CrackBerry asks: What is an appropriate age for children to get their first smartphone?

By Michelle Haag on 15 Nov 2011 02:57 pm EST
BlackBerry smartphones and tablet

A recent study conducted by SodaHead revealed that most people feel kids shouldn't get their first smartphone or tablet until at least 16 years of age, though regular cellphones or feature phones are ok for the younger crowd. Interestingly enough, it wasn't just adults that felt that way; teens surveyed shared that opinion. A Mediamark survey in 2009 showed that more than a third of 10-11 year olds had cell phones already. Our oldest son is almost 11, and he's been asking for a phone (specifically a BlackBerry, shocker) for a couple of years now, but I've been putting him off until it's more of a necessity, not just a luxury.

We want to know, CrackBerry nation: At what age do you think a child/teenager should get their first smartphone? Vote in the poll above, and drop your comments below. The full infographic from SodaHead has some other interesting info, which you can check out at the source link below.

Source: SodaHead

Michelle Haag Michelle Haag "@_Miche11e_ and C0001B3B5" 1214 (articles) 1695 (forum posts)

Reader comments

CrackBerry asks: What is an appropriate age for children to get their first smartphone?


Having a cell phone is not a "thing" anymore. Its standard.

A smartphone is pretty normal and I think age 10 and up is appropriate (with some restrictions of course)

Paying the Bill themsevles I disagree with

Having to Justify the transactions on the Bill every month YES I would agree with,
I'd give a 10 year old a phone, once they start doing school sports, it's time for a cellphone, That's about Grade 4-6 I'd say

Having a cell phone is a privilege and luxury, not a "right" or standard by any definition.

This may vary by upbringing etc. But I got my first cell phone in grade 11. I was about 16 and had just gotten my driver's license.

This is where I would draw the line. By the time your kids have the ability to go places by driving themselves or have a job etc.

Otherwise, you risk getting them dependent on social networks, twittering far too early. Haven't you noticed how socially awkward and withdrawn kids are now? They have zero people skills. What 13 year old needs a smartphone etc. It's the same with laptops. Most kids nowdays do not even know how to write print or cursive legibly and yet I see parent's buying netbooks for their 8 year old kids.

Search the internet, many stories about how cell phones have saved children from harm! Today's day and age has changed and looking back at what we had and when we first received our first "_________" is a thing in the past. My 4 yr old child in daycare has 2 computers in their room. She has a computer and a tablet of her own (mostly w/educational games/apps). 6 yrs ago, my co-worker's 5th grade son was learning HTML in class. What does that tell you...? Just say'n

Both my daughters got theirs when they were 10. They are involved in a lot of extra curricular things in school and it's how we communicated. There are no pay phones anymore and it was a way to teach them how to be responsible for something. It wasn't until they turned 12 that they got the "unimited plans" . We no longer have a land line so it's the only way to go!

Yup, I hear ya.

My wife and I got Storms almost two years ago, and my carrier allowed me to pull a switcheroo and moved my phone number to a new plan earlier this year (so I could get a new Torch), and I moved my old Storm to a minimal smartphone plan so my 11 year old daughter could have it.

BBM groups are an outstanding way to coordinate family stuff, and my kid has shown herself to be genuinely responsible enough to handle it. It's been a lifesaver.

Pole sub Questions

Are you Over 18?
Do you have Kids?
What Age did you get your First cellphone

I'm sure the 40ish crowd and the 20ish crowd will greatly disagree on this poll

You might be surprised. Myself, I'm thinking it's the 20-somethings who'd say NO FREAKIN' WAY SHOULD A 12-YEAR-OLD have a smartphone.

Those of us 40-somethings who have kids that age and need help wrangling them consider them a blessing.

I am actually agreeing with you here,

I didn't skew my self to either way, but I very much see the 40ish group who easily can afford to pick up the bill for a 12 year old's phone and can see the advantages of having the smartphone in their kids hands, are the ones clicking 10-12, but the 20ish with no kids, rarely has had to think of anyone but themselves wouldn't be thinking of how it could help their abilities to manage their children

Did you check out the infographic I linked to? Was some interesting additional info in there as well.

