How young is too young for an iPhone?

“It’s not easy being a parent. Balancing your child’s wants and needs with what you feel is best for them can be tricky,” Simon Hill writes for Digital Trends. “A particularly thorny issue for today’s parents is the question of when to give your child a smartphone. Is there a right age? How do you know that your child is ready to own a smartphone? What can you do to mitigate the dangers and how should you handle the process?”

“Virtually every kid wants a smartphone. The peer pressure to own one is huge. But smartphones are powerful devices that offer access to every corner of the internet, the ability to upload video and photos of yourself, and an easy way to communicate with anyone,” Hill writes. “They have great potential to enrich lives, but they can also cause serious problems, even for adults, never mind for children with less impulse control.”

Hill writes, “The average age for a child to get their first smartphone is currently 10.3 years according to the recent Influence Central report, Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today’s Digital Natives.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It depends on the kid.


  1. Personally, I’d wait until the kid is in college, or at least in high school. The iPhone is something to take great responsibility in. If I had a kid, and he or she is in elementary or middle school, he or she can settle with an Android for the time being. I’m not spending a pretty penny on anything as good as the iPhone until I’m sure that my kid will take good care of it.

      1. It’s not child abuse. It’s proper parenting. Besides, I’m childfree anyway, so I wouldn’t have to worry about stuff like this in the first place. I’m old school, and I believe in raising kids properly. 90% of what my parents did to me would be considered “child abuse” nowadays because of the whole political correctness movement these days.

        1. I’m so thankful for that idea of “polital correctness”. I don’t have to take in any new ideas for the rest of my life… I just call it “politically correct”.

        2. There is absolutely no way I would ever even think of letting my child use an Android phone! The security risks are far too great, not to mention the amount of private data Google sucks up from an Android user.

          With an Android, there is no way to control what your child downloads, which apps (s)he uses, what content she can browse online. You have to buy some parental control app in order to set it up, and even then, there is a way for a clever child to circumvent it. And there are myriad of ways to download all sorts of questionable apps from questionable sources (and teenagers are usually the first to figure this out).

          With iPhone, parental control is built in. I can restrict type of content, I can disable App Store (and only let him/her download what I allow), and there is absolutely no way (s)he can circumvent any of those restrictions. And even if I don’t put up ANY restrictions, App Store is the only source for apps, and we know that is significantly more secure than Google’s Play Store, not to mention all other alternative sources.

          Many people believe that they will get a better phone if they get a $100 new Huawei (or Meizu, or Blu, or even LG) than a 4-year old used iPhone 5. That is actually wrong; most of the $100 new Android runs Jellybean (4-year old OS), or at best Kitkat (for your info, Lollypop and Marshmallow came out since), and the hardware is usually rather slow and crappy. A 4-year old iPhone 5 can still run the most recent iOS, and the only weak point may be a slightly worn-out battery.

          So, no, I would never ever consider letting a child use Android, unless they are supervised every minute they use their phone.

      1. If I ever have kids (and I won’t, so this whole thing is moot anyway) I will make sure they earn it, and not spoil them bad. I got my first Mac when I was a freshman in High School, and that is how I will treat my hypothetical kids. Since I won’t have kids, I won’t have to worry about giving them that Ol’ Skool treatmeant that I had in the 1980s.

  2. Both my kids didn’t get phones until middle school, when they were old enough that we wanted to still reach them at any moment, but they needed to get away from us and have a life with friends. They had the cheapest phone we could find, that was also smartish. The LG800G. It was still a feature phone but also had a 3.2″ touch screen. This only goes so far. By 10th grade, I gave my oldest our 2 yr old iPhone 5, but he had to give something up for it. The following year his 5 went to our youngest, in 8th grade, who also had to give something for it. So everyone has an iPhone, parental controls are on and they can’t download apps without permission, free or not. We are bumping phones down again this year so my oldest will now have the 6 Plus.

    The rules are, if they break it, they have to pay for it. Age at this point isn’t the biggest factor. It’s how they behave with it and use it. Sometimes I have to take them away. Smartphones are distracting, and we all have to live with this and learn to adapt – kids and adlults alike.

