellphone

I've been asking my parents for a cellphone for a while not because I want to text to my friends (I'm actually very against the idea of texting) but rather just in case of an emergency G-d forbid. I'm in sixth grade but I feel that in case of an emergency or just any time I need to call someone, I should have one with me. So I agree but I also disagree.

(46) Anonymous, December 11, 2011 8:49 PM

i agree 100%

i graduated highschool only a few years ago and I remember being so upset when i was one of the last girls in my class to get a cell phone, im pretty sure it was right before i started 12th grade, and now that i look back I'm mature enough to get over it, and not only that but be thankful that my parents waited so long and didnt give in just because everyone else had one. I think once your child gets their license having a cell phone is very important, but until then, dont give in so fast if yoiu dont believe they should have one., youre child wont get it then and yes they will be upset but it will teach them a lot, and maybe one day theyll even appreciate it like i do

(45) David, December 11, 2011 6:19 AM

Really, not much to think about

My kids have had cell phones since they were in elementary school. Today, both are teens, one in the 11th grade and one in the army, and their cell phone usage (measured by my monthly bills) is lower than any other family that I know. When they were growing up (and today) they traveled to school and to after-school activity by public transportation. They visited friends around the city and outside of the city. They would travel to visit their grandfather on his kibbutz. All of this was frequently without parents present. My kids had cell phones for my convenience more than theirs. If they were late or stuck or had some trouble, they phoned. If I wanted to know where they were or to meet them at a particular place I phoned them. When every member of the family has a cell phone it is a tremendous convenience. I don’t think that there is a lot to think about here.

(44) J, December 10, 2011 8:33 PM

Deja Vu

Same question was posted a few months ago. My answer is the same one. Problem is not technology but parenting. My neighbour kept complaining her 17y/o costed a fortune in cell phone use. I told her 'pay the first 50 shekels, the rest she should foot it herself'. Again I say I'm so GLAD I gave my own daughter her first cell at age 7. She started travelling by bus at the brak of Oslo war, or second intifada, in Jerusalem; the place most affected by blown up buses. Myself a single mother couldn't even afford to dream paying private transportation. The cell wouldn't have saved her live probably G-d forbid , had there been a terrorist attack, but it did kept my mental health in line with a modicum level of sanity. BTW she kept and still keeps her calls to a minimum. Think about poor Leiby Kletzky Z'L Hi"d, had he owned a cell at the time he got lost, would have called home, and all he needed to do was to wait 10-15 mins for mom or dad to come to the rescue. Maybe iphones, blackberries ect are not recommended for youngsters... but a cell phone???

(43) Harry Engel, December 10, 2011 12:29 PM

Dont agree with all children having a mobile phone

Children under 13 should not have a mobile phone as they do pot understand the ramifications of using and paying for a mobile (Cell) phone. However it is possible to give younger children a phone which JUST has the emergency number that is selected for them. This is unfortunately a necessity in todays society.

(42) Nami, December 10, 2011 4:07 AM

I'd get my kid a cell phone

There are cell phones that are designed to only store 4 phone numbers, so one can program in ONLY their child's primary emergency contacts. B"H, one day I will have children, and I will most likely get them a "parents phone" as I have taken to calling them.

(41) Aliza, December 9, 2011 7:48 PM

not going to happen

In this day and age its impossible to tell people not to get theyre 14yr olds phones and expect them to listen. Most people want it for security reasons. Its one thing if they shouldnt have texting or a data plan but no phone at all is never going to happen in the 21st century. But I do agree 8th grade is a little young but this is whats happening and its not worth denying it.

