When should kids get a phone?

My oldest child will turn 11 in a few weeks. He will start middle school in the fall. He has asked for a phone for his birthday, and I am considering the request.

I know that many of his friends already have various forms of smart phones. I also know that in middle school there will not be one teacher responsible for making sure he gets home in the event of dismissal changes. He has activities now with variable end times, and will start doing more of these.

So there is some logic to getting a phone. There are also some potential downsides.

I’m not terribly worried about volume of screen time. Between school, sports and other extra-curriculars, homework, family activities, and an enforced bedtime, there aren’t that many hours available for random web surfing. Longtime readers may also suspect I find the wistful nostalgic essays posted on the internet (the irony!) about how children need to be out climbing trees kind of funny.

That said, there are some not nice things on the web — the obvious not-nice things, and not-nice things I haven’t even thought to think about. While he uses our home computer (and sometimes my old laptop) to access YouTube and games, these are possible to police in a way that might become difficult if he has a phone that travels with him.

Then there’s this more practical issue: this is a child who managed to lose his winter coat twice in one weekend. I shudder to think how many phones might disappear.

Since he is our eldest, whatever we decide for him will inevitably become our family “phone policy.” So I’m curious what other people’s family phone policies might be. At what age have your children gotten phones? What kind of phones? What rules did you develop? And what happens when your children lose the phones or violate the rules?

Photo: Say hello to the future indeed…

37 thoughts on “When should kids get a phone?

  1. My sons got flip phones in middle school, but that was the only type of phone that existed! Youngest is almost 22. It was great for any schedule changes or the “pick me up” phone call for after-school practices. I’m interested to see how other people answer this question…

    1. @Calee- I’d like to hear more about the smart watch idea, as that might be good for our situation. He would have a harder time losing a watch than a phone, and the more basic functionality vs. the whole of the internet could have some perks.

  2. We started our kids off with inexpensive, pay-as-you-go, flip phones. They had to hold on to them and use them responsibly for a year before we would consider a smart phone for them.

    1. @Megan – I’ve heard of it – I’m also not aware of any research on why 14 would be the exact right age, other than that “wait” rhymes with “eight.” As for smart phones changing childhood (the nostalgia argument) – childhood didn’t exist until recently in the way people think of it. I certainly think there are reasons to avoid giving children smart phones but I also think things can be oversimplified too.

      1. Have you read your friend’s book? The one you recommended recently? The Good News Boyt Bod Behavior… I’m curious what you think of the research presented there.

        1. @Noemi- yes, I’ve read it! There are also a lot of other newish books on the topic out — like The Art of Screen Time, Be the Parent Please, etc. There isn’t much long term research because such devices haven’t been around that long – and the apps/sites are changing constantly (as people point out). So if someone elected to do a study on whether MySpace is bad for people…well… There are also so many confounding factors here. More educated parents with more resources are more likely to limit screen time. But those kids already have lots of advantages, so if it looks like limiting screen time has benefits, that may be playing in.

  3. We recently got our two oldest used iPods for Christmas (8 & 10) which, while they don’t technically have the phone capability to call and text, they can still use to FaceTime grandparents and friends who recently moved across the country. I like that they can take pictures, look up information, set timers, use overdrive for digital and audiobooks and even do some schoolwork on them.

    However, I do notice that there are times now when things get quiet because one of them is watching a movie on Netflix and they other three are huddled around it too.

    We set rules about keeping them downstairs in the kitchen counter at night and not taking them in the car (we listen to audiobooks, which they enjoy, but get distracted if they have a screen in front of them). I also put very strict parental content controls on both of them. My brother has a story about how a friend handed his ten year old an iPad once for ten minutes and when he came back the kid had accidentally stumbled onto hardcore pornography just by typing curious questions into Google.

    Overall, I have mixed feelings about them and I wish we had waited longer.

    1. @Sarah – we have Kindles on which the kids can play games and watch videos. We set some limits on it, though we’ve definitely lifted the limits for times too.