Personally, I'm in-between that 20-ish and 40-ish crowd (lol) and have 2 kids. I got my first cellphone when I was... 22? Somewhere around there.

Another aspect I think is if you're giving a 10 year old a cell phone that they carry around constantly (you know, like CrackBerry addicts lol) or if they only have it when they're doing extra-curriculars or home alone.  I'd say I would be more comfortable with the latter than the former.

I did Not look at that Infographic before.

if 35% said not till you are 16, then 65% of Married people said younger ages based on that info.

I really would prefer age demographics in conjunction with being a parent, but I'm over picky hahaha

I'll give my Kids cellphones as soon as contacting them gets to be a challenge without them having them, those cellphones will have GPS, and will have the ability to take pictures, I'll also probably end up getting a hosted BES service so I can control their phones

Thats actually kind of smart.. I like the idea of BES... especially that there is BES express now, its definitely cheaper to do. I just dont know if I would know how to do that though

The one thing to point out. When I was 10 cell phones didn't exist. When I was 12 they were like $7,000 to buy and hundreds of dollars per month. People would be insane to give a 12 year old a cell phone in 1985.

Today is different, a 10 year old with a basic feature phone is OK in my opinion. I am against a smartphone at 10.

Myself in mid 40ish, gave the first cell phone to kiddo when he was 8 y.o. Kiddo, 14 now, on his third phone - some Samsung, later Motorola Razr, and few weeks ago gave him 9300. Phones was NOT replaced because broke or so - just believe kids should "follow" the tech as well.

Actually I believe kids can (should) get their first smartphone after 10. In our case we had "dispute" with better-half on the subject, due to it, after kiddo turned 14 got his Berry. The wife only argument was he will broke it, and it is expensive ... - well, "history" proves he didn't.

I see kids becoming much more responsible when trusted and treated as equals. The fact is he only once got over his "limit", and btw it was not calls or SMS, but downloading songs on the phone. We had a (man-to-man) chat, and that was it - no more over bills.

On the Smartphone subject - its not a luxury but a communication tool and beyond. Kids should learn how to use them, and learning-by-doing is the best approach you can follow, I believe. Kiddo having this tool in hands, we have an "agreement" when finishing school calls or texts me, and keeps in touch all the time - something I really appreciate as parent. Smartphone used for being-in-touch, listening music, google maps, google translate on the go, ... oh, and what i really love making pictures and short videos and sharing them with parents. Lot of fun :D

There is absolutely no reason someone under the age of 18 needs a smartphone. I'm 26 and didn't get my first smartphone until I was in my first year of grad school at age 22. A cell phone, I can deal with from age 12 and up, but no smartphone until at least college. And then, at least for me, it needs to be an earned thing. To answer the questions stated, I'm 26, no kids, and got my first cell phone at 17 (60 minutes a month, used only for emergencies).

whats so special about a smartphone though? The data plan?

I didn't get my first cell phone till 17 and it was prepaid. But that's because cell phones were just becoming popular and mainstream lol!

Data plan, yes, but have you seen some of the apps out there? A lot of the online dating apps would make it 10x easier for predators to find these children. And you said it. What is so special about smartphones? These days, a regular phone can do most everything a smartphone can do. "But Dad, I NEED an MP3 player on my phone", well, most regular phones have them these days. "But Dad, I NEED a web browser on my phone". Ditto.

There's no reason to have a smartphone when a regular phone will do the trick.

So you are 26, with No kids, there for you know what it is like to raise kids and keep intouch with them?

I didn't have a Cellphone when I was 12, what I did have was a Roll of quarters every week so I could call when I was going to be late, so I could call to get picked up from various sporting events, so I could call in case of an emergency.

Today Try and find working Payphones, they are fewer and further between even in the school system, I lend my cellphone to high school kids who need to call home because the tournament ran past 6pm so they wont be home before 8pm.

With Smartphones you're just teaching them how to keep a digital organizer, you can assign them an email address, let them be responsible, you get to take the phone away if they are not responsible, it is a tool, and a dang useful one

no kids, but it doesn't take a genius to know that times have changed.

During my early years of school, there were soooo many times having a cell phone would have come in handy.

Notice, I didn't say no cell phone. Reading comprehension is key. I said no smart phone! Most regular cell phones have digital organizers built in these days, so you're teaching them responsibility that way too.

