One parent always has to ruin it. This is something I regularly hear from parents of grade school kids. It couldn’t be more true when it comes to cell phones.
Susie’s mom bought Susie a cell phone and now all your kids want one. Susie’s mom sucks. We all know this. Now you have to go get some expensive family plan because your kids will suck up all the data, not to mention the activation costs, and did I mention the cost of the phone? Of course you worry your kids will be able to call or text you anytime, but don’t worry, they don’t want to talk to you.
So what’s the right age to buy your kid a cell phone? 5th grade? 7th grade? High school? Never?
Might I suggest 2.5 years old? This sounds crazy, but hear me out. I have a few reasons why this makes complete sense.
- Avoid the blacklist. Personally, I have no problem with my kids having cell phones and I’ll probably screw up and be the first parent to crack. I don’t really want to make enemies with the other parents. These are going to be the people I drop my kids off at sleepovers with. Alienate them and no sleepovers, which means no free nights ever. So if the cell phones predate these school relationships, no one can be mad.
- Reduce the appeal. Start a kid on a cell phone before age 3 and cell phones are bound to lose their luster, right? I mean, it’s not like adults are glued to their phones all day. By the time they’re 6, they’ll be begging to put down their phones and play outside. This sounds like perfect parenting to me.
- Make a difference. Most people don’t make it until their late 20’s or even 30’s, but your kid will have a head start on becoming the youngest Farm Hero ever. The world could always use more Farm Heroes. Better to train them early.
- Provide educational reinforcement. Your kids are still not terribly coherent at this age, so a cell phone will aid in their educational development. I highly recommend downloading the New York Times Crossword and CNN apps. By the age of 4, you can expect them to be fluent in multiple languages and leading a start-up tech company. Not to mention, your kids probably already know how to use a phone better than you do.
I could not think of a reason not to, so I decided to buy my twin toddler daughters each a cell phone. I was between the Galaxy and the new iPhone, but ultimately, I didn’t want to buy a $1,000 candy-crushing paperweight. So two brand new Galaxies it is for kids that I can only understand probably 40% of the time they open their mouths. Of course I put them on the Unlimited Data plan, but that’s mostly so I can make bad dad jokes like Unlimited Dadda and embarrass them.
So what was the end result? Well, now they use terms like YOLO and “I’m dying.” Imagine the panic only to find out that dying means laughing. Even so, at least I can understand those. That 40% has dropped to about 5%, since I don’t really know what lit, on fleek, or hundo P mean. To say the least, this experiment has been a total disaster. I wrote this at 8:45 AM and I’ve already gotten 75 phone calls and 132 text messages just today. This group message below probably best sums up how little my kids have learned. I can say with hundo P confidence don’t get cell phones for toddlers. It will only end in regret.