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What's the right age for a cellphone?

By Mary Richards | Posted - Aug 9th, 2011 @ 7:09am



SALT LAKE CITY -- It used to be that just older teens had cellphones, but now many preteens are begging for one. The experts say there's no simple answer to the right age for kids to get phones.

Research firm IDC estimates that 70 percent of kids ages 10 to 14 have phones. Pew researchers say one out of three 12-year-olds frequently text their friends. It's no wonder Salt Lake eighth-grader Spencer Meidell really wants a cellphone.

"I'm supposed to be getting one this November," he told KSL.

He thinks he can convince his mom to get him one when his oldest brother leaves home. But his mom, Nancy, says it depends. The older teens got phones when they got busier with church and school activities.

Some experts say preteens don't need anything fancy, just something for texting.

"I don't really care, just a cellphone," Spencer said.

Dr. Cornelia Brunner, deputy director of the Center for Children and Technology, told MSNBC there's not a single answer to when the time is right for children to receive a cellphone. She said circumstances and maturity levels vary dramatically, and parents know their kids best.

Some children are safer with cellphones due to their life situations. Cellphone users can also choose limited-use phones or technology blocks that allow parental controls on things like when calls can be made and to which numbers.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

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