(40) Dori, December 9, 2011 3:05 PM

Mobile phones

I don't know where TMay is based but it is unlikely to be in the UK, since he/she betrays a lack of knowledge about the UK school system. To clarify, a "Public School" is a non-state (often charitable-foundation-based), (state-)independent, fee-paying boarding school for children of 13 and older. Independent boarding schools for 8 - 13 are usually known as Prep Schools (Preparatory Schools). There are also a number of independent, fee-paying day schools all over the country. About 7 or 8% of all school pupils are in these schools. One may argue about the ethos of some of these schools, but one thing is clear. If the parents don't like it (such as heating being turned off) they will vote with their feet and wallets. It is likely that Dalrymple's screed refers to the state sector, where even I think some sections are ruled more by ideology than by children's needs, but that is hearsay, since I have no direct experience - my son goes to an independent day school. I have to say that the whole state school setup in any country is a matter of ideology. How selective can you be? How much streaming does one do? Etc. To add something strange for Americans, in the UK we also have faith schools, both in the independent and state sectors. Anglican (English Protestant) and Catholic are the biggest group, unsurprisingly. Jewish schools are next, with several in the major conurbations. (Yes, they often have have at least sone children from other faiths...)

(39) Gabriel Lancaster MBE., December 9, 2011 12:43 PM

Complete agreement

I agree totally; Children are not adults and should not be playing with adult toys. There are better ways of providing security for the child without the risk of immature decisions leading to moral danger.

(38) Shimmy, December 9, 2011 2:01 AM

Really?

Cell phones are a tool to keep children safe and being for them to be able to communicate with their parents and vice versa is crucial their safety and well being. It is also crucial for the mindset of the parents to know their children are safe and a cell phone allows for the connection of communication from parent to child and for parent to know they are safe and in one peace.

Anonymous, December 10, 2011 10:41 PM

You have no idea

I got a mobile phone at a very young age. Let me tell you, in no uncertain terms, that i have experienced the evils and low levels which the mobile phone has allowed me to fall to. It is addictive too. There is a reason why the gedolai hador have said no mobile phones, and the gedolai hador, not that they need my haskama at all, are right. they have been and they always will be as they are guided by the torah. But i personally testify, from my own life, that you are killing them, spiritually. Never mind the effects on attention spans etc. Its not a case of the negatives outweighing the positives, or the other way round, there are no positives when the negavtives are those that i have alluded to above. Your concern is a avlid one. but find a better way to do it.

(37) asher engel, December 9, 2011 12:17 AM

let them taste independence

i am seventeen and i don't have a cell phone. until recently i thought it was very important to have a cell phone, but then i started driving, and i realized that no matter how important having a cell phone is, having independence is so much more important. so i say that kids should gain their independence before they gain their cell phones.

lisa, December 11, 2011 3:16 AM

your missing out...get yourself a cell phone!! Just know how & when to use it!!

(36) TMay, December 8, 2011 9:33 PM

cont'd 4

4 Cont’d The situation at the English school is an example of how a line has to be drawn in the sand, and how cell phones can help. There have been 2 situations that occurred in schools in elementary schools in the US this week that were ludicrous. In 1, the free speech of a child talking to another child for saying to his friend that the sub was “cute” and was overheard by the sub was suspended and as a result of backlash the administrator lost his job. I think the sub needs to find another career path. http://www.39online.com/entertainment/onlinedish/kiah-online-dish-9-year-old-suspended-after-calling-teacher-cute-story,0,2139706.story In the other, the right to self-defense against a bully in a violent situation by a 1’st grader, was turned upside down by school policies. http://bostonglobe.com/metro/2011/12/02/first-grader-accused-sexual-harassment/yKSB1IUyXCeJgyyM164DIL/story.html

