Bottom line: getting a cell phone for your child is really a parental decision, although it is important that if you do get one, set rules in advance for the use of that phone. Your child needs to be old enough to understand those rules as well as the responsibility for following those rules and taking care of the phone, or you will find yourself needing to replace the lost or broken phone long before the warranty is up. Hopefully, tips like this will answer the call when it comes to helping you decide if and when your child needs a cell phone.
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9 FM and WCAX-TV Channel 3. Visit the First with Kids archives at www.vermontchildrens.org.