Getting your child a phone in elementary school


"When should I get my child a phone? At what age?"

Most of the answers you receive will tell you to wait as long as possible, until around 12 or 13. That's not a solution. Here’s why I say, “phone by 5th,” as long as it’s a healthy kids phone.

As parents, we know what happens when something is forbidden

It’s wildly different to ease your child into something while still fairly innocent. You’ll sit by and watch other parents suffer through the countless fights and negotiations in holding their children off until 8th grade, thinking, “Why aren’t they teaching their child about technology?” In some of our research with kids, we noticed that few of them actually knew why they wanted a phone—it mostly seems like an item one should have, similar to a child’s idea that “getting big” is so important.

Younger kids are more accepting

Tween/teen years bring on suspicion of authority and extreme privacy. Introducing and working through technology while your kids still trust you helps you to navigate a powerful tool. Your daughter will better understand why you monitor texts, apps, searches and screen time for her, not against her, at an age where that still made sense! Work through tech issues as a team.

Teaching independence early is helpful, as long as it’s safe

Giving your kid a phone can allow them, along with friends (with approval from all parents), to start spreading their wings, become street smart, and exert their independence in an exciting and safe way that keeps you available (and keeps them locatable by GPS monitoring) at all times.

Everyone is more reasonable before puberty

Listen to one Pinwheel parent: “Our daughter began using a smartphone while she still believed boys were gross, selfies were weird, and parents were smart. We came up with rules together, many of which she laid out so she wouldn’t turn into an 'annoying screen zombie.' We put our foot down on a few decisions, like no social media till 13---it’s the law. And so did she, like making dinner a no-phone zone for all of us. It was all very rational because she was rational, and we were all on the same team.”

The deeper connections that come with smartphones are real

What if you could hear about school when it’s fresh, even while you’re still at work? Especially on topics your daughter may not want to bring up with the whole family at dinner. You and your child can discuss the complex friend dynamics of her texts which you monitor through the Pinwheel Caregiver Portal. And you can have fun as your kid introduces you to new music that you listen to as a family. You can even have a walkie-talkie connection with your kids and whole family during certain times of day. Most of all, you can enjoy watching your child form safe bonds with relatives that influence their lives for the better.