I could understand a 10yr old not getting an iPhone or fancy Android because of theft and replacement costs, but what about a used Blackberry?

Just because a Blackberry is considered a smartphone they shouldn't have it?

I just don't understand the reasoning of why a having a "smart" phone is a big deal, that's all.

I have reading comprehension the value of a Smartphone greatly out weighs the value of a dumbphone,

AND smartphones are far more regularly available, I don't know a dumbphone with a tracking ability, and a 10 yearold if far more likely to forget their phone than a 18 year old, knowing if it is at school, on the bus, or in their room makes a smartphone a much better investment, plus there is the handme down value to having smartphones across the family

Calm down lol, I wasn't asking you specifically. I'm asking in general to this poll as to why having a smartphone is considered a big deal. Geez!

My cousin is 16 and just start college, so which is it, he can't have one because he is not 18 or that he can because he is in college? Does age really matter? Age is just a number, maturity is really a much more important measure is it not? My daughter who is 5 (yes 5) has a Blackberry(Storm 1) she carries with her when she leaves the house. I have the FDN list configured and she knows never to give out the phone number to anyone. She knows how to unlock it to make calls, send text and email, and it is configured to block websites I don't want her to go to. Blackberry world is configured on the phone but she doesn't know the password to make any purchases, if she wants an app she has to ask me. As she gets older I will loosen the restriction on her usage of it, but her learning will prepare her for using it later when she really needs it. When my 3 year old turns 5 I will most likely give him a Blackberry as well. Personally I don't see much difference between a regular old cellphone and a smartphone anymore, they can all send and receive calls, texts, emails, and can run apps, except smartphones can be locked down a little better with the right software.

I can't see any justification for a child having a smartphone. A dumbphone will serve the purpose of communication between parent and child. Let them have a smartphone when they can afford it themselves.

BUT With a BlackBerry in the hand of the child we could use BBM, they can PROVE where they are by sending a picture, the phone can have a GPS locator,

I for one would be buying a smartphone for the child ( or handing down one of my own) before going out and buying a dumb phone,

When they can afford to buy one themselves, otherwise they get a nice Zak Morris phone if they are my kid

I think that it should be determined on a case by case and child by child basis. My daughter got her first phone when she was in 6th grade, after we disconnected the land line. Later text messaging was added, and then taken away for a while. She wasn't allowed a smart phone until age 13. I got both her and my wife on BlackBerry after several feature phones developed software glitches and had to be replaced. At least with a smart phone one has the option of re-loading/upgrading the OS.

My son is 12 and he has just a regular touchscreen cell phone. No smartphone. He wants one very badly and wants a bb to boot. I dont think its necessary for him to have at his age. What use will it do him? There is nothing he would be able to do on a smartphone that he cant do now on his phone. He has now broken this phone twice since the end of August. Once was his fault, once was his mothers, but regardless, I still had to replace it. Its the only way I get to talk to him on a regular basis. I just dont see the need for a 12 yr old to carry around a $300+ device in his pocket.

My daughter was very responsible and got her first Cell at 9. 2 years later still looks new. She is set up for My 5 calling and text. My 3 teen step kids all have pay as you go with texting only (my 5 calling in summer). Great way to stay in touch and also a great thing to take away when they are bad! I would not put any teen on my plan. They don't see consequences like the younger ones do;) I am looking at BBs for the teens but again only on Pay as you go.

I'd say at 5 years and get them the most expensive smartphone along with the most expensive data plan xD

My son will have a cell phone as soon as he starts school, and it will be an iPhone so I can track him and he can text me or call when he needs to.

It wasn't in the choices, but i say "When they get their own JOB, LOL." That didn't matter to my wife tho. Our son got his first phone at 8, Samsung Instinct! I washed his phone, (It Still Worked too!!!!) Gee thx DAD! LOL! Anywho, my wife handed down her curve to him and she got the IP4. 11 or 12 is a good age. Kids these days go to school and come home. If you're not a responsible parent to make sure you kids get on and off the bus or to and from school then there is an issue. Society all to often takes the easy way out. Tracking only works if the phone is on, so that not a reason to give them one.