  4. Our kids could have a phone once they had earned enough money to buy one. If they weren’t old enough to have an outside job (yard work, shoveling snow, or babysitting for neighbours) they could earn money by doing jobs for us at home. Set job, set amount of time, set standard of quality for a set price. For example, weed all the gardens (which should take about an hour at our place) for $10 – 15, and if it is done to my satisfaction the first time then they get the full amount. For each time they have to go back and do something over the amount drops by a dollar to a minimum possible payment of $10. You get my thinking on this . . . train them to do a good job the first time. It is amazing how their requirements for a fancy phone changes when they have to earn the money to buy it. There are lots of odd jobs and seasonal jobs at home that can get done this way. My eldest daughter earned the money for her phone when she was 13 by cutting and trimming our lawn and the neighbour’s for a summer (an acre in total), and my second daughter saved up from babysitting jobs. Suddenly what is essential versus ‘nice to have’ features becomes clearly defined when they have to pay for it. We pay a minimal amount for a prepaid monthly plan for unlimited calling and texting, no data. If they want data, then they have to pay the extra costs associated with that. As far as needing to contact you from school or activities, all these places have offices that will allow them to call you if needed. They don’t have to have their own phone in order to keep in touch with you. We just made sure that we spoke to the office staff ahead of time to ensure that our child would be allowed to use the office phone to contact us, if needed. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but this worked well for us. They also learned to take a book with them everywhere so that if they had to wait for us, they had something to do. If we were really delayed we would call the office or coach and ask them to relay a message to our child. As a bonus, my eldest daughter (who HATED cutting the lawn!) is now 18 with a full time summer job doing lawn and facilities maintenance at a local campground/amusement park and she loves it . . .not to mention she is earning a decent salary plus overtime to save for university in the fall. Another bonus, the youngest (12) is now looking for work so she can save up for when she wants a phone. She doesn’t want one yet, but she has the idea that if she works ahead then she’ll have the money to buy one when she wants one. Also, we considered that if they lost a phone that they had bought, it was a very valuable life lesson in learning to look after your belongings, and we told them in advance they would have to work to buy their replacement phone as well. Nothing lost so far. Everyone’s situation and need for a phone is different, but this approach worked well for us when they wanted a phone but didn’t really NEED one.

    1. There are always office phones at school, and there are always other kids with phones you can borrow to call your parents. A lack of access to phones does not seem like a problem that needs to be solved by getting your own child a phone. I can say this flippantly because my oldest (almost 10) is only in the “soft lobbying” phase. And the majority of her friends don’t have phones yet- which makes my life easier.

      The gizmo gadget watch seems like a good option. It allows simple texting to a few contacts and two way calling. The basics- I guess the same as a flip phone. A friend is getting that for her daughter, as she is walking to school by herself next year and the gps/tracking gives a little extra peace that she crossed the busy street safely and made it to school. (On the one hand, we all walked to school without our parents tracking us via gps, but on the other hand- I didn’t walk to school and see half of the drivers looking down at their phones as they drove.)

      I am very in support of my kids earning the money for their phones. We had to pay for our own gas and car insurance growing up, which did add a certain amount of respect for the privilege.

  5. As a middle school teacher in a district with well off families, I see first hand how 6th-8th graders use their smart phones: very little of it is constructive and majority is very concerning. An iPhone gives them access to the entire world and they absolutely don’t have the maturity level to manage that kind of access in a responsible way. Can some handle it? Sure. But the pressure to participate in certain forms of social media that are not at all positive is very high. Without a smart phone they can more easily decline to be a part of that.
    I honestly can’t fathom why a 6th grader needs a smart phone. If being able to contact them is the goal a flip phone achieves that as well as a smart phone, without providing access to the myriad apps and social media networks that might be harmful.

    My daughter is only 8 and already wants an iPhone but she isn’t getting one until at least high school. And then she’ll have to save up for one and buy it herself. If she’s going to have one it will also be a lesson in how very much they cost and how very easy they are to lose or break. She will also have to contribute to the family data plan. I see my students throw theirs around like they are nothing because they know they will be given another one. I want to avoid that kind of entitlement in my own kids. I want them to appreciate expensive technology for what is, a privilege and not a necessity.

  6. I went to a very sobering talk by a police officer around kids and Internet safety that made me decide my girls could have phones when they’re 30 😛 But seriously, he talked about how all these social networking apps (many of which I’ve never heard of) have so many avenues for child predators to get at kids. And the bullying possibilities expand as well. He has a book out with practical tips on how to manage this but I can’t recall his name right now. (LMK if you’re interested and I’ll dig up my notes.)

    My kids are in our neighborhood K-8 school (walking distance from home) so I see no reason for them to have phones until after they leave this school – they can always use the phone in the office, and have, when we’ve forgotten to pick them up on Early Release day or whatever (sigh). For social media, I am definitely making the TOU the bad guy (Oh, Instagram says you need to be 14 to have an account, sorry.)

