Wait Until 8th Grade or 8 Years for a Smartphone?

January 14th, 2019 by Kelly Staruck


Parents of young children have to decide at what age they want to give their child a smartphone. And is it a debate? Or does it just slowly creep up on you and it’s suddenly happened? It is easy to say you won’t or shouldn’t give a child a phone until they are constantly asking for or stealing yours.


In Level 7’s recent nationwide study, we asked that question to over 600 adults 18+. The majority (62%) felt it was not appropriate to gift expensive digital technology (phone, computer or tablet), you know – the real stuff not pretend, to a child under the age of 10. Only one in five (21%) felt this was ok, yet almost another fifth were uncertain. Those over 50 years of age seem to have the greatest reservations, with only 14% feeling it’s acceptable. 12 years old was the average reported age parents have or would consider giving a child a smartphone with a data plan.


In 2015, ABC reported that 6 years is the average age children receive a cell phone in the US, though it didn’t specify whether a data plan was included. In a more recent study, Nielsen reported 31% of kids receive a smartphone with access to data at 8-9 years old and 45% between 10-12 years of age. While many are campaigning to “Wait until 8th” grade, plenty of kids are receiving one closer to 8 years of age.


There are more ways to monitor and limit screen usage these days and children are certainly asking for the technology at younger ages. Yet those who know a lot about technology, have decided to wait. Just ask Bill Gates, whose own children did not receive phones until they were 14.


Weigh in and tell us about your experiences. Will your kids be closer to 8 years or 8th grade when they get their first smartphone? Or do you regret your past decision either way? Tell us what you learned.


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