(35) TMay, December 8, 2011 9:01 PM

3 continued

3 Continued. The write-up about the English school awakens us to the brainwashing in UK schools, and the censorship of speech in the UK since my message was posted 3x and deleted 3x on The Sun website despite being on topic, not being insulting, nor containing any offensive words. One sees a fear of ideas in the UK since elsewhere on British blogs of British papers the mention of Theodore Dalrymple gets deleted despite the fact that he is a brilliant observer, is not a racist, not prejudiced, does not engage in hate speech and in fact he writes about the decline of the mentality and values of the Anglo Saxon in England, not about minorities nor immigrants. He is a retired psychiatrist who had worked in the UK for hospitals and in the penal system and when he retired he could then start writing under his real name. IMHO the deletion of my posts referring to Mr. Dalrymple shows a lack of respect for the citizen that they cannot be entrusted to read an idea, nor be referred to a book, but need to be kept in cotton balls regarding thought. This is regressive like the list of prohibited books that the Catholic Church used to apply to schools and to societies. (The same censorship occurs on Leftist blogs in this country, like Indymedia.) The British don’t even know that they are “being protected” and don’t know what they are missing since they never get to see the post and don’t know that a recommendation to a book has been deleted. They don’t have talk radio in England. In the US, the Obama admin in the 2nd term will likely try to get rid of talk radio and freedom on the internet and do so with regulations that won’t attract attention, be under the radar, and, like Orwell, will be given a name that is the opposite of what it is doing like the “Fairness Doctrine”, and with Kagan on the USSC would likely be upheld, for the same motivation, to “protect the minds of US citizens, and turn them into sheeple so that the govt can act like wolves.

(34) TMay, December 8, 2011 9:00 PM

2 continued

2 This is a continuation of a post. What Theodore Dalrymple said applies to the British school situation: “Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.” A paragraph taken from “Our Culture, What’s Left Of It” by Theodore Dalrymple aka Anthony Daniels interview by Jamie Glazov FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, 8/31/2005 http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=7445

(33) TMay, December 8, 2011 8:58 PM

Children communicating with parents and vice versa

1 I mentioned earlier that children would be able to be in contact with their parents and parents would be in contact with children with cellphones. As it so happens this week something happened in a public school in England. A headmaster which I take means a principal decide to turn the heat off in the school on the coldest day of the year so far, 34 degrees F. He did this to make a smaller carbon footprint for the 640 pupil school of 11 to 16 yr olds. Had each child had a cell phone they could have texted their parents: "It's freezing here. Can I come home?" If 640 parents showed up and removed their child from this school run by an insane person and the school was empty, I have the feeling that the headmaster would have learned to not do this, or the school board would have removed him. All the patience that the British used to stand in queues(lines for shortage items) in WWII is now being applied to put up with this nonsense. The head master Mr Benzie (52) Ansel Academy Castle Cary Somerset England promises to keep doing this. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3980024/School-turns-heating-off-to-save-planet.html The paper Sun allows comments on their article although one cannot use Chrome to do so. The editors are arbitrary in what they allow to be posted and appear to follow no rules and appear to use censorship "to protect the minds of their readers" such that one cannot recommend that they read articles nor watch videos that are free on the internet such as by Theodore Dalrymple aka Anthony Daniels such as a paragraph taken from “Our Culture, What’s Left Of It” by Theodore Dalrymple aka Anthony Daniels interview by Jamie Glazov FrontPageMagazine.com | Wed 8/31/2005. http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=7445 nor recommend books to understand the destruction of their culture. My post was deleted 3 x. I will post what the excerpt said in another post as I am running out of space here.

(32) Mati, December 8, 2011 2:56 PM

Cell phones is the "it's all about me" generation

As you watch people with their phones walking, driving, sitting, on the bus, etc., you see that their is no interaction between one and the other. It is about thier world and that is it. Sometimes such causes the person to be so clueless of the things around them that they endanger themselves and others. Proper age: 21, which I believe should be the age for all things of "adulthood," including going to war. Otherwise make 18 the age of adulthood for all things.

(31) Lisa, December 8, 2011 2:37 PM

Can you hear me now??

There is no exact age. The world has changed since we were teenagers!! I dont like it either, albeit its our reality now. We should now focus on teaching our kids HOW to use the cell phone.

(30) Kerry, December 8, 2011 11:41 AM

No

What is the difference between using a lland-line and a cell phone? Nothing. I am at least your age, and I only use a cell phone, and would purchased one for my son at a young age. The point is, raise the children correctly, and they will not misuse their privileges. They screw-up, they lose the phone or car, or whatever else. .