    I’d be more open to getting them a simple phone for calls only rather than a full on Smartphone, if we needed to communicate. They can earn/pay for data as they get older. I do like the iPod idea for “starter” safe social media use plus you’re not paying for data with that.

  7. We are up against this decision soon as well. For us this decision is complicated by the fact that beginning in 6th grade students in our school can walk into our (very safe) town at lunch. The general culture in our town is that kids roam pretty freely on foot. I generally like this kind of freedom and it is part of what drew us to where we live (it seemed much further off when he was 2 than it does now that he is 10). For this reason, 6th grade is when many of the kids in our town get a phone. I also like that I can track him (which I guess we could also do with a watch) with “find my iphone. ” However, I know he does not have the maturity to handle social media so any phone is going to come with some serious rules regarding apps and lots of monitoring of the browser history. I think we will end up getting him a phone going into 6th grade and that will be the “policy” as his 3 younger siblings grow up. We will discuss regularly issues around social media and we will definitely be monitoring his phone a lot! Ugh, not looking forward to this part of parenting.

  8. We got my older daughter a cell phone at the start of this school year, when my kids started walking to school. She was 10 (she is now 11). We got her a cheap Android smart phone, but set it up so she can’t add apps without our permission. So, no social media. (Except pinterest- I let her get an account there because she likes looking for fairy stuff and related art projects. I check in with her periodically about what she’s looking at, and she has tried some of the art projects she finds. That led to a really useful conversation about how what people post on social media is highly curated and how it is normal to have our day to day life not measure up to those curated images. Talking about that in respect to an art project was a really low key way to introduce some concepts I think are very important in our social media age, so I’m glad that happened.)

    Anyway, back to the phone. We leave for work about 20-40 minutes before they leave for school most days. She texts when she gets to school, both to me and to the mom of any kid who is walking with her (her best friend and her brother usually walk with them, and sometimes other friends get dropped off at our house early because parents have early appointments, and then they all walk together.) She also texts other people in the family and close adult friends of the family. A few of her friends also have phones now, and they text occasionally about homework, but not a lot of other things. That may change when her BFF gets a phone. We’ll see.

    The phone has also been useful for her to reach me after school if she wants to go home with a friend instead of going to after care and for coordinating when to pick her up from play dates, etc. All of these things could be accomplished without the phone, but the phone makes life easier.

    We have not had any rule violations, so haven’t had to take the phone away. It “sleeps” in the living room, not her room, and I have not seen any tendency to overuse it. A lot of this is easier because she is by nature a rule-follower and tends to ask permission to do things if she is unsure. It will be interesting to see how her more “better to ask forgiveness than permission” younger sister handles the phone when her time comes! We may need to have more rules laid out for her.

  9. Our son asked for a phone / iPod starting in 5th grade. He got my old iPad to play at home instead 🙂 We told him that high school (which starts at your equivalent of 7th grade in our country) would mean he gets a computer. The phone idea went out the window with that proposal and everything was quiet through 6th grade, with him dreaming of a brand new gaming laptop (which he got at 12 when starting “7th” grade, as promised). Just before christmas this year (still 12), my husband gave him a old iPod 5 and he manages well the amount of time he spends on it (max of 30 min from dinner to bed, always before 8pm for blue light effects), not loosing it, taking care of it, etc. We are his friends on facebook and Instagram and he posts respectful and/or funny pics or thoughts. FB is just for family and close friends and I maxed the security and privacy issues with him to teach him about it, but anyway kids don’t really care about FB, he uses the FB messenger to chat with his grandparents and aunts uncles cousins, etc only. Instagram is a closed account so only his approved friends can see his pics. I know he has a snapchat account and I told him I trust him by not following him on it and I think he was proud that I trusted him. He chats on google hangout for school with what seems like 1 000 000 friends and there has been no incident in the last 6 months. Long story short, he has a mean to go on these apps and chat with friends at school (well off district, 90% of kids have an ipod/iphone/ipad of some sort). Sooooo, your post is timely because yesterday I gave him my old iphone 6 and he is over the moon that we will pay a 20$/month for a voice/text prepaid combo for him. He does not want data but said that if he comes to that he will get the money himself (i.e. his grandparents, he does his chores at home for free, like mom and dad do them for free!). Two years ago I would have said no way, but they mature very very fast once they get to high school with all the added responsabilities and juggling of their time.

