11 year olds still in primary school DO NOT NEED SMARTPHONES

Yes, I have put that last bit in capitals. Yes, I am shouty about it. 

My tweenager has recently started to hint (ie whine a lot, at random times when she thinks her parents are vulnerable!) that she would like an iPhone. Her reason being that some of her peers in her class, have smartphones and the kids above her in year 6, which she will be entering in the autumn, have them. Actually, apparently “EVERYONE has got one” is what I am told. 

Of course, I don’t believe for an instant that everyone but her has a smart phone, and I have spoken to a few people who have told me that their kids don’t. I do remember similar conversations with my own mother, about wanting a Walkman, when I didn’t have one but a few of my peers did. I did eventually get one. Yes, I am THAT old. 

Anyway, in my digging around, I found out that in fact, a fair number of kids her age, at her school do have smart phones and they have them at school. 

This horrifies me. These are 10 & 11 year olds. They DON’T need them. I am sorry if this offends you, but I don’t understand why a child of that age needs a device like that, and has to use them. 

I get that some of the children in year 5 and 6 are walking themselves home alone and their parents may want to be able to communicate with them, to make sure they are leaving school and going where they should, but other than that, no child of that age needs to be using a smart phone. 

Here is where I will be honest with you. Our tweenager has an iPod. It’s only wifi enabled and she uses it to play games, watch stuff (because she doesn’t want to be watching things her little brother is watching) and she does use it to message her dad and I. She cannot use it out of the house, and no one has her contact details so she can’t use it for external communication. We have some pretty rigid rules around it’s usage, and what she can and can’t access (let’s just say her Dad is an internet security geek, and I currently can’t even buy knickers from Marks & Spencer’s using our wifi, without entering a password, it’s locked down so tight) and she doesn’t get to take it to school with her. It’s a fun gadget that has to be monitored, she can’t access the internet on it, and she can’t download anything without it coming via my own phone, so I can see exactly what she has access to. We are even so boring as to not allow her to use YouTube on it. It is different from a full on smart phone though because she can’t make calls, or message anyone. It is not network enabled for on a phone service. She cannot be contacted from the outside world on it, and we plan to keep it that way. It mostly stays at home. 

Because at not quite 11, she doesn’t need a phone. She doesn’t need to be using a phone and what it functions as. Why does any child of that age need a fully functioning phone? Who are they calling and communicating with? Why do they need to be walking out of school and straight onto their phones (which is what I see daily at the gates of our school) what would she be missing, if she had a phone she needs to check?

I don’t get it, and she won’t be getting one any time soon. 

Maybe I am boring, and old fashioned and mean. Maybe I don’t get it. Maybe kids her age really DO need smart phones. 

However, she won’t be getting one. Not for a LONG time. When she starts secondary school and has to get herself there and back on the bus, she will be getting a basic phone that sends messages and calls. Apart from anything else, smart phones are not cheap. I sat at a bus stop last week watching a group of kids all with phones, one got dropped and the screen smashed, and at least two others had phones that were damaged. Another was complaining theirs didn’t work properly because it had got wet. I am not spending money on expensive gadgets for my pre teen. 

So, she can whine and hint. I am not falling for it. But I do wonder why it seems necessary for kids of her age to actually have phones. Who are they calling? What are they doing with them? Who is paying for it? 

Oh and social media? Well, that’s not happening until she leaves home… 😉

Stock image, used with permission

If your tweenager has a fully functioning phone, they use regularly, I would love to know how you deal with the access they have and how much they use it and why they need it? 

After the Playground
Posted in Everything else.


  1. My girl is 9. She’s going into YR6 in September and will be getting a phone for her birthday over the holidays but it will be a basic one, not a smartphone and it will have no internet. I have spied one for just over £10 which will do her. I am only getting her one because she will be walking to and from school herself.
    My teen has a smartphone and hardly uses it. lol

  2. Her iPod is capable of doing the EXACT same things as an iPhone. Free apps can be installed for it to act as a phone, text messaging, etc. Whatever trouble she can get into with an iPhone is the same with an iPod, iPad, etc. Kids are smart enough to override whatever parental guidelines are put in place, so unless you’re looking over her shoulder while she’s using it, she can do the same as with a phone. While I’m in agreement with you that kids generally don’t need phones at this age (at least not ones that cost hundreds of dollars), their mp3 players and tablets can certainly function the same.

    • At the moment she can’t override anything because the account she has is linked directly to mine. She can’t even buy in game stuff without it coming up on my phone and it needs two passwords to allow her to add it, which she doesn’t know and my fingerprint to allow it. Whilst kids are smart, parents have to be smarter, frankly and need to be on top of what their kids can access. We are in no way complacent, about it.

    • Parents need to be smarter than their kids. The attitude of “kids can figure out ways to override things” is frankly lazy. We have it set up so that she currently cannot access anything without two passwords and my fingerprint, because I know kids are smart but I intend to remain in control for a long time over what she can access. And iPod cannot be used outside of wifi so she cannot use it for a lot if she doesn’t have access to wifi, so it’s not exactly like a phone.

  3. Both our kids didn’t get a phone until they were leaving year 6. They didn’t need one and no amount of whining was going to change that. They’re now 15 & 17 and have only got smartphones in the least few years. They are both NEVER off them so you are right to hold off for as long as possible… #TweensTeensBeyond

  4. I’m so with you. My daughter is also about to enter year 6 and I’ve told her specifically that there is no way on earth she will be getting a phone. I taught in year 6 last year, and maybe 2 or 3 kids had a phone who were travelling a bit further to get home. But my friend who’s child is in year 6 now says it’s all gone up a gear and they all have phones, and they’re all on instagram. Has the world gone mad?! I see them coming out of school, not looking where they’re going as they’re glued to their screens. Social media is a scary enough world which they will inevitably embrace at some point soon but in year 6… no way. #TweensTeensBeyond

  5. Both my children had a phone when they moved to secondary school and were travelling alone, but they were the nokia ones not smartphones. Nowadays everyone seems to have a smartphone as the deals are so good and they clearly combine so many uses like games and music that make the nintendos and ipods defunct almost. I featured a guest post on my blog a couple of weeks ago by a rheumatologist who has started a company called No Phone Zone to raise awareness of smartphone overuse syndrome amongst our young children. Take a read, there are some interesting facts and figures and some alarming ones too. Thanks for linking Karen. #TweensTeensBeyond

  6. The general thoughts of parents in my eldest’s year was that they got them either for Christmas or birthday (which ever came later) during year 6. I, like you, wasn’t keen on spending out on anything expensive so we bought a new case for an old phone we had from an upgrade and she’s on my plan with no internet (only wifi)- actually one of the cheapest birthday presents ever!! TBH she hardly uses it ATM but I’m thinking that will change once she goes up to secondary school. I will be strict on social media too. #TweensTeensBeyond

  7. Yep this issue shows no signs of going away. My daughter is 11 and walks to school alone and yes she has a phone. I need her to have one otherwise i just get too anxious about where she is. Yes, it is a smartphone because she got my old one when I had an upgrade so it cost nothing. I do completely understand what you are saying and with another two older teen daughters the contract fees alone cost me a fortune! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

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