EG, December 8, 2011 5:16 PM

internet, texting

He says it very clearly. There is a very big difference between a landline (which doesn't come along with the ability to click a button and view pornography!) and a cell phone! Texting also poses many dangers, believe it or not-- as all social networking sites do. And no matter how well you raise your kids, when it comes to the yetzer harah-- the evil inclination-- don't put your child at risk, just as you wouldn't allow a 3 year old to cross a busy intersection alone! Having said that, there are safety measures-- such as phones that block texting, internet, and only allow incoming/outgoing calls to certain numbers. So I know my child can reach me if necessary, but I also know that nothing wrong is going on with the phone.

Anonymous, December 11, 2011 3:20 AM

We are not talking about 3 year olds!!!

get your mind out of the gutter...MOST of us are not using our phones for porno!!! My kids phones dont have internet access........its a phone... not a television!!

(29) Dori, December 8, 2011 9:19 AM

It depends

PS. Our son's school successfully enforces a 'phones off during lessons' policy, of course, something with which I wholeheartedly agree. I suppose most/all schools have such a policy, but I have no idea how successful enforcement is.

(28) Batsheva, December 8, 2011 8:20 AM

health hazard

The dangers of radiation exposure are far greater in children than in adults. The dangers to adults are swept under the carpet to society's detriment, but to allow children to be exposed to such a danger is unacceptable. Cigaretes are bad for everyone's health, but at least there is an age minimum for purchasing them. Cell phones should be no different.

Dori, December 8, 2011 3:15 PM

No evidence of harm to health

Just a note to say that on the McGowan Institute/Pittsburg Cancer Inst referenced elsewhere the advice is "precautionary" and the author admits to the evidence being "controversial". This is a grudging concession to the fact that so far there is *no* evidence that mobile phones cause harm by radiation. Bear in mind that the modern digital ones emit far less than the old analogue ones used to (though I don't know about smartphones). Bald assertions about "danger" just sow needless doubt and worry. Studies are continuing and, I am sure, when good evidence is found of harmful effects we shall all find out about it. Funny how nobody complains about ubiquitous radio and TV waves that have been around for decades...

(27) Anonymous, December 8, 2011 6:36 AM

22 and still don't have a cell (by choice!!) and I'm so glad! :)

Anonymous, December 11, 2011 3:22 AM

Move into the 21st century!

Get yourself a cell phone & get yourself a life!! What are you proving to yourself or others that you dont have a cell phone??

(26) Jonah G Sinowitz, December 8, 2011 6:06 AM

How about adults?

Why should it be a child issue? Seems that adults in this area are no more mature or responsible.

(25) Simcha Mendel, December 8, 2011 5:35 AM

Rabbi Salomon is right!!!

I totally agree with Rabbi Salomon. My wife and my older children have cell phones, the youngest one being 19 yrs. of age. I am the only one in my family who does not have a cell phone and who does not want one, the main reason being the problem with the radiation which scares me and the other reason is due to the fact that it is another expense which for myself is unnecessary. It is a very unwise decision to allow younger children to own a cell phone due to the fact that it is unhealthy because of the radiation problem and also because children of any age, especially younger children must be monitored because they tend to abuse the privilege of owning a cell phone. The nervous system of younger children is not yet developed enough to be able to withstand the radiation. It is also not healthy for adults, but if it is not abused then in an emergency it is no problem. If a child absolutely needs a cell phone in an emergency then he or she can borrow one from some generous person who is willing to allow the child to use the cell phone for a short period of time. Never allow a young child to have his or her own cell phone because the child will not use it just for an emergency but will take advantage of it as well. Also, why do the parents need that extra expense which is totally unnecessary?

(24) Daniel, December 8, 2011 3:42 AM

I think that kids should definetly not get a smartphone. I work at a summer camp and some of the 8 year olds have Iphones. Heck i dont even have one. I think that it certainly depends on the circumstance. If the kid takes city transit then they should have a phone that can call and possibly text but if they get picked up from school every single day there is no reason to have one.

