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12/20: At What Age Should Children Have Cell Phones?


12/20: At What Age Should Children Have Cell Phones?

If the youngster in your life is begging you for a cell phone this holiday season, try this one on for size.  The average age Americans believe is appropriate for a child to acquire his or her first cell phone is approximately 14 years old.



Regardless of age, region, gender, or whether one has children or not, there is consensus on this question.

A plurality of U.S. adults — 43% — think 15 to 18 years old is the appropriate age for a child to begin carrying a cell phone.

Table: Age of First Cell Phone (Average)
Table: Age of First Cell Phone

Marist Poll Methodology

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  1. TechiBhai

    November 11, 2018 at 11:35 PM

    There isn’t a single “right age.”

    Very much depends on the kid’s personality and the independence they have.

    You must be mature enough to understand what happens, the dangers, the risks, but the benefits and advantages too. I got my first smartphone at 18

  2. Jesus Mccree

    August 24, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    i think we need to allow mobile devices right whenever we start allowing our to have night outs at their friend’s houses.

  3. Southern Cell

    April 7, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    This is a tricky question. Kids today are definitely more tech savvy that us adults. So, five year olds could have a cell phone. I’ve also always said a phone=freedom. If you don’t know where your kids are going to be – give them a phone. If you know where they are, then don’t.

  4. Parker Green

    September 7, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Well I have a sixteen year old that learned how to use mobile bill pay from But that’s some complicated stuff but I would say around 13 – 14 years old.

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  7. GadgetSavy

    May 16, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    I think it all depends on the age we are living in. If you ask this question 10 years ago, the answer would have been “Kids can’t use cell phone”.

    But these days, the way technology is growing and the phones are becoming cheaper and cheaper and other child predators are growing as well. I think we should allow cell phones right when we start allowing our kids to have night outs at their friend’s houses.

  8. Jada

    February 21, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    My 9 year old carries a pay per use phone for emergencies. It gives us peace of mind that he can reach us whenever he needs to and we don’t have a huge phone bill since it’s pay per use. On the other hand, my 14 year old has a cell phone with unlimited text and we just added her to our plan because she uses her cell phone all the time.

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