  3. My children are both 6 years old. I have given my children iPads and iPhones. I make sure their time is strictly monitored. My children use them as learning tools. My son has autism and they are excellent in helping him identifying emotions. They also help raise his self-esteem and encourage him in his speech. iPads and iPhones are excellent if paired with proper parental interaction.

  4. A-?????????? Are you fucking kidding me??????????

    When you douple the share price in 5 years and pay tens of billions of taxes plus and dividents. Shit. If Tim Cook gets a god damn A- so who the fuck gets an A?

  5. FIrst off, the monetary value of the phone is really irrelevant. It can cost $50, or $500, that doesn’t matter. A child needs to have a valid reason before I let her have a smartphone, and once that reason exists, she must actually earn the privilege. My older (16) has had a mobile phone since 6th grade (first year she started going to school by herself). At first, it was a simplest Samsung, which allowed her to make calls and text. Since then, she graduated to a slightly more elaborate Samsung, with a slide-out keyboard, and currently, a touch-screen LG, also with a slide-out keyboard (same Golum above mentioned). Right now, I am ready to graduate her to an iPhone (she is starting 3rd year of high school), but she needs to earn it with the expected school performance (and she knows this). She will likely get a SE (or current equivalent) for Christmas, and it will be with parental controls (no app downloading without my approval).

    My younger daughter (10) doesn’t yet have a phone. She will likely start going to school by herself this year, and she will get a simple feature phone when this happens. Realistically, I think she will be ready for an iPhone by high school, if she earns the privilege.

    The key to the teen iPhone ownership is parental controls. This feature is a godsend and allows for gradual introduction into the responsible smartphone ownership.

    I need to mention that in my older daughter’s class, she is currently one of the about five (out of about 100 in the entire class) without a smartphone (about 80 – 90 iPhones, and half a dozen Androids). In the 10-year old’s generation, about a third has phones, mostly iPhones (already!!!). I have no intention letting her have it before high school. Not because she will lose it, or break it; because she isn’t mature enough to control and manage her usage.

  6. The article actually provides some good advice. Establishing rules of use makes the phone ownership much easier to manage. Things such as “No phone use while walking, while talking to adults, while in the dining room” with special stress on street traffic, classroom, dinner, etc, they help develop proper social skills and self-control with respect to the phone usage. Most adult smartphone owners know of their addictive properties, and teens get sucked in much more easily. Enforcing these rules help them learn to resist the addiction and develop healthy usage habits.

  7. Thoughts…

    Elementary school: Get them a freebie stupid phone with parental control and max out the parental control. No exceptions.

    Middle school: Danger age. Expect stupid, irresponsible, peer herding, confusion. Clearly, the pressure within the current youth culture is to have a smartphone or be a dork. But even with the best of kids, max out the parental control and be obvious and clear about it. No subversive surveillance. Instead, show the kid exactly what are the restrictions and point out that they are not going to change until high school, no matter what.

    High school age: Yes, smartphone for sure. But as a parent, I’d definitely be using some level of parental control over the device. Limit purchases, absolutely. Force parental scrutiny of the kid’s activities but have consultations with the kid about the level of scrutiny as well as feedback from the kid about both their opinion of the scrutiny and of their behavior with the device. Make it clear that the ability to scrutinize will remain until college. But also point out that scrutiny, despite parental ability, will not be used unless the kid’s other behavior warrants it. It’s a sort of conditional independence. Get ready for full personal responsibility.

    College age: Turn off the parental controls. They’re on their own making their own mistakes. Teaching lessons from the parents have ended. No, you don’t want to know what they do with their smartphone. Just hid your eyes and let them make their mistakes and pick themselves up again and learn.

    Feedback welcome.

    1. Good philosophy here, I think the devil in the details would be type of control (app usage times? Restrict certain apps?) but the overall plan is spot on I think (years of working with teens and kids of my own.)

    2. A parent’s duty never retires. I will do everything I can for as long as I can to help my kids avoid the pitfalls of pornography and other electronic addictions. I love them too much to standby while porn saps their motivations and emotional sensitivity.