(23) albert, December 8, 2011 3:37 AM

DIAL 911 for emergency

Cell phones are available that are set to dial 911, but not anything else. As long as a child understands what is an emergency, and how to use a phone, I would want him or her to have one. And I would want the child to have it with him or her in class.

(22) Jennifer, December 8, 2011 1:59 AM

One thing you're not considering

All cellphones are not created equal. I am a parent and carry a cellphone, but it has no text or data plan (cannot access the internet). My children have the same thing. A simple phone that can only be used for (shock!) making and receiving calls can be seen as a source of protection. Of course the parents can monitor the bill and see if the child is using it at inappropriate or extended times. When used as a source to phone parents or others ("Mom isn't here to pick me up after school, Dad."), a cellphone even for a young child can be prudent. However, with texting and using data plans, I'm with you, Rabbi. No young child needs a free rein for the internet.

(21) richard, December 7, 2011 10:59 PM

The most sensible thing I've heard this year!

Absolutely right! All of your comments and observations are down to earth, realistic and sensible. This particular point, however, is unlikely to be heard by the parents who should be doing something about it. I supply transportation for people and I am appalled sometimes when a bunch of 11-12 year olds board my bus and settle down to spend the whole journey looking at their hand held devices, sending messages or occupying themselves with interactive games etc to the complete exclusion of any REAL communication with the REAL people who are sharing their company. Come on everyone! Let's be REAL and remember that our fellow human beings EXIST and should be taken notice of, not plug our lives and those of our children into electronic virtual existence! Years ago I saw Superman comics in which Zombies appeared. They were look alikes of real people but devoid of any reality. Unfortunately the world has now become very much like that!

(20) Anonymous, December 7, 2011 9:39 PM

Cell Phone Use Alert Issued by Head of University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies. The developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields. see entire report here: http://www.mirm.pitt.edu/news/article.asp?qEmpID=333

(19) asher, December 7, 2011 9:37 PM

cell phones are needed...

Dear Reb Yaakov, I agree that the cell phones have gotten into the hands of very young children and it is a problem since many kids see their friends with one and they immediately become iratic and demand that they get one as well. Of course that is not enough of a reason to give your child of 6, 8 or 10 years old a cell phone. However the schools today give out MTA Bus passes to children that are 11 and 12 years old as the City of NY Pupil Transportation wants the 7th and 8th Graders to use public transportation. Years ago we had no problem doing just that and getting on a bus or train to and from school, bu tin todays day and age and it gets very dark out at 4:00 PM when the kids start leavin gschool that parents want that extra security blanket (if I may use such a term) in order to be able to call their kids at anytime while traveling home to find out where they are or to detour them and have them pick somethin gup from the store or just to say "I will pick you up at the train station" , etc. I know a family who had used an extra three "Emergency Phones" in the home and each time the kids were going to be at a friends house or was asked to go shopping , etc the emergncy phones were used. That was a way of knowing where your kids are.Years ago it was the beepers and now it is the cell phones. I just wish people would learn how to turn them off at a Funeral, and in a Synagogue, etc

(18) Uriela, December 7, 2011 5:16 PM

Cell Phone does not equal Internet

I own a cell phone which has no Internet access. Why do you assume that every cell phone is an access point to evil? I would not send a child on a public bus, no matter the age, without one. This is basic safety in today's world. Sorry Rabbi, you do not know what you are talking about and Leiby Klesky is a case in point.

(17) Anonymous, December 7, 2011 4:42 PM

no child should have one

Not only are there all the obvious moral dangers what about radiation? There are so many studies out there proving the physical dangers that the cell phone pose to young people. In my home no one can have a cell phone unless they have a way to pay the monthly bill, which is usually when they are in the army.