  10. Laura, I am a recovering and recently retired teacher. I spent the last 10 years of my career in middle school and have real mixed feelings on the phone issue. I find that the comparison and consumerism problem is a big hassle. You would be surprised how many children just abandon their phones at schools to get upgrades, etc. I had a small flip phone that I kept just to make calls and the children just thought that was hilarious! I really think that if you were going to get your child a phone that is all they would need. No use for a smart phone, and they can learn to appreciate the basics and delay the problems that come with an expensive device with a lot of extra features.

  11. Both of my kids got (flip) phones around 11 and I had no regrets. A few things to consider:
    How much freedom does your son have to bike around the neighborhood, walk to friends’ houses, etc? There aren’t any public phones anymore and I’m not so sure schools/teachers appreciate kids using the phones.
    Some families I’ve known have started out with a 3rd cell phone that generally stays in the kitchen unless the child is leaving the house. It’s a nice compromise.
    Take advantage of upgrades, and then hold on to those old phones! My son’s phone died so we upgraded. That one was then stolen at high school (lesson learned). He then used an old phone until another upgrade was available.
    Both of my kids are a bit shy and were hesitant to call friends. Texting, though, enabled them to make plans themselves and build their self-confidence.
    My two cents: talk with your kids about phones and the impact of phones; keep the kids involved in activities that build relationships face-to-face; until the kids are older, check their texts and social media accounts; know who your kids are hanging out with and (as much as you can), build relationships with those parents.

  12. Huh, I guess I should have known that a post about kids and phones would have comments filled with pearl clutching and values signaling. I considered getting my 6 year old a phone last year when our babysitter failed to pick her up from the bus. I don’t really think she needs one for any other purpose at this point, but I’m sure there will be texting and other apps in a few years time that may be important to her. Probably sooner than I think. We’ll see. Hopefully some predator won’t find her and rape her, she won’t turn into a zombie who can only communicate with others via a screen, a spoiled little brat who has a too-expensive toy, cease all movement and become obese, become a mean girl cyber bully, or have her brain melt and run out of her ears (I hear many jobs are good at accomplishing that anyway so on second thought why not start them young). If those things happen, I will take comfort in knowing she is less likely to use drugs or get pregnant, if she is absorbed into her phone 24 hours a day, which is the only claim here supported by data, would you believe!

    Btw, allow me to be the lone dissenter regarding your site design. I find it less user friendly and more resembling an advertisement. Off putting is the word I am looking for I think. I’m not your target audience though so feel free to disregard.

    Apologies if I’ve offended people, which I’m sure I have! It was meant to be tongue in cheek for the most part.

    1. @Omdg – I appreciate the feedback on the website. It’s always a balancing act between the fun of the blog, and the reality of promoting my books and speeches, which is what I do for a living. I agree that this is more marketing-focused than before. On the other hand, there are still no sponsored posts, ads, or affiliate links!

      I also agree that there is little research supporting a lot of claims on smart phone screen time – too short a time for longitudinal studies, plus so many confounding factors with income/education/parental attention in general. We do know that the teen pregnancy rate is down, the teen crime rate is down, the teen drunk driving rate is down, etc. There may be upsides to not interacting in person as much with other immature people! Downsides too, of course, but also some positives.

    2. I don’t care for the new website either. It’s too busy. I can’t comment on phones because my kids are too old. They both got flip phones when they got their drivers license. I just got my first iPhone last November.

  13. Our oldest who is now 19 got her first phone halfway through 8th grade when we allowed her to come home after school alone to our home. She didn’t have a smart phone until after high school because we decided that if her grades weren’t where they needed to be then we couldn’t trust her with an expensive technological phone. She is highly capable at this point. Our younger children are in 4th and 6th grade and haven’t asked for a phone yet. They still go to grandparents homes after school. We do sometimes leave the 3 kids alone at home and have a regular cell phone for them to reach us when we go out. Sometimes our boys get in arguments with their sister and she refuses to let them call us. We are currently unsure when to allow our boys to have phones since they haven’t asked.

    My brother has 3 kids and each one of them ended up with a cell phone in 6th grade since they would be going to be home alone due to no afterschool care and grandparents still working. Honestly it is up to the parents and the situation they have as to when it is appropriate or not.

