Mobile Safety: Do Your Kids Have a Cell Phone #attmobilesafety

Over the last few months I have spent a great deal of time educating local parents about cell phone safety for kids.


Research* has shown that the average age a child gets their first cell phone is 12 years old, but we know kids are getting phone earlier and earlier. My twins are six and they have asked for a cell phone. Of course the answer was no.

*Did You Know:

  • More than 1 in 5 kids have received a bullying text message from a peer.
  • 69% of kids have answered a call from an unknown number.
  • 53%  of kids have been in the car with someone who was texting and driving.

When you gave your child their first phone did you go over safety topics with them?

31% of kids between the ages of 8-11 do have a cell phone. At this age it is mostly for the cool factor. Here are a few things you will want to consider before giving your child a phone at this age:

  • are they responsible enough to take care of the phone
  • what will the consequences be if they lose the phone
  • how will you handle them accidentally using features that accrue fees
  • will you establish ground rules for the phone and how will you do this
  • what are the cell phone rules at school and are their fines associated


This is the prime age for you to educate and inform children of the purpose of a cell phone and what function it truly serves.

If your child is asking for a cell phone you might want to dive a little deeper and ask for a specific explanation on why he “needs” a phone. If he received a game system for Christmas last year and did not take care of it, he likely is not going to take care of a cell phone. Has he proven to you he can be responsible?

Maybe a cell phone is an alternative allowance. Teaching a child how to stay within a budget when it comes to a weekly allowance is a life lesson. If you feel it is time for a cell phone, you might consider this as an allowance.

Don’t forget to teach your child modern etiquette when it comes to their cell phone. It is never ok to disturb others when using your cell phone or to use photo or video functions as a means to harass or embarrass someone.

Remember to identify rules for the cell phone. No calls after 8:00 pm. Cell phone is to be kept in mom and dad’s room after 8:00 pm. Mom and dad have access to check all messages and call log, etc.

*Shocking Stats:

  • 2 out of 5 kids with a mobile phone say their parents have not talked to them about mobile safety.
  • Only 66% of kids say they have rules on their phone usage.
  • 90% of kids say it’s okay for parents to set rules on their phone usage.

AT&T has an endless line of products and services that will help you in setting the ground rules for your child’s cell phone. Some of the features are free and some accrue a small monthly fee.

AT&T Offers Products that Allow You to:

  • set limits
  • curb data usage
  • block harassing numbers
  • limit access and set dollar amounts
  • set time restrictions
  • disable incoming features while being used in a car that is in motion
  • install GPS tracking should the phone ever be lost and more

You can check out all of the mobile safety products offered by AT&T for more information.

And remember, feel confident even if you have to say no when you’re child asks for their first cell phone. You are the parent and you know what is best.


* Research published in the AT&T Mobile Safety study was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and involved a nationally representative dual-frame random digit dial (RDD) sample consisting of both landline and cell phone telephone interviews with 1,000 adults who have a mobile phone and children between the ages of 8–17 who also have a mobile phone; and 500 children between the ages of 8–17 who have a mobile phone (55 interviews were conducted among children ages 8–11; 186 among ages 12–14; and 259 among ages 15–17).
The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points among the full parents sample and plus or minus 4.6 percentage points among the full children sample. The margin of sampling error will be higher for subgroups.
Feel free to read my full disclosure.


  1. says

    Our oldest son got a cell phone in August for his 14th birthday. He was definitely one of the last kids in his grade to get one. My husband and I felt the need to educate him and lay the rules out so nothing was a surprise, and made up a cell phone contract that has become quite popular around the internet. I share it to parents for free so that they can use whatever points work for their family. For us, it’s worked out quite well in the past two months of using it. And now my son is suggesting we make a contract for other privileges he has!

    You can find the contract here:
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  2. Get Well With Jo says

    My oldest son was 17 when he got his first cell phone. I’m European and there is so much information in Europe about how dangerous the cell phone radiation is so we wanted to hold off as long as possible..
    My two youngest children are 11 and 12 and we have no plans on purchasing any cell phones for them in the near future..
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  3. says

    Many mobile apps use a feature called geolocation, which allows you to share your location with other people. This can be a fun and useful feature, and depending on how it’s used it may not be too risky. But if you’re uncomfortable having your child’s location shared, you can turn off location-based services for some or all of the apps on the device
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  4. says

    Thank you for speaking up about this important concern! My son is only 7, so it isn’t an issue for him or his friends yet, but when I interact with older kids (or their parents are talking to me about why they got the kid a cell phone) I am aware of a lot of problems with how cell phones are used.

    One thing that blows my mind is that a lot of parents “have to” get the kid a cell phone because the kid goes to sports practice, school play rehearsal, or the library and “has to” call a parent when they’re ready to be picked up. Does nobody remember how we used to handle this when we were kids?! Make a plan to pick up at a specific time! When something unexpected happens and the activity ends early, well, most of these are supervised activities, so the adult in charge should let the kid use a phone and/or stay until parents come. In places like the library, use a pay phone or ask at the desk to use their land line. I don’t have a cell phone myself, and I find it pretty easy to manage without it! I think a lot of parents give in too easily when kids ask for their own cell phone.

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