My kids are not allowed to have a cell phone until they get a driver's license. And then, they are not allowed a smart phone--just a low-tech flip phone.
A stopgap we use iPods with a free texting app. Those were great as long as there is an open free Wi-Fi like their school. However it also allows YouTube and other things, like game apps that are really big distractions.
Our oldest insisted he had to have a phone once he got a job but another thing is they can't get a contract if they're not 18. I ended up giving in because he was almost 18 but I'm not sure that was the best. My daughter is now almost 18 and leaving for college and I finally found her a cheap phone.
My 14-year-old doesn't. Yet. This summer he will get one. I think every other person we know lets there kids get one earlier. He says there are a few people that don't. But they miss out on a lot of social activity because no one will call anyone's home phone anymore.
We didn't get cell phones for our four children until they graduated from high school and went off to college.
My tweens have cell phones that aren't smart phones. After a babysitting job at a home with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) where the cable went out, and she had no way to contact anyone and no one had a way to contact her, I decided that jobs outside the home would be the tipping point for cell phone ownership. They can text and take pictures, but no email or web browsing. Works well for us.
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