Written by Doctor G

Old Enough for a Cell Phone?

My daughter is almost 10 years old and she wants a cell phone in the worst way. She talks about it endlessly, she is certain she will die or lose all her friends if she doesn’t get one. My husband and I always thought that we wouldn’t start down this road until middle school, but she’s been pleading with us for two years already! Are we just being stubborn? Is there really any reason to not get her a cell phone now?

Lisa, in a suburb of Chicago

Be stubborn Lisa!

A cell phone is a big responsibility and an even bigger privilege. Also, there are some risks to having a phone. All that together means kids should get cell phones when they need them, not when they want them (or else my 3 year old, and most other toddlers, would for sure each have several phones by now).

Sit your daughter down and tell her the good news: you’re done saying “No!” about a cell phone. As a matter of fact you are done talking about this entirely. You and her Dad have decided that she will get a cell phone in middle school, but it is up to her whether that means sixth, seventh or eighth grade! And you’re going to write down for her what she can do to earn that cell phone in sixth grade instead of waiting until seventh or eighth.

1. Stop asking for a cell phone. When a child repeats a request more than a couple of times that has already been answered, they are showing their immaturity. Immaturity does not win phones or influence people (and it’s disrespectful).

2. Make a list of the great reasons why you need a phone. Great reasons are reasons grownups would agree she needs a phone, not kid reasons. Learning to make convincing arguments (convincing the people with the power) is a crucial skill.

3. Make a list of phone rules you will follow when you get one. Having your daughter come up with reasonable guidelines for phone use will help her start to think in a more adult way about having a phone, and also help her remember that this is not just a shiny toy but an obligation as well.

4. Start saving money. I’m pretty certain that 18 months from now, as she begins middle school, she is going to want a phone with some bells and whistles. She should be responsible for paying above the “basic” phone costs to get whatever nicer phone you agree she may have (careful with internet connections!), and to pay a portion of the bill each month.

Chances are your pronouncement is going to be met with much anger and dismay. Be strong! You are using the leverage of a cell phone to build respect and responsibility – cell phone companies should advertise that – and that is great, intentional parenting. When she pulls out more drama (“None of my friends’ parents are this mean!”) you can do what a friend of mine does; invite her to go live with them.

Stress to Resilience for Youth, Free Download Cover Mockup

Learn to Help Your Teen Build Resilience​

Help the teen in your life walk through adversity with strength. Download this free PDF to learn the three steps to go from stress to resilience for youth!

2 thoughts on “Old Enough for a Cell Phone?”

  1. My 8 year old asks me almost daily for a cell phone. My husband and I have decided that there is no reason for her to have one. I don’t see any need at all for young kids to have them.

    1. Right? Actually, I know that there are certain situations where parents feel their kids need one for safety. I am all for kids (in those situations) getting the phone that can call only pre-programmed numbers and 911. That way the parents can make sure that kid to caretaker communication is the only thing the phone is used to do.

Comments are closed.


How Can I Help?

A Little Bit About Dr. G

A widely recognized media personality, Dr. G is your go-to expert on resilience. Countless broadcast outlets rely on her contagious humor and illuminating stories to tackle tough topics. She is regularly seen on TV, as well as interviewed for print and digital outlets. Here, she’s answering your questions. Search for the answers you need, or ask her your question now!
Scroll to Top

A Newsletter All About Resilience

Sign up below to join Dr. G’s newsletter and discover how to ‘Do Stress Better’ and tap into the resilience that already exists inside of you.

Ask Dr. G Your Question

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Book Dr. G

Let Dr. G know you’re interested in having her speak. If you’d like to send her a message click here.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

After pressing submit your forms will be sent to Dr. G and her team. You can expect a response within 1 business day.

Media Inquiry Form

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Insights to Transform Your Stress Into Your Resilience​

Please let us know where to send the Stress to Resilience guide and we’ll send it quick!