(16) Andy, December 7, 2011 4:18 PM

Disagree with your point

Grade 8 is after the Bar or bat mitzvahs. The boy is considered an adult and so is the girl. If the child has been brought up with values than he or she knows what can be done with the phone. Also the point of safety I want to know that my grandchild is capable to call if he or she is in trouble and needs my help This is just an opinion Rabbi Thanks for reading

(15) Anonymous, December 7, 2011 4:10 PM

limiting cell phones

As a frum family in Israel, my 16 yr old daughter has a kosher phone. She does most of the shopping so we can speak as needed. I have one other kosher one for the teenage boys to take with them on trips so they can contact me if there is a problem. The best thing about the no texting feature is that we don't get junk mail or "free" offers. It is just a phone and calculator. The alarm and day planner do not sync up to a laptop or workstation. Though I do wish I could talk to my phone and have it remember my grocery list for me!

(14) Anonymous, December 7, 2011 4:08 PM

I agree that it is best not to give your child a cell phone until the child actually needs it for safety reasons. Our son is 17, and we didn't give him his own phone until a couple of years ago when he started going more regularly on overnight trips for regional orchestra, 3-day science fair and other scholastic team weekends several hours from home, and such, and overnight music camps where he was able to call home. We wanted him to be able to let us know he arrived safely and to be able to easily call us or the directors of those programs if necessary. Now, our daughter, age 12, asks us for a phone every few months. We have told her that she doesn't need it yet. Occasionally, she needs to call us to tell us to pick her up from school early if after-school orchestra is canceled at the last minute - but she is able to call from the school office. If she may need to call us to let us know that there is a change of time to pick her up from a Bar/Bat Mitzvah party, I lend her my cell phone, and we make sure to be available at our home phone or by my husband's cell phone. It is true that most of her friends have a cell phone already, and even my daughter says that it is ridiculous that these children waste a lot of time texting. We will know the right time to give her a phone, and I do not anticipate it being for at least 2-3 years. So many parents give their children cell phones only because "everybody" else has them. That is a big mistake.

(13) Rabbi Jeffery Feinstein, December 7, 2011 3:51 PM

Cell Phones for Children

I just returned from a 5-week cruise as the rabbi on board and was separated from my cell phone. What a joy. In this modern age we seem to crave immediacy in everything. I wonder how I ever survived my childhood without a cell phone. Children need to develop face-to-face communication skills and cell phones are destroying or preventing this capability. What is the appropriate age? When a child or adult can afford to purchase the instrument and pay for the monthly usage. Perhaps by this time they will have the sechel to understand and appreciate its use.

(12) Dori, December 7, 2011 3:17 PM

It depends

I had to look up "8th Grade", to find out the age range meant (hint: don't assume all readers are intimately familiar with US mores). So now I know it is 13 to 14. I don't know from what environment Rabbi Salomon comes, but there is obviously (to me, anyway), no single answer. I gave my son a basic mobile phone for his 11th birthday. Most of the children in his class already had one, but the decider for me was that we could communicate in an 'emergency', even if only to help find each other in a crowded place, or to say somebody was late (once one of the top reasons for making a mobile call). He still has this basic phone 3 years later. Not so long ago he started talking about buying a fancy smartphone with his barmitzvah money. I asked him to consider whether he would really use the fancy features and be prepared to buy himself a data subscription (as I was only paying for a pay-as-you-go phone call card). His enthusiasm waned until his phone developed a fault. Now he may just get a non-smartphone... My biggest worry was/is that he would be mugged (attached by petty thieves, usually quite young thugs) on the street and have his phone stolen, but so far, thank God, this has not happened. Another reasons for sticking to cheap basic phones... I do not approve of very young children having phones (nothing to do with health reasons, which are unproven) and so I held out until he was 11. Most already had phones at age 10.

(11) Anonymous, December 7, 2011 3:15 PM

Individuals

This choice should be based on your child's individual needs. Leiby might have been saved,...I have an 8 year old and he got a cell phone last year,..Why? Mainly emergencies. He can call or text only, no web access or any other options. He is not allowed to have it on in school and it must stay in his back pack there. It only takes one mistake like Leiby and that's it. What if G-d forbid we are driving and I get knocked out in an accident, say I hit a pole or hydroplaned and lost control. My son can call 911 and his mom immediately. If it was up to me I would install a satellite tracking device under his skin until he turned 18.