Much as I think children should not have cell phones before age 14 or so, my vote goes to age 10. Parental control of an appropriate smartphone like a BlackBerry is a good thing in terms of knowing what a child is doing with his/her life. In our world today it is not enough to trust the child. One must always be on alert for the friends and others who enter the child's life. Monitoring a cell phone for a youngster manages that well enough for my tastes.

I'm a teenager and i currently have a smartphone and I've had one since i was 13, I think getting a smartphone at that age is a necessity, that way you can do everything you need without lugging around a computer. It's especially good if your involved with extra curricular activities the calender apps help your organize things and plan out your week plus it helps with homework when you don't have access to a computer, i once typed a whole essay on my iPhone when my computer broke it saved me from getting an F on the assignment, I believe parents should seriously consider getting their children a smartphone once they turn 13.

I think that it should be determined on a case by case and child by child basis. My daughter got her first phone when she was in 6th grade, after we disconnected the land line. Later text messaging was added, and then taken away for a while. She wasn't allowed a smart phone until age 13. I got both her and my wife on BlackBerry after several feature phones developed software glitches and had to be replaced. At least with a smart phone one has the option of re-loading/upgrading the OS.

My son got his first cell phone (not smart phone) at about age 12 when he started mountain biking and going off on his own. I got it for safety only. He has an ipod for music, hotmail, facebook, etc which generally stays at home. With both those devices he really doesn't need a smart phone. I think most smart phones are too big for kids to carry around doing sports, whereas a pocket size cell is perfect.

Personally, I didn't get my first smartphone until I was 20 (and even then I didn't get the data plan until a year later; it's nice having Wi-Fi on campus where I spend 99% of my time and this was before mandatory data plans from carriers).

My first cell phone wasn't until I was 16 and needed one as I was going away for schooling.

As a disclaimer, I'm currently 23 and have no kids.

That being said:

Understandably the use of computers and social media in the world and even in the classroom is completely different now than it was when I was in high school (a mere 9 years ago).

That being said, I really don't see the need for a smartphone before college. The primary reason is theoretically in high school, you are in class the majority of your day; you shouldn't have the opportunity to check/send emails or update your Facebook/Twitter status. In fact, your free times are really between classes (<5 minutes typically) and lunch (in which in my opinion should be used for face to face conversations, but maybe I'm old-school).

After school, granted there is extra-circulars and sports, but again, you should be actively participating in these activities.

Further, some schools are providing students with iPads/laptops for in-class use, so any excuse of needing a smartphone to keep up with school email is moot with these devices at your disposal.

So I ask what is the purpose of a smartphone before college? You have very limited time throughout the day to use your cellphone in general, and any tiny benefits of email and the like are most likely solved with the use of school-provided computers/tablets.

That being said, the argument becomes a bit different when it comes to the age for your first cellphone, which is a completely separate topic.

As of now, I see no point of a child before middle school (so age 12 or so) having a cell phone. I guess perhaps because other than school or birthday parties, your child theoretically will be with you. If they need to contact you at one of these few outside events with adult supervision (I'd assume), I'd hope the supervisor/adult/teacher would be more than willing to lend their cell phone to your child.

When it comes to middle school and high school, I can start to see the possibility for one, especially if your kids are in after school activities or sports (and traveling associated with such). I remember a few times where things were rescheduled without warning or went later than usual; being able to call my parents and let them know so they could pick me up at the appropriate time would have been nice. But yet, you're still in a location with adult supervision, so again, borrowing a cell phone to place a call shouldn't be an issue.

I guess what I see is that even up through high school, a child is surrounded by adult supervision if they are not with you and the biggest factor would be embarrassment of having to ask to borrow a cell phone; now I would think "big deal, suck it up," but remembering back to my teenage years, I can see where this could be problematic.

So I'm split to be honest. I do think 16 is a good starting age: having the ability to drive carries responsibilities; one where having a cell phone in case of emergency is a good thing. Of course, I think ensuring your child is responsible enough to have a cell phone and be allowed to drive (and not texting while driving, etc) is something to consider on a case-by-case basis (but I'm rambling here).

It's an interesting question to be sure...