    1. @Sandy- I agree that it is totally up to the parents and whatever you decide is right for your family will be fine. The kids will most likely be fine regardless too. Scary stuff makes the headlines, but that’s always been the case.

  14. We allow a dumb phone with voice and text only in middle school (in our district, 7th grade) and a smartphone in high school. Electronics for all but the high school senior sleep in the living room and phones go to bed at 8. When grades are not where they should be (a different cutoff for each child), the phone gets an earlier bedtime (moving from 8 pm to 6), and then continuing grades below the cutoff means the phone is lost until the next progress report that shows grades up again. My oldest lost her phone for 5 months last year.

  15. We went through this around a year and a half ago. In the end we bought our now twelve year old daughter an i-phone for her eleventh birthday, and so far I would say it has been a success. Our decision was influenced by…

    During the year following her eleventh birthday she would be moving up to ‘high school’ (ages 11 to 18). In our corner of the UK that means that she would switch from a 5 minute walk to primary school with a parent to independently walking to the train station, buying a ticket or producing her pass, catching a train then walking herself another ten minutes to school. So we wanted her to have some means to call us. Indeed, twice during this first year the train has been very late or cancelled. She rang me and I managed to pick her up from the station and drive her there instead. She can also let us know if she is running late on the way home or going somewhere with friends.

    The next decision was basic phone or smart phone. I found this one trickier. In the end we did go with the i-phone. Each pupil at her high school uses an i-pad for school and homework, so the i-phone does link up with some of the software the school uses. This is handy on occasion but we would actually have been fine without. Socially she has been glad to be able to join in group chats via the i-phone that her friends with more basic models could not. This has helped her accept more easily our refusal to let her use any social media yet, despite this being commonplace among her peers. With high-school teachers in our extended family we are too aware of the risks that smart phones genuinely can have, so we have taken some measures to protect her. First she is not allowed to take her phone upstairs. Second, my husband has linked her phone to his, so he can see every app she uses and every photograph she takes. We also bought it on the understanding that we would carry out spot-checks on her messages. This meant we discovered and were able to get to the bottom of a brief period of text-bullying among her peers last year, discuss this with her and help her deal with it.

    Fortunately she is a very organized little person and to my astonishment so far she has not once lost or damaged the phone, i-pad or train pass!! Whether my son will end up being as reliable…? Hmmm…. But as you say, the precedent has somewhat been set.

    I don’t think we’ll really know until further down the line whether we made all the best decisions. I would love to hear what you choose to do!

  16. Our 12 year old started walking to school alone this year and we decided we would feel better if she had a way to contact us in case of emergency. Our solution was to put a SIM card in an old iPhone 4 that we had lying around. This allows her to make calls and to send and receive texts but the operating system is too old to allow any social media apps. She isn’t particularly into her phone so it hasn’t been a problem. We are anti-social media at this age and have already received 6th grade-wide warnings from the school counselor about kids getting into trouble with those apps.

  17. I’ve read many, but not all, of the comments. My kid’s the same age as yours and while we do have a household smart phone (stays in the house) so that if, e.g., he is home alone for a bit, he can call us if he wants/needs something, the rule is that that phone is to be used only for calls and not taken out of the house.

    The few times I have wanted DS to take that phone with him somewhere, he’s refused, because it’s “too big to fit in his pocket.” (Probably true, in terms of comfort, though it’s a Moto E, not a big phone).

    I recently bought myself an M5 card phone through Amazon (you can search and see it easily) and I ***love it***. It is the size of 3 or 4 credit cards stacked on top of each other (i.e. as wide/long as a CC but as thick as 3 or 4) and it can be used to …. make and receive phone calls. I stash it in my pocket when I go out for a run, and/or turn my smartphone off if I don’t want to be tempted to use its other functions, and have the card phone so I’m reachable (I use Ting for service, and my total bill for both phones is generally <$30/month). I think I'll let DS use that phone on occasions when I want him to have one for out-n'-about. It's not obvious to me whether its small size will make it more or less likely to get lost.

    We've told DS he doesn't get any tablets or portable devices until he's learned how to touch type at a reasonable speed, so that's off the table for a bit.

  18. 13, goes along with becoming a bar/bat mitzvah, ie, growing up and increased responsibility. Get insurance and a tracker on a computer for inevitable misplacing of the phone. She spends a lot of time on Instagram sharing art with friends. She’s probably doing plenty we don’t know about, but so far no problems. We discuss internet issues very frequently, and they’ve been discussed at school as well. She had a flip phone for a year pre bat mitzvah, and it did not work out. She just wasn’t interested enough to carry it around with her, so we couldn’t get in touch, which is the whole point of the phone.

