I would think 13+ would be appropriate however my neighbor's daughter received one for her 7th birthday and it caused the need for a chat with our kids. The child is homeschooled and never away from her mom so why a phone at 7 - way too young.
I would have chosen 13 or 14, so I went with the older one. Personally, there are times when my son (who is now 5) is out playing with friends, and I wish I could get a hold of him. I make do with calling the other moms in the neighborhood. Also, there are times when he wants to talk to family that is out of state, and I wish I could use my phone while he's on mine. So the elmo phone with 5 approved numbers sounds really good. But then I think REALLY? I want to teach that kind of materialism? I have a feeling that when he's 10 we are going to have the "Mom I want a phone" and "No, you're too young" conversation. At that point, I think if he wants to pay the bills out of his allowance, I'll probably point out how little money he'll have left, and let him make his own decision.
I am in the 10+ range although I am starting to waffle a bit. He's already run into a couple situations at age 7 that his friend's home did not have a landline. And he's been too shy to ask the adult to use their cell phone depsite being uncomfortable.
So.... it may be sooner than later. But it will be a preprogammed phone with a specific set of numbers.
I held out getting a cell phone a long time, but have had two emergency situations where a payphone was impossible to find and had to ask complete strangers to use their cells.
I'm one of those way-out-there "NEVER" people. Mostly because my kids just don't need one, I can't anticipate them ever really needing one and unless they enter med school as a teen and need to be in constant contact with their patients I figure I'll stand firm on that.
Probably because I myself don't have a cell phone. I just don't want to be found so easily I guess :)
I think HS is a reasonable age for a kid to have a cell phone. But I'll only pay for a basic plan with limited minutes. They want more - they gotta come up with the extra bucks. they have to learn responsibility and restraint.
Our 11yo had pestered us for a year, but we caved when he started middle school this past fall. He texted mostly (TGF unltd. text plans). He knows it's only for us to reach him, or if he needs us while he's at karate (he assists the classes, so he's there 3 hours). We were VERY clear about not abusing it. He has respcted the parameters. I would HIGHLY recommend adding the insurance for your child's phone added to your plan. I've heard from too many friends that their kids have damaged theirs. Can't tell you how many have ended up in the toilet (???really - who brings a phone into a bathroom - really???)!! Tip: if a cell phone or iPod gets wet, plunk it into a bowl of rice immediately. It helps to absorb the moisture. Oh, and for those few times you need to entertain a youngster and you choose to lend them your phone....just be sure it's loaded up with their favorite MobiStories (shameless plug - but this time it's rather appropos).
My cut-off is actually about 13. I think 11 and 12 they are still mostly around adults with cell phones and don't really need it, toddler and small kids definitely don't need one at all. Kids have so much media and other foolish influence everywhere, they honestly need to be playing and not worrying about phones. If they like yours, get them a toy one. They just don't have any need for a phone. Honestly, what 4 or 5 year old needs a phone for an emergency? Where are the parents or that nanny that are supposed to be supervising him? Hmmmm.
Once they're about 13-14 they start doing the group thing, going to the mall, movies etc. And as Ms Sassy stated above it is just way easier to communicate with practices/games, etc. My freshman's phone costs only $10 a month, which we pay, the phone was free for adding a new line, and he pays for any texting or extras. Now my 11 year old daughter wants one just "because" and honestly doesn't need it, so we're holding off on that.
haha i'm the one vote for 3-6. i have a 2 year old who is already in preschool. he's obsessed with my iphone and all things electronic. hubby and i discussed it - when he's ready (likely 4 or 5, not now for heaven's sake!), we'll get him one of those "preschool" moblie phones that only have three buttons - we'll program them with numbers for mommy, daddy and nanny, just in case of emergency.
I chose the 11-13 range. That's what we did but with our boys. But it was a difficult decision. In fact, I fought it with every beat of my heart with my oldest. I finally gave in for parenting reasons, not for friend/talky reasons. They are so active in sports and clubs that they often need to call me when they are done with meetings/practise. They call when they are leaving the park or a friend's house to walk/bike home. It was a way to ease my parenting fears while they eased into their independence. And I can totally call them and say "You didn't finish your chores dude, pack it up and come home now." Muwahahahaha