I agree with all your points (I am 24). I didn't get a cell phone until I was around that age too, and didn't get a smart phone until after college. And this makes total sense: "So I ask what is the purpose of a smartphone before college? You have very limited time throughout the day to use your cellphone in general, and any tiny benefits of email and the like are most likely solved with the use of school-provided computers/tablets."

I got a smartphone about a year after I graduated college (I graduated in 2009). Before then I had a "dumb phone"...and back then (it makes me wince to say "back then") most of the people I knew did as well. On campus there were a handful of BlackBerrys, mostly carried by sorority girls. I got a cell phone when I was in high school right after 9/11 happened. I think people here are getting confused with "cell phone" and "smart phone". I do think, absolutely, a cell phone (a basic one that can make calls (lol) and text is pretty much necessary in this day and age. I think once a kid hits middle school or around then is a good time to get a "cell phone"...a smart phone? I don't think so. It really depends on what you will use it for. I got by just fine with a dumb phone in college because it did everything I needed it to (same thing with most of my friends). I think now people think they need a smart phone because they are getting more and more common, but in reality someone who's in middle school only really needs to talk and text...they don't need to be tweeting or Facebooking or what not. I honestly think though that a smart phone can wait until after high school. I functioned just fine...and really, times haven't changed that much between then and now ;-)

good points.

Now that i think about it, I didnt get a smartphone until my senior year of college, but thats only because they were just becoming popular.( i feel old now lol)

But with technology today it would be helpful for a kid to have an advanced phone with GPS capabilities (in case they get lost) and cheaper messaging options (BBM or iMessage).

My daughter was 8 and my son was 10 when they got their first Blackberry. They have done just fine with them and have had them for 2 years now.

I'm curious...what does an 8-year old do, exactly, on a BlackBerry that she can't do on a regular cell phone?

I have no kids of my own. But if I did, I would have no problems giving a 10 year old a basic phone, definitely on pay-as-you-go. Kids these days know how to operate some of the toys better than the parents do. Depending on the child, and taking into consideration factors such as level of maturity, somewhere between the ages of 14 and 16 could warrant a smart phone, definitely on pay-as-you-go.... after that, I would assume a child (although not much of a child anymore) should be responsible enough to decide what to do with their phone.

I also want to add that the smart phones my daughters have are what they use for music (DO NOT have an iPod) what they use for e-mail, what they use for an alarm clock what they use for a radio..etc..etc.... I think that if they are used to the full potential they are a "smart" choice for teenagers. They do complain that they want the newest thing (which seems to come out every other week) and I tell them when they can pay for it they can get it....Also, when they get their first job they will be responsible for their portion of the plan. If you are an active family there is no other way to go.....After school activities start WAY sooner than what they did when I was in school (in the 80's)...........

My time is the start of Middle school, so around the late 10 to early 11 age. They start going to do more things with friends and if I'm going to get them a phone, then why not a Blackberry Curve as they are fairly inexpensive on contract. I like to keep in touch with the kids via BBM when I have to travel for business. My 16 year old and 13 year old just got their second Curves when I switched carriers. Actually the new BBX phone will be coming out about the time my 10 year old starts middle school, so maybe I give my bold to my 17 year old, give his curve to his brother, and use the new line for BBX..... MUHAHAHA! Or I get him a curve touch and be done with it.

I am 26 with no kids, but I do believe that as long as they are responsible then age shouldnt matter. If I had a 10 year old daughter/son I would get them a smartphone without questions- they want an MP3 player, alarm clock, ect, why not get them one device that has it all. I have a cousin that is 13 and she has an iPhone (both her parents have iPhones as well and are always asking her how to do this or that on it). I always remeber having a cell phone when i was younger so i was able to call my parents/friends/siblings and let them know when I needed a ride or what my school activites were.. Smartphones are a neccesity these days and allow for better family communication- Get your 10 year old son/daughter a bb and come to terms that no one use a landline anymore.

Honestly it varies by child. My daughter just got her first smartphone (age 12), but only because it cost the same as a feature phone and we didn't have to pay extra for a data plan (we're on Sprint, and this was the only smartphone that didn't require the extra $10 add-on fee for smartphones). With parental control software installed, she's kept out of things like the marketplace, so she can't just install apps that aren't age appropriate. Does she need a smartphone? No. Does she enjoy it? Yes. Can the phone be secured? Yes, more so than even the feature phone alternative. Would I pay an extra data charge for it? Not yet, anyway.

