Too young? My 9 year old trains multiple days a week in gymnastics and dance. She also goes to frequent playdates and sleepovers. She is a very mature 9 year old. I have been considering getting her a cell phone so that she can contact us more easily. What do you think about cell phones and preteens?
In your situation I would get my kid a pay as you go phone. That way if practice got over early she can call. Playdate not going well, she can call. I would not let my child have it all the time at 9 (and didn't - my 3 shared one when they were younger but my teens carry them all the time) but I would have one for their use.
I always told the kids they'd get a cell phone when *I* needed them to have one. DD was 9 when we gave her one. She does a ton of theatre and while the youth theatres are more precise with their start and finish times, professional and community theatre aren't. She also started middle school at age 10 and there were always days she'd decide to stay for extra band rehearsal or basketball practice would get cancelled... saved me a lot of extra trips. We got our DS a phone when he turned 10 due to the same situation... activities and middle school. Frankly, I LOVE that my kids have phones. It gives me a great deal more freedom and it gives them more freedom too.
It hasn't been without issues but all issues that were easy enough to rectify. DD washed 2 phones when she was 11. She had to buy her own to replace the 2nd phone and she hasn't had an issue with that since. She went through a crazy texting period between 13 and 14 where we ended up having to take her phone away at night so she wouldn't stay up all night on it. However, that tapered off quickly after turning 14 and now at 15, she averages less than 300 texts (about half in and half out) a month and most of that to us. DS 11 hasn't had any issues at all and only uses the phone to contact family.
My own DD DID contact me during a sleepover once because she was feeling uncomfortable with the situation. It allowed her to talk to me without having to go through the mother (who we discovered was pretty imbalanced.) I always liked that my kids have a direct line to me in those situations.
Obviously, lay the ground rules, keep an eye on the phone bill for odd numbers coming in or out, revoke rights if it's being abused. At this age, it's more likely something you hand them when they need it as opposed to something they hang onto all day and night. I agree that pay-as-you-go phones are good ways to start... that or hand her one of your old phones that shares your minutes.
My older two kids are 9 and 11 (next month), and both have cell phones. It was only $9.99 to add each line to my plan, so cheaper than when DD had a prepaid phone. Well, we pay more now b/c they upgraded to smart phones.
Anyhow, no, I don't think 9 is too young. It's just a phone - and can be extremely helpful when kids are in activities or go over to friend's homes.
In your situation, it makes a lot of sense.
To help her be successful, I suggest you stay in charge of keeping it charged and deciding when she needs to carry it, where it stays when she isn't using it, etc. I vote for the "hand it to her when she needs it, take it back when she gets home" method.
At 9, neither of my kids did well holding on to small things all the time. At 13, one is still struggling to remember to plug her phone in at bed time to recharge it.
If I remember right, you have a second child. You could officially make it the "kid" phone, even though she will be mostly using for now. Might make things simpler later. My kids shared a phone for a couple years before we really needed them each to have their own.
but everything has pros and cons
My 9 year old twins share a phone. One of them does multiple days of gymnastics, like your dd, and he takes the phone on those days. And my other son has after school activities and snowboarding on weekends (without us) and he takes the phone then. We'll probably get another phone so they can each have one next year.
I feel a lot better knowing that I can get in touch with my kids, or they can call me when they need to.
I think the right time to get a kid a phone is when they're doing activities that have flexible schedules and they might need to reach you.
My 9 year old has a phone just for sports practices and being able to get a hold of us. We got it for her right when she turned 8. She doesn't use it other then to call if she needs something.
DD was about the same age (10 y.o., actually) when she got her own phone for similar reasons. It was just no longer convenient to pass messages through school secretaries, coaches, and activity centre receptionists. On occasion, it also proved to be unreliable and messages didn't get through in time and I could see how that could create real problems. Our lives got much easier when we could speak directly and keep each other updated.
We had a great offer on free phones and a family plan and I accepted it after a particularly frustrating incident with missed messages. Looking back, I wish I'd researched different phones and plans. I think a pay-as-you-go phone makes a lot of sense for that age.