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Ask Rene: Is Our Grandson Too Young For A Cell Phone?


Ask Rene:
Is Our Grandson Too Young For A Cell Phone? 

Hi Rene: 

I have a eight-year-old grandchild who is with his dad most of the time; unfortunately we don’t get to communicate with him that often , because his dad never answers his phone. So we never know where he is, and with whom. My grandson is very bright kid, and asked for a phone so he could call us. Just wanted to know your thoughts, is eight too young?


Wanting to stay in touch

Hi Wanting:

This is an interesting question and one I actually get quite frequently; in fact I’ve written about my kids’ experiences with cell phones . In your case, it actually sounds like there might be a little more than meets the eye. Still I think there’s a way around it and one that would be beneficial for everyone. Let’s look at the issue and I’ll give you my advice.

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Creative Commons/bam0027

Hmm, that’s a good question. In most cases, I would say yes because it’s rare not to know where a eight-year-old is going to be at any given time of the day; typically they go to school, maybe a playdate and then back home and most always with adult supervision.  Your situation is a bit different, in that you would like to be able to reach your grandson when you want to.

I think the other issue you need to ask yourself is how responsible is he? How likely is he to hang on to the phone without it being damaged or lost? That’s a bit of a tough call because even the most responsible eight-year-old is still, well, eight-years-old. So remember that and get an insurance plan if you do decide to get him a phone.

Read more:  Permissive Parents: Should Responsibility Be Added To The 3 R’s?



Creative Commons/faithdesired

Cell phones are expensive. I would make sure you’re clear on a data usage plan  (think unlimited texting) or buy a pre-paid phone, which are becoming quite popular these days. Because my husband and I both worked in the city, our kids first cell phones were Firefly phones, which was perfect for them given their limited calling ability.

Read more:  GEM On The GO! 5 Ways To Travel With A Teen And Still Come Home With Cash!



Creative Commons/jacquemart

Forgive me for reading between the lines and I may be 100% off-base about this but there’s something about your letter that is raising a red flag for me. I’m not sure what the relationship is with you and your grandson’s father but I definitely don’t think you should buy your grandson a cell phone without checking with him (and his   mother)  first. A cell phone is a big responsibility and expense; if you do that without checking with them, you could be seen as undermining their authority, something that could be confusing for your grandchild. Check with them first, then abide by their wishes.

Read more:  Ask The Good Enough Guy: Why Is She In MY Business?


This is a common question nowadays in the plugged-in, wired-up world in which we live and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But I think if you proceed with caution, and take everyone’s feelings into account, you can find a way to keep in touch with your grandson without overstepping your bounds.

Good luck !

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  1. Sandy Seale

    December 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    First I’d like to point out a discrepancy. To begin with she states he’s 8 yrs. old then at the end says is “6 yrs” too young? So is this in fact an adult writing period? Or was it just a typo. At any rate I agree with Beth in that the father’s wishes should be considered; he obviously is the custodial parent as was stated he’s with him most of the time. There must be a reason he( a.) doesn’t think he should have one. (b.) problems with that side of the family (since he doesn’t answer calls but its possible he just gets lousy reception in his home). At any rate I don’t think its a good idea to give a kid that age a phone….no 8 yr. old is capable of taking care of one or controlling his usage…..thats just the way 8 yr. olds are. As long as he’s being taken good care of by the dad & there are no problems in his home then I’d say its his decision not theirs even if they paid for it. I wouldn’t appreciate someone going against my wishes with my child.

  2. Rene Syler

    December 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Hey Sandy:

    Just a typo on the 6/8 thing.. and as always, thanks for your input!

  3. Karen Baitch Rosenberg

    December 18, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    It’s not fair to the child to go around the dad’s wishes, if that’s the case. It might set the boy and his dad up for arguments about it, it’s usage and whether or not the dad is able use it for incentive or take it away temporarily for punishment. Why does Gma feel the need to know where the child is at all times? Perhaps she can use email. Rule in our house for electronics – if they’re unable to pay for the second one (after they’ve lost, broken the first), they’re too young for them.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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