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TECH: My Kid’s Phone

TECH: My Kid’s Phone

Kids and technology: How young is too young?

A September 2014 article in The New York Times mentioned an earlier interview with Apple owner Steve Jobs, just as the company’s first tablet was hitting the shelves. “So, your kids must love the iPad,” the interviewer said.

“They haven’t used it,” Jobs replied. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

After reading this article, I thought, “So tech people don’t think kids should use technology?” Apparently, I didn’t get the memo. I let my daughters play with my phone, especially when we go out to dinner, and I want them to sit nicely.

After a small survey of Columbia parents, it turns out I’m not the only one using my phone as a mobile entertainment station. Columbia parents of young kids tend introduce their children to phones around age 1 or 2 for the same reasons, showing videos and allowing them to play educational apps while supervised.

Based on the results of my small sampling of 30 Columbia parents, I also learned that most parents consider it appropriate for kids to have their own phone somewhere between 8 and 16 years old, with 12 being the average age. Thirty-seven percent say they think it’s appropriate to give a child a phone between the ages of 12 and 14.

One 2012 survey, conducted by ORC International for the National Consumers League, revealed nearly six out of 10 (56 percent) children ages 8 to 12 and about 80 percent of teens between 12 and 17 have their own parent-provided cellphone.

Columbia Public Schools addresses cellphone usage in its Elementary Student Parent Handbook, saying,  “Cellphones are to be off during school hours.”

The CPS Secondary Schools Student Handbook says phones may be allowed on campus. However, “if student disruption occurs, the phone may be required to be relinquished, and consequences will be assigned as according to individual school policy.”

Although kids are carrying phones at increasingly younger ages, most Columbia parents say their kids aren’t spending a ton of time on the device. Parents say their kids look things up, text, play games, listen to music, use Instagram, FaceTime and talk to family members and friends. Seventy-eight percent of these Columbia moms and dads consider the phone a parent-owned device, meaning they can take it away if grades drop or behaviors don’t meet expectations.

Like any other decision, there’s tons of advice out there on how to decide the right time to give your child his or her own phone. And fortunately, in this age of technology, there are many ways to exert your parental control to monitor and restrict how your child uses the phone. Columbia parents seem to have taken a good measure of responsibility over their kids’ phone usage by establishing rules, safeguards and choosing the right device for their children. Read the rules and advice of other Columbia parents on cellphone usage at

Tech Rules

Columbia parents share their guidelines for tech use in the home.

» “We have a strict no-phones-at-the-table rule for all family members. No using anything electronic after 9 p.m. on weekdays.”

» “It is all based on the child. …Technology is not going to stop, so to keep kids in tune with technology, they need to use it.”

» “Everything in moderation. For my kids, when you offer other activities for them, there’s not an issue with them wanting to use electronic devices as frequently.”

» “There is a time for technology and a time to be a kid. Technology has a lot of benefits and educational material that can be used to supplement curriculum or activities in the home. However, I feel my kids are too young for this exposure, and I would rather allow them time to be a child and experience the world on their own, play  outside…and expand their imagination.”

» “We only allow my son to use the phone for emergencies, and he must ask parents if he wants to make additional calls.”

» “The phone needs to be put in mom’s room to charge at bedtime. Parents always have the option to look at anything on the phone, including websites viewed, text messages read, etc.”



Monica is founder of MayeCreate Design. She and her husband, Mike, two daughters, Ellis and Aveleen, and two dogs, Maybe and Roxie. Monica considers herself an artist, yogi and Web dork with the ability to speak geek and English.

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