Rachel, December 7, 2011 4:41 PM

I agree -- it's a matter of safety

When I was 14, a classmate's 17-year-old sister, walking home from the school bus stop, was abducted and murdered. I was in no rush to give my children I-pods, Gameboys, etc -- but a cellphone was, from my perspective, a tool to keep them safe. They were told they could only use it to call 911 or to call us, and that's what they did.

(10) Shan, December 7, 2011 7:34 AM

Dont just say "no"- Attitude is what matters!

as a college teen with a smartphone (welcome to 2011)..i still agree- that IS pretty young to have a cell phone, unless it is needed- just a phone with NOTHINg on it but phone calls(for kids who commute to school...and it should be clear that it goes away during schooltime and family time!) High school isnt an ideal age either, but highschoolers are a bit more mature. It can be a tough battle with children though. in some societies it is more possible to keep phones away-when that society changes the trend. once most 8th graders in a certain circle dont have cell phones, your child might beg for one, but wont feel like he or she is missing out- after all, who will they text, anyways. in some circles this works, till a certain age. another way to handle it would be if kosher phones made "competing" phones- a nicer looking phone, or a keyboard phone with texting but no internet access- a "cooler" kosher phone! many cell phone companies offer nice models ONLY with internet access- i think that is rediculous, but go check out some co's.... which makes the problem of children having cell phones pale in comparison to the new issue of constant internet access. i know that k-9, a nonjewish filter company offers filters on some cell phones, but not all. this is not a complete solution, but somewhat helpful, even for adults who end up having smartphone(with internet) for business, etc. times are changing fast, and i see younger and younger children having fully loaded cellphones, more and more. kind of scary actually... and ive seen some who feel deprived pay for it with their very own money... therefore, just saying "no" to cellphones may only work until a certain age- which keeps on getting younger. instead, there has to be things to counteract it- positive things, and influences. it is the ATTITUDE that matters! Children are influenced by friends, but also by their parents attitudes. if a parent is on their cell phone all day, obviously their children will value it!

(9) Neta, December 5, 2011 5:31 PM

Why do we need them?

Kids know what is going on, but they do not have the wisdom, yet, to handle the tools given to them. Try giving a 12 year old one of those plain cell phones and see what he says. Most likely he will want a smart phone; otherwise, his friends will make fun of him. Children know the what, the how, when it comes to cell phones, but they have a hard time discussing the "why". Why do they need cell phones? The want was created by the industry and it has become a need. Cell phone industry is spending money in research to fend off criticism that cell phone radiation is unhealthy. Their research shows 28% negative results while objective testing shows 67% bioeffect. That is cause for alarm regardless if one is in 8th grade or if one is 65 years of age. There is evidence to suggest that children using cell phones are more likely to develop serious health problems but the evidence is not causal. It was enough for France to ban cell phone advertising for children under the age of 12 back in 2008. I do think that the very idea of this technology needs to be examined and not just for children. It is so intrusive. I do not know what some people would do with themselves without these gadgets. Wherever people are gathered this little gadget is in their palms. It might as well be their ear and eyes. They cannot be without it even though they are in the company of others. I think it is rude but obviously I am the exception. We are not talking about people waiting to sell that million dollar stock. We are talking about a "twit". Maybe this subject is far more important than we think. Maybe this technology is changing our form of interacting and thinking.

(8) Anonymous, December 5, 2011 9:03 AM

I wholeheartly agree with Rabbi Salomon's opinion

I didn't get a cellphone till after high school. I don't think its necessary for children under the age of 18 to posses a cellphone. Even adults abuse that privilege. I seldom use my phone. I only have it for emergencies or if people need to reach me since I don't have a land-line yet.Thankfully, my phone bill has been consistently low as a result.But yes, most children are not responsible enough to have a cellphone. People managed to communicate and get by before the era of cellphones. Now most people can't imagine life without them.

