Pretty much ever since cell phones first hit the market, kids have thought that it would be cool to own one. After all, the idea that you could talk to your BFF any time and from anywhere is appealing to young folks. Like so many other technologies, cell phones promise a distraction to kids, and offer them something to do when theyâ€™re not being entertained by television or video games.
Just because kids ask for something, however, doesnâ€™t mean they get it. For years, thatâ€™s been the case with cell phones. Kids as young as 8 or 10 sit on Santaâ€™s lap, and parents cringe when their tot asks for the latest iPhone or Blackberry. As recent as 2004, less than one in five 12 year-olds had a cell phone, suggesting that Mom and Dad have more say over what little Johnny gets than what Santa does. After all, theyâ€™re the ones that have to pay the monthly bill.
Thatâ€™s changed dramatically, however. In 2009, around 60 percent â€“ or three in five â€“ kids aged 12 or younger had cell phones. Research from the Pew Center’s Internet & American Life Project suggests that most kids get their cell phone by the age of 12 or 13.
Dropping land lines
One of the most common reasons that parents are more open to cell phones for their young children is the trend toward dropping land line telephones. If a household doesnâ€™t have one centralized number to call, it stands to reason that the individuals in that household might have their own lines, even if theyâ€™re children.
Big dangers for parents
One of the biggest concerns that parents have had over the years has been the idea of cost. If a child spends hours on a cell phone or sends thousands of text messages or downloads gigabytes of data, parents can find themselves on the hood for massive cell phone bills. Fortunately, technology has kept pace and most cell phone providers now offer parental control options that will let parents limit just how much their kids text, talk and download.
A connected generation
Even more interesting in this trend is the overall idea that kids today are much more connected than in generations past. With the growth of social networking sites and even online gaming communities aimed specifically at young children, the idea of each person in a household having their own cell phone is likely to become a long-term trend.