General Question

jca's avatar

In the area you live in, how old are teens when the majority have (or seem to have) their own cell phones?

Asked by jca (35893points) September 5th, 2011

When answering the question, can you also specify if the area you live in is rural, agricultural, suburban, affluent, whatever?

I am curious about this because I live in a relatively affluent area where all teens have cell phones and can be seen texting 24/7. Yesterday, I went to a fair in upstate NY (about an hour from where I live) and I saw almost no teens on phones or texting.

Toward the end, I was near the exit and I heard a kid ask another kid if he knew where someone’s dad was, and he said he was getting a ride from him and needed to find him. I was thinking that in the area where I live, he’d have a cell phone and be calling or texting the friend to meet up. That combined with the fact that I saw almost no teens texting or talking on cells made me think that in that area, most probably don’t have them. It was an area that is largely agricultural, with low per capita income.

It made me curious about this topic, and I looked up the per capita income in my county (approx. $63,000 which is the 8th highest in the country) and the per capita income in the county where the fair was (Columbia County NY, per capita income approx $22,000 = big diff between counties).

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18 Answers

Carly's avatar

Back in California I live in a lower to middle class suburban city in the east bay area. Most kids in high school, and some kids in middle school tend to have cell phones, but not all of them have unlimited texting plans, so not all of them are texting 24/7. I noticed this made a big difference when I had a cell phone too; if I could only use my cell phone for calls, you’d never see me with it, but if my parents gave me so many texts a month, I’d use them up easily.

So I guess its not really a matter of who has enough money for a cell phone, but more what kind of a plan you have. I’ve seen homeless people with track phones, and the majority of teens that live in the rural town I live in now all seem to at least own phones – just in case of an emergency. I have the feeling they don’t text as much not only because most can’t afford plans, but also because their parents have more conservative values and don’t want to see their kids tuned into technology all them time. These are parents who also don’t want their kids to read a book or watch TV when their eating dinner, which really isn’t part of class or even political agenda, but they’re the people I usually come upon in rural Illinois rather than suburban California.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Seems like kids are getting cell phones around 8 or 9 years old, here. Weird.

emeraldisles's avatar

I remember seeing kids with phones back in the 5 th grade which was strange.

Cruiser's avatar

I don’t call them cell phones anymore as phones imply talking….90% of what my kids use these devices for is texting. And as far as I can tell all the kids 10 and older have them. Cell phone providers are not idiots and have put together packages where essentially kids phones and usage are free.

digitalimpression's avatar

Suburban. Around 14.

The only thing I’ve found to be true is that the actual number of cell phones in any given area is indirectly proportional to how happy I am to be there.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I live in a farm town thats loaded with a bunch of rich white kids. Its not teens with cell phones its elementary school kids with phones here.

I didnt get my first cell till I was 18 and thats because my parents made me since I was now driving.

Blueroses's avatar

My city is 100k, median income 46k. It’s a geographcally large town for the population with most residential areas being pretty far from centrally located junior and senior high schools. Add a lack of good public transportation systems to the fact that most kids have at least one extracurricular activity (sports, music, drama) and you you see the majority of kids getting cells in seventh grade.

Of course, it’s just to call for rides or check in at home… Yeah. Teens are social creatures and texting is the new “note passing”.

gailcalled's avatar

Rural. Everyone in the middle school, it seems. The school is next to the library where the kids hang out. They sit on the steps or in the reading rooms and text away to the kid sitting 12” from them.

Rural, whole range of socio-economics.

Your_Majesty's avatar

I live in Indonesia. At least every 10 Yo city kids have their own cellphone. I don’t know why but it has been a trend since the beginning of the new millennia. Most kids seem to use only Blackberry.

zenvelo's avatar

I am in an affluent suburb in the east bay area of San Francisco, most kids get their phones in 5th or 6th grade. My daughter got hers in 5th grade to be able to call home after her mom and I separated.

Most of the kids now have smart phones of one type or another.

Berserker's avatar

I live in a economically struggling small town, forty five minutes away from MontrĂ©al. Not every teen seems to have a cell, however, a great part of them do. I’d say that the youngest ones I’ve seen who own one are about 14, 15. There’s actually a lot more adults that own one than teens, and I see adults messing with cells a lot more.

Hibernate's avatar

Mixed zone here but a cell phone is usually given to a kid at a young age. Not for the perks but because it’s useful.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Most kids I’ve known have gotten cell phone in Jr High, the rationale being that’s about the time they started having many extracurricular activities and the phone was supposed to be more for safety/keeping in contact with home than what it truly ended up being, an expensive plug-in to their friends.

wilma's avatar

Rural area with many low income folks. The median income is probably around $35,000 a year for a family.
Many (certainly not all) kids get a cell phone in middle school. I think it’s mostly for the convenience of the parents, to keep in touch with their children. It is easier when picking them up from practice or work, or other activities.


About 13 or 14 generally, though I’ve seen kids as young as 10 or 9 with cell phones. Too young, in my opinion, to have their own cell phone.

YARNLADY's avatar

Here in the capital city of California, they seem to start with preteens, perhaps middle school.

I seldom see children younger than that without their parents, and the young ones don’t carry cell phones.

downtide's avatar

I got my daughter a cellphone when she was 12, which was the age at which she was travelling to school on her own, and stopping at friends’ houses for tea and whatnot. I wanted to be able to contact her, and also for her to let me know if she was going somewhere after school, to let me know. She didn’t have a texting plan until later though.

I think it’s a typical age around here (low income urban area, most kids using public transport by that age).

SarasWhimsy's avatar

I live in a rural area that’s a county seat. We have the richest and poorest of the county – and everyone in between. I have yet to see a kid over 12 without a cell phone. Many younger kids have them here as well. I see the downside to it, but I also the practical side. We do not have public transportation here and our school district covers about 10 townships and many many miles. With many single parents and both parents working, cell phones can be crucial for kids to keep their parents in the know as to where they are after school.

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