(7) Anonymous, December 5, 2011 2:37 AM

I feel that as soon as they need the cell phone and are appropriate, then it is appropriate. If they are commuting long distances for high school or going to school out of state, then I feel it is all right. But I agree that when children get them at such a young age, it is not appropriate and not at all necessary. Also, for any child or teen, internet I feel should not be accessible even if they are responsible.

(6) TMay, December 5, 2011 2:19 AM

Leiby

I don't see a problem. Mothers used to be at home. Now they work. It lets a child be in contact with a parent and it lets a parent be in touch with a child. If Leiby Kletzky had had one maybe he would be alive today. He could have called or texted that he was lost or they could have used the signal to trace him, or maybe his mother could have called him, or considering how good kids are with technology or maybe he could have looked up a map, or had GPS instructions. Granted no one was expecting what he came across.

(5) Anonymous, December 4, 2011 8:53 PM

Cell Phone Use

I think that 8th graders using cell phones is ok, but once they graduate. What I don't think is ok are children younger having cellphones. Constantly I hear and see children who are in 5th grade or even 2nd grade with them. What are those parents thinking?!

(4) Chavi, December 4, 2011 5:49 PM

As a member in good standing of the Old Fogies' Club, I finally got a cell phone only 4 years ago. It stays turned off in its box most of the time, and is taken out only for emergency use. I worry about my brain's exposure to the radiation emitted from cell phones, which have not been around long enough for there to be any available data on the long-range effects of that radiation, and we know that young brains are much more susceptible to radiation damage. Maturity is not even an issue, since even mature adults use their cell phones irresponsibly, talking and texting while driving, while pushing their baby strollers into oncoming traffic, etc., and generally annoying the people around them who are not remotely interested in the intimate details of their personal lives. I suggest having one family cell phone that a child may use on a for-need basis, but which resides in the home.

(3) Ann, December 4, 2011 3:18 PM

Cell phones have become addictive..

I work in an elementary school and teachers everyday take a cell phone away from a student who was texting in class.!It's unnecessary.If I child needs to call a parent they can use the school phone. I agree with you.They can have a phone when they can pay the bill.A cell phone is useful if your traveling alone and have a problem.When I was a kid you made plans with a friend and you were able to meet up on time.It did not require three cell phone calls.Think about it.At school and at my mahjongg group all the women have their cell phones on the table. Something to think about as you always say....

(2) Rosen, December 4, 2011 1:51 PM

the youth generation - post-1980

I'm 30 years old, and part of that youth generation as I am one of the older millenials. I didn't get a cell phone until my 21st birthday in 2002. Before that, I often used a landline phone or payphone. When I was younger in the 1990's, my parents had blockier cell phones that they would sometimes let me use - long before texting and websurfing on a cell phone was trendy...As for an appropriate age, it really all depends on individual maturity since not everyone matures at the same age...At one of my 2 PT jobs, cell phone use during work has been banned, because someone who I work with was using his cell phone and got filmed by a concerned parent as he was operating the carousel while he was either texting or web surfing on his cell phone, barely looking up at the carousel for which he was supposed to be watching. I can admit I had problems in the past with cell phone use on the job as well as making rather unnecessary contacts to my boss. So lately, when I'm working at this PT job, I try to leave my cell phone in my car or at home, or some place off my person. When I've recently had my cell phone on me while I am working, I simply pick up the phone and say "can't talk - working" and hang up after about 3 seconds. All in all, I've learned a lot about cell phone etiquette over the years both on the job and elsewhere.

(1) Anon, December 4, 2011 7:42 AM

Use school phone

I agree that 8th grade is too young. If a child should need to contact a parent/guardian, they should be able to use a pay phone or school phone. I know I had those kind of situations when I was in school. If it would be for emergencies only, I can understand that for that age, but there should be cretain measures taken, like no internet access, and only certain numbers able to be dialed, like parent and grandparents' number and police, if that is possible. That is what would be close to ideal, I think.

 

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