But I agree with the statement that cell phone vs smart phone are 2 different topics. The first time we had a scheduling conflict and the friend that was supposed to pick her up from an event didn't show up, and she called from the nearest gas station scared to death and crying, we went right out and bought a prepaid phone for her to carry for emergency use only. The gas station attendant was nice and let her borrow their phone - there were no pay phones anywhere around. We had no way to get back in touch with her to let her know who was going to pick her up. That scared us almost as much as it scared her!

I'd say it depends on the child (cop-out answer, I know).

If your son/daughter is 13 but involved in as many clubs/associations then by all means, let them schedule everything on a phone.

If your 12 year old want's an iPhone/Blackberry/what-have-you because the's cool or something like that, then no.

Why do they want it and what will it be used for? That's the only real question you need to ask yourself.

My daughter who is 13 has had a blackberry since she was 9. She is sporting a 9810. My son who just 9 is sporting her old 9700. My wife and I are rocking 9810's. We are a Blackberry family and use BB messenger all the time and find it very easy to schedule family events and share photos. Blackberry protect makes it very easy to locate them whenever I feel the need. I have been a blackberry user since 2005.

the only point that needs to be made is that the more users RIM acquires, the more money they will have to develop new products. If properly marketed (honestly, it wont be able to beat apple), but the new curve touch should be the first phone ever child has. a few years ago every young kid had a curve, but now they can have a combo tablet/smartphone, technically. when i have children, hopefully cellphones will be obsolete, but i will buy my child a blackerry (or whatever is "in") because i feel it is a great form of communication...and flip phones are out....

Personally, I'd say that middle school for a cell phone (extremely restricted), and smartphone when they can pay for it themselves (e.g. later high school, if they have a part-time job). I'm almost 28, and didn't get my first cell phone until my 18th birthday (and it was a POS Cingular that had about 60 minutes per month...I had gotten my driver's license and a car just a few months prior and the cell phone was to be for car emergencies only). I was on my parents' cell plan until I got married a few months after finishing college, and until then, my dad always got whatever the top of the line phone was at the time, and my stepmother, brother, and I got the freebie phones. Once I was paying for it myself, I progressed from phones with extremely rudimentary internet access to I'm on my 2nd Blackberry and can't imagine life without it.

IMO the decision should be made considering the age as well as the maturity level and amount of trust a parent has for the child. I personally wouldn't allow a child of mine to have one before 15/ that time I'd access how comfortable I am with it.

and to that poll:

I am 23 and got my first cellphone when i was 17.
I had to pay for my own bill.
Blackberries were also not "in", so it wasnt a heavy bill because i didn't have BBM or data on my flip phone...
I also got my first car at 17, and had to pay for that (and insurance and gas and maintenance), too.

I am now almost 24 and broke, figuring out how the hell i'll ever let my kids go so far down by having to pay for so much themselves. If my kid says please and thank you, they can have a cellphone...or one of my 4 old bb's haha...

I didn't read all these posts, but for my wife and myself, it wasn't a matter of our kids wanting a phone, it was a matter of us wanting them to have one. Our 1st daughter got her 1st @ 13, because a lot of her friends had one....and, she's a good kid. It was a reward. We rapidly discovered WE benefited from it as well. Our 2nd daughter got a phone @ 10. It made our life a lot easier and less stressful.

A first smartphone is like a first pocket knife or first rifle. There is no magic age. Its about the maturity of the individual kid in question. For example I have a son that just turned 9 that has a blackberry. he's had a cell phone since he was 6 and has used it responsibly. He's never lost it. He's never abused his privileges with it. Thus.. when he was 8 it was time to hand down the ol' 9700. He loves it and is even more responsible with it that his old phone.

I can now reach him, and track him, any time I want.

Is every 6 year old ready for a phone? No. Is every 9 year old ready for a blackberry? no. Are some? Yes.

Here's my personal test. If you can give your kid 20 bucks... and send him into a store by himself to get 3 specific items... and he returns with those 3 items and the correct change... then he's responsible enough for a cellphone... or his first rifle.