  19. I haven’t read all the comments, sorry if this was a repeat. We did the first phone mid 8th grade. My kids’ school makes it a little easier because phones are banned in middle school. I think it was a fine time, I could have waited until the end of 8th grade but would not have done it earlier. I actually didn’t like the way suddenly lots of other kids were having “conversations” with my daughter when I used to have her all to ourselves. I am lucky in that she is not that into social media, but I think that is troubling earlier. Rules: no phone in the bedroom, it charges with everyone’s phone including parents in a common area, no texting in the car or of course at the table. Good luck.

  20. Hi… Where the idea of a flip phone is nice, from a logistics standpoint – chargers, tech support – I will be simply putting a SIM card in their old iPhones they use as a WiFi device currently.

    I’ll share this post I wrote a while back as to what I will do to manage their device:


    In addition to this – monitoring! From watching the detail of phone bill to watching social media accounts – not necessarily their own (a discussion for another time) but their friends’ accounts to see if they are posting about my kiddos or simply posting my kiddos – photos, videos, etc. That is something I already do as one of the girls in 4th grade has her own YouTube channel!


  21. Our house rule is that you have permission to have a phone the summer before 6th grade. Our children have to buy their own phone and we pay for the service until high school. They also need to sign a contract (I customized a template that I found on the Internet) and pay for an repairs or replacements if they lose or break the phone. So far, it’s worked well for us.

  22. As a middle-school educator and new mom, I say wait as long as you can—which I realize isn’t easy! Texting and Snapchat are how students mostly communicate these days, so the pressure of all the other kids having a phone can make this decision even tougher. My school has a policy that phones/smart watches etc. must be kept in students’ lockers during the school day, but we are a one-to-one school where students are issued an iPad…so there’s that.

    At the end of the day, I’m always struck by the “lure of the device,” and how students are immediately attached to their phones as soon as the bell has rung. I’d say if you’re going to get one, start with a basic phone instead of a smart phone. While every kid is different, when you give them a phone they can access anything, and it’s slightly scary to think about handing over a smart phone (a highly-addictive piece of technology) to an 11-year-old. I guess I’ve seen or heard about too many situations where kids make bad choices they regret. Ah technology, it’s a blessing…and a curse!

  23. A few years ago, my husband and I encountered this question, although not with our oldest, who is now 14. He has not asked for a phone, but 2 of his younger siblings (now almost 13YO and 10.5YO) have. My husband and I told them that we don’t believe that they need phones until high school at the earliest, and that they can have phones when they can pay to purchase them and to pay for the minutes. We will not be buying phones for them. They will not get phones just because they ‘want’ them. They need to earn them and treat them appropriately. (The two of us don’t even have iPhones; we make do with inexpensive TracFones, which work fine as *phones* and cameras. We text sometimes, but we don’t even use the data plan.) At least one of us is in attendance at the kids’ activities, so the ‘I-need-a-phone-to-call-for-a-ride’ argument doesn’t apply, and neither does the ‘I-need-to-talk-to-my-friends’ argument, because they are with friends at the activities, anyway.

    Best of luck with your decision, Laura! It’s not easy, no matter what you decide.

    PS: I just remembered that I still owe you my time log (from the challenge earlier this year)! I need to find where I saved it… Also, I plan to preorder “OFF THE CLOCK” today. I love the Introduction and can’t wait to read the entire book! 🙂

    1. @Robin – Looking forward to seeing the time log. And thank you for pre-ordering Off the Clock!

      I understand the desire to have kids know the value of money, and working for things and paying for things themselves. On the other hand, we do sometimes get things just because we “want” them – that’s the whole point of birthday gifts (or Christmas gifts, or whatever gift-giving holiday you celebrate). Some of the cheaper phones are definitely in line with what we’ve spent on birthday presents in the past. He isn’t having a big friend birthday party this year. For comparison, two years ago we took him and three friends (and my husband and me) to a Phillies game. Paying for 6 decent tickets, food/drinks, a sitter for the younger kids — that comes out to more than a phone and 12 months of a bare bones plan.

      With four kids, it’s sometimes hard to be in attendance at all activities. In our case, that argument really does apply!

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