What age should your kid get a phone?

I had a lot of self-righteous ideas about when my oldest daughter would get a phone.

Because of my job, I even got to write about them and give speeches about them in front of audiences. When I put my foot in my mouth, I don’t like to do it in a small way. I go all in!

I honestly thought that we probably wouldn’t get her one until she was in the 9th grade. That seemed like the best age. I had a lot of reasons for this decision and felt fairly confident about the whole thing in general.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

My oldest daughter got a phone on her 12th birthday. That is much, much earlier than I anticipated.

Why did she get one there?

Well, I’ve shared this before, but one thing really changed the whole situation for me.

L.E., my oldest daughter, is in an awesome small group with our church. Over the years, she has really grown to love that group of girls. They have become some of her best friends.

One night, my wife said, “It’s too bad L.E. doesn’t get all those encouraging texts from her small group all week.” I didn’t know what she meant and asked her to clarify.

“Well, all week, every other girl in the group is connected to a group text. They send Bible verses and jokes and encouragement. Since L.E. doesn’t have a phone and she’s the only one without one, she misses that community.”

My main problem was that I was judging my daughter’s adolescence based on mine. I thought, “Her friends can just call our house phone!” What a stupid, stupid thought. Kids don’t use the phone that way. They don’t call each other. I’ve maybe seen my daughter have 5 phone calls in her life. It’s text or nothing.

Suddenly, the phone wasn’t a demonic distraction that would whisk my innocent daughter into a digital wasteland where teens get in trouble, it was a connection point.

Does that mean every kid should get a phone at 12? Nope. I don’t think every kid is the same. I think some are ready at 12 and some aren’t. Each kid matures differently. But, I implore you to think long and hard about the issue. As a dad, I’ve been thrilled at the connection it’s become for us.

L.E. sends me jokes and memes she sees. She texts me out of the blue. In addition to all the updates on where she is or if she made it to her friend’s house on her bike, I get to know her personality in some really fun ways.

If you’re a parent, the phone conversation is headed your way.

The age of 12 worked for us, maybe 14 will be better for you. Time will tell, but please know that it’s not nearly as bad as you think. Your kid’s first phone can be a wonderful experience if you’re deliberate about it.

Fear no phone.


1 Comment
  • Bill Simpson
    Posted at 20:19h, 27 July Reply

    Good article Jon. As a pastor I would encourage you and your family to get Craig Groeschel’s book #struggles and read it. Here is the book’s description (copied from Google books) for a better understanding of what it deals with:

    We all love the benefits of technology and social media, but even with the incredible upsides, many of us suspect there are unintended negative consequences that are beyond our control. We’ve lost perspective, even perhaps ourselves.

    In this relevant and life-changing new book, New York Times bestselling author and pastor of LifeChurch.tv Craig Groeschel encourages readers who are hungry to regain control over their lives and put Christ first again. He walks them though biblical values that all Christ followers know are essential, but are even more important for the maxed out, selfie-centered world we live in.

    The more you compare, the less satisfied you are. The more we interact online, the more we crave face to face intimacy, but the harder it is to have. The more filtered our lives become, the harder it is to be authentic. The more information about the pain in the world we’re exposed to the more difficult it is to care.

    It’s time to refresh and rediscover our understanding for today’s world the biblical principles that life with Christ brings: contentment, intimacy, authenticity, compassion, rest and more. Groeschel taps some of the most up to date studies on the effects of social media on our emotions and our friendships, and shows us through real-life illustrations how we struggle and how we can overcome our struggles with Jesus’ life-changing gospel message.

    With helpful appendices like the 10 Commandments of Using Social Media to Strengthen Your Faith, a challenge to go on Technology Fasts, and Creating Safeguards for Your #Struggles, you’ll find #Struggles to be just the guide to bring balance and real-life engagement to your everyday living.

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