In these very strange and dangerous times - I think all children should have at least a basic/GPS enabled phone if for no other reason then their safety and their parents peace of mind.

As far a the "smartphone" is concerned - you left one choice off the poll - "When they can buy one".


I have a soon-to-be 11 year old daughter who has been bugging for a cell phone. She uses her ipod nano more than her older brothers, has more songs, does more on social media than them, and she's in extracurricular clubs about 4 out of 5 days each week. When she leaves school, she walks through the woods to get to our development. After clubs, the woods are more deserted, not many kids funneling home. So, my wife & I have been debating getting her a cell phone. BUT, she also wants an ipod touch and a video camera. It's getting to the point where a smartphone could fulfill all 3 needs in one device.

The only sticking point then is data plans. AT&T has a $15 data plan for 250MB. I think texting might be extra. Adding a non-smartphone line costs $9.99 and another $5 for 200 texts per month. So that's $15 there for a dumb phone. It might be the difference between $15 vs $20 per month for a smartphone (if you add in 200 texts to the smartphone data plan.)

Dude. Get her a blackberry. If nothing else it will add years to your life by reducing your after school stress wondering where or how she is.

My view is simple: when they can pay for it themselves. Once kids learn the value of a dollar, they'll learn to be responsible with it (usage, damage, etc.). The only exception to that for me would be in situations when they need to communicate with their parents (e.g. at summer camp).

As a 14 year old myself, I currently do not have a phone but I am saving up for a Bold 9900 (or wait for whatever BBX QWERTY is on the horizon). My two siblings received their first cell phones when they were about my age, so when the time came my parents agreed to purchase a smartphone if I helped subsidize the cost of the plan and the phone's price.

Having a cell phone would definitely be a help around this age, I often stay after school or come to school later on to help get ready for events, or volunteer. If something ends early or for some reason I need to get in contact with my parents, a phone would be a huge help. Regarding smartphones, I'll go out and say that I honestly don't think that it's necessary for a person of around my age. However, as a proud BB Fanboy, and somebody who could find use for a smartphone (I do a fair amount of word processing on my tablet on the go, send/receive upwards of 50 Emails a day, do quite a bit of heavy web browsing, need a USABLE day planer, the ones on the feature phones are rubbish), I can justify paying the extra 25$/month for data, and paying $100-$200 up front for the phone as opposed to settling for the free option.

IMHO a smartphone, let alone a feature phone, is unnecessary for anybody under the age of 12. I never needed one to stay in touch with my parents, I didn't go out too often, and I haven't found the need for one up to now. When parents are purchasing their children mobile phones at age 8, that's simply giving into their child's "I reeeeealy want it mommy/daddy!".

Just my two cents.

just to add Ive noticed more smartphones are coming out and less dumb phones plus ive read multiple times that eventually all there is going to be is basic basic phones and smartphones so eventually you're going to have to get your kids a smartphone.

I'm 16 and I have an 9650. I don't think kids really need to have a smart phone, especially one that's very secure(Parents proof). If they gonna get a blackberry, I think an 8700 or an 8830 is appropriate any thing else is way too much. I paid for my phone my self but don't use a data plan so my bb act lust like a regular cell, what a waste of potential

Most comments have been based on what children can or are doing rather than looking at what they cannot do or what risks are out there. As an example, my adolescent drivers were not risk takers and I did not worry about them being irresponsible with the car. What I DID worry about was situations they would have to deal with. Were they skilled enough to protect themselves from bad drivers or slick roads?

Kids are now getting unsolicited sexting messages (potential for felony charges). They are sleeping with phones and never going into REM sleep (needed for brain development) because sleep is interrupted responding to texts. Phones are being used for cheating, bullying, drug buys and parents cannot control all the risk factors. As for smart phones, the Internet is like a big city; it has everything from beneficial to dangerous. Nobody would turn a kid loose unsupervised in a city with a taxi & credit card for any amount of time.

Amount of "screen time" influences every aspect of child development and media is considered a primary socializer. There is a difference between a child "owning" a phone and being able to use a family device. Children do not need smart phones and the Internet should be turned off. Children do not need to own a phone nor should they be spending much screen time. Yet it is not only useful but adds safety for a child to be able to call from the family phone when the game is over.

