Kids and Phones: What’s the Right Call?

What’s the right time to give a kid their own cell phone? When they start going places independently? When they reach a certain age? When they’re capable of paying for it?

More to the point: can there ever be a right time to entrust a $500 device to a guy who can’t even keep track of his water bottle/gym clothes/day planner?

I realize Justin’s organizational challenges are more than a character flaw; they’re part and parcel of having Asperger’s. His brain tends to misfire when it comes to managing resources in order to achieve a goal. (The irony is that he spends much of his free time making lists. Go figure.)

That doesn’t mean he’s completely irresponsible. I trust him to walk to and from school, to stay home alone, even to cook a simple meal. But I’m not sure I could ever trust him not to lose an item in his possession.

To be fair, it’s not just him. My older brother never leaves the house without coming back at least once for something he forgot, routinely buys two pairs of glasses at a time because he knows he’ll lose them, and cannot use his Apple TV device because he can’t find the remote. Yet he somehow became the director of supply chain management for a multinational company. So there is hope.

But back to the phone issue. Brayden recently mentioned some of the older kids at school have phones, and I said getting a phone depends on a combination of being old enough and being responsible enough. He thought about that for a second, then announced, “I’ll probably be less responsible when I get older, so you better give it to me now.”