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Kids and Cell Phones?

By Jodie Lynn


I know you have written about this before a couple of years ago, but I was wondering if you could give your insight on cell phones for kids again. My eight-year-old daughter's dad bought her a cell phone. Many of her friends already have one. My ex-husband says that he just wants to keep in touch with her more frequently. It's more of a luxury in my opinion and now, instead of doing her homework, I'll find her playing games on it. She's very excited about it and I hate to be the mean parent, but shouldn't some restrictions apply?


We have three kids who are constantly all over the place with practices, recitals, games and classes. The oldest is twelve, then ten and eight. My husband has been wanting to get them cell phones for a couple of years now to help with their whereabouts and schedules. However, I felt they were just too young and I'd heard some horror stories from friends about their kids running up the bill like crazy. Only recently did we get the 12-year-old one just because we felt we could teach him responsibility about when, where and how to use it. So far, it has worked out well. If I were you, I'd just give the phone back to your ex-husband and tell him she can have it either only at his house or in three or four years. - E. R. in Norfolk, VA


Personally, I think eight is rather young to have a cell phone. In fact, they can still be pretty expensive, especially if there are not specific restrictions in place. It is quite easy for kids of any age to download games, music and a wide array of apps that may or may not be safe that cost an arm and a leg without them ever realizing it. I am surprised that your ex-husband did not discuss his idea of buying one for her before doing so. Not knowing your relationship with him, perhaps he got it for her because he knew you might not agree and just wanted to avoid an argument. I would talk with him in an non-threatening manner and tell him your concerns about her playing games instead of reading or doing homework. Ask him if he would help you set up guidelines for when and where she should actually use it. Once school is out, explain that she can use it more freely, but it would still be under supervision. If the two of you can join together to talk with her calmly, she will likely be more willing to follow the rules, as opposed to you having to put your foot down by yourself.

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© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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