Laws and social norms always lag behind technological development, so parents need to get there first. They need to have frank discussions about their values, circumstances, and educate themselves about how media relates to child development. Hopefully we will see a surge in ways parents can manage phones to both benefit & protect their children.

13-15 for a basic phone as that is when kids are trying to build a kind of independence. My sister didn't get a phone until I got her one on my family plan and she is 15 now. When she turns 16 and can get a job and wants to activate the bb service, then that is on her. I think with the cost of having the data plan, they should pay that. It isn't much but shows responsibility and starts them on the track of learning to budget and pay bills.

I think 10-12 is too young. There are people who supervise your kids at extra curricular activities that have cell phones. No reason you shouldn't have those number anyway.

I think it depends on the child and the discipline they show. A simple phone to start with at age 10 is ok. 16 is ok for more sophisticated fones! If they show discipline and maturity early then 13-14 for a smartphone is ok. I put it down to the discipline and responsibilty displayed.

My 11, 12, and 14 yr old boys all have 8530's. With gps tracking, my wife and I feel a lot safer allowing them to expand their boundaries. I don't feel smartphones are a right, necessarily, but I do find them to be very convenient. We pay only slightly more for us all to have our BB's than what we paid for AT&T's unlimited landline service....and we never have to hear fighting over phone time.

My son got BB in hands when he was 5 month old, he almost ate it, but when it was playing music it was the most adorable view. No chewing just looking at screen and listening. Go pictures and nice story behind.

My daughter is 11 and has a "dumb" phone. No need for a smartphone at this point, in my opinion. Plus, I make her pay a portion of the phone's cost from her allowance which she only gets if she does her chores. ;)

Anyone who said under 10 should be shot.

Please take those who said 10 to 12 with you as well.

13 - 16 (hey the length of a 3 year contract, what a shocker!) a regular basic cell for emergency's only.

16+ get whatever you want if you're paying for it yourself. As much as I love my blackberry, and think every adult should have one, its in no way a necessity unless you work in an industry that requires up to the minute access to email. Its a great device both for communication and fun to adults and teens alike, but there's zero reason for your parents to be paying for it for you. You don't NEED it.

My 16yr old has a Torch and my 13yr old has a curve 9300. Both started off with flip phones at 11 for security while out playing with their friends or walking home from school.
Now they're at "that age" where being disconnected from their friends for anything longer than 20 minutes is an abuse. Both are very anti Apple (thanks to my never ending rants against Mr Jobs' empire) and pro RIM..(my buy Canadian attitude has everything to do with that, lol)

Both know it's a privilage to have a berry and both have the guidence to know their chatter box limits and I think that's what it come down to in the end. As long as we the parents guide our kids properly, having a berry in their pocket (not cool to have a hip holster at 16) really shouldn't be all that surprising today.


Most parents today don't bother to take the time to teach their kids how to spell, so a phones' spell check can be a good thing (even it teaches Canadian youth to spell American rather than's certainly better than what they're not learning in school)

I got my first cell phone when I started high school because I took the train to and from school so it was a necessity to be able to contact my parents to pick me up from the station. I got my first smartphone when I went to college 2 years ago since college professors are very email-heavy in their communication with us. Obviously the push email from blackberry was the best choice :)

So I'm gonna say between 16 and 18 since I was 17 and it made sense.

I'm 13 and I got my first phone when I was 8 as I lived on an main road. I have an lg untill july this year and now I have a curve :)

I'm 27, got my first cell phone at 16 (a few months after I got my license). I didn't get a smartphone until 2 years ago. I would not get my child a smartphone before 18/college, there's just no need. If they want one, they can get a job to pay for it. As for a young child, if they are going to be gone from home, then I have no problem with them having a cheapy phone on them so I can reach them and visa versa, but it would only be used in that way until they were up in their teen years. Teens are way too dependant on cell phones and I think it's important for them to not have them and be children, not "young adults".

i think a 10 year old should get a phone. its should not be a nice one but maybe just a flip or slide phone. if they want a nice one then they should pay for it themselves. im 11 (almost 12) and my first phone was a slide phone witch i got 2 months after my 11th birthday. i now have a Z10 but i payed for it myself.