      As long as I own the phone and pay the plan I will expect accountability from my children for what they do on those phones.

  8. As soon as they are old enough to go places without you. The ability of a parent to know where your child is is a godsend for parents.

    What kind of access they get to the internet and camera is another question. One that can be managed.

    Also, be upfront with your kid that you can track them and that is it for their safety.

  9. For me, the question is with or without telco service.

    M Daughter has been using an iPad since she was 6 months.

    We don’t have TV or cable. All “entertainment” is screened and she loves her puzzles, colouring, memory games, English, math, and her brillkids apps.

    YouTube is a big part of her life being screened to make sure, as much as possible, she sees age appropriate content.

    There is more than enough to keep her busy.

    Interestingly, elementary/primary school Teachers here deliver content and class assignments via WhatsApp channels and schools apps.

    My girl is 3 years old today. Her iPad is the ipad I bought before she was born. When will she get her own iphone? That is a huge question that my Wife and I have been contemplating.

    I suspect we will need to get her one by 6 years old (1st grade).

    We shall see.

    Parents: do not be afraid of parental controls. Keeping your child safe from inappropriate content is not censorship, it’s making sure child development progresses properly. And safe from predators .

  10. You people go on like iPhones are the best things. The best company is Samsung android is better check apple in 2016 they have dropped because they aren’t stable. A lot of you may not even know android or iOS like that you don’t know the specs(specifications) of your device right now but because iPhone expensive you think it’s great. Go learn a few things on devices before bringing any arguments.

    1. You sound like a ten year old.

      Samsung may have decent hardware, but the comparison between iPhone and any android is pointless. It would be seriously irresponsible to give an android to a child, with all the security problems, malware, lack of any control over app installation, privacy issues…. It can have the fastest processor, the best camera, highest RAM, and that wouldn’t really matter when you can’t ensure safety of your child and the content (s)he can get on that phone.

  11. You people go on like iPhones are the best things. The best company is Samsung android is better check apple in 2016 they have dropped because they aren’t stable. A lot of you may not even know android or iOS like that you don’t know the specs(specifications) of your device right now but because iPhone expensive you think it’s great. Go learn a few things on devices before bringing any arguments.

  12. Get your kid an iPod Touch and install a VoIP application on it to allow incoming phone calls if you see the need. Any number of apps will do the job- I can personally reccomend TruPhone which is free but offers a fixed incoming number and a huge bundle of minutes for something like $50 a year.

    So equipped, your kid can use almost any iPhone app, do FaceTime, text plus make and recieve phone calls anywhere they have WiFi. Most schools, churches, community centers, malls, big box stores, fast food outlets, libraries, airports, train stations and public buildings have free WiFi. At home, they have a phone of their own and in the car can use a hotspot or piggyback on your cell phone.

    The earbuds that ship with the iPhone will work with an iPod touch as will Bluetooth headsets for privacy.

    It is a good way to give your kid a phone without the phone bill. An iPod touch starts at $200.

    1. Wouldn’t it be better then to simply get an iPhone? What you are describing is quite a hassle, and the work-around isn’t quite universal. If anyone in the kid’s circle has an Android (or other non-iOS device), iMessage can’t be used for text messaging, nor can FaceTime.

      And the most important feature of the iPhone for a child (Find My Friends) is of limited use when the child is out of WiFi range (and even with WiFi, it can be quite imprecise).

      And $200 gets you a pristine-quality used iPhone 5S, which is better than any new Android of same value. And an additional line on a family plan is rarely more than $20 per month, which is practically nothing for an average iPhone owner.

    2. I basically did that, but with old iPhone 4 units that were not set up on cell plans. So they could get in touch anywhere there was open wifi (which isn’t difficult to find), and if they needed 911 they could dial it (phone ALWAYS work to dial 911).

      This past week, they graduated to iPhone 5c’s.

  13. No smartphones until you can buy your own. My children would only get a feature phone to make calls and send text messages. They get a smartphone when they can save up enough money to get a smartphone without a contract. They have to earn what they want. I only provide what is needed such as clothes, food, shelter, and a way to communicate to get/receive help.

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