AT&T Mobile Safety for Kids

Last week I attended a mobile safety webinar hosted by AT&T.  As we read and listened to the presentation, geared toward parents of children ages 8-11, I was fascinated by the chat stream of moms from all over the country.  Mostly, I was shocked that so many children have phones.  Mobile phones.  Nice mobile phones.  Smart phones.  Kids have smart phones!

In a survey of 1,000 parents, AT&T found out that the average age for a child to get his first phone is 12.  Wow.  My oldest is 9 and, well, her dad doesn’t have a mobile phone at all and I only have a pre-paid flip phone, so no… she won’t be getting her own phone any time soon. (Maybe I’ll change my mind when she’s 12?  Never say never, but… I doubt it.)

Here’s another one for ya.  34% of children ages 12-14 who have a mobile phone have a smartphone!  (That completely blew me away.)

Likely because of where we live, and the fact that I’m home most of the time and have no reason to ditch our landline, I see no reason for our daughter to have a mobile phone until she is driving.    My situation, though,  is not yours.  My location is not yours.  My circumstances are not yours.  There are many valid reasons why your family may use cell phones more than we do, and I’m not here to argue if your child needs a phone.  I just want them to be safe!

What parents are concerned about in their kids’ use of mobile phones:

  • 89% are worried about texting and driving
  • 67% are concerned about bullying text messages
  • 69% are concerned about sexually suggestive messages
  • 77% are worried about their kids receiving calls from unknown numbers.

And here’s what’s really happening, according to kids:

  • Over HALF have been in a car with someone who was texting and driving
  • Over 1 in 5 have received a mean text message
  • Almost half have a friend who received a sexual picture or message
  • 69% have received a call from an unknown number.

Wow.  I’d say parents are right on target with what they worry about!

AT&T has put together a variety of resources to help parents. From learning what other families are doing through videos, or downloadable tip sheets, the wireless safety website has a wealth of information available to anyone who is interested.

For kids my daughter’s age, the concerns obviously don’t have anything to do with driving.  It’s more about phone usage and addiction.  Who would have thought 20 years ago that we’d be worried about our children having an addiction to the phone?!  During our session, one mom asked,  “My son texts a lot and I can’t get him to stop. Any suggestions?”  My jaw dropped, and I wanted to answer, “Sure.  Take the phone away!  Give him a basic flip phone with no texting plan, to be used to call home in ’emergencies’.”  And if you didn’t know it before, now you know I’m a mean old lady!  😉  (But seriously, whatever happened to just taking the phone away if there is a problem?)

I did actually ask the group chat why the kids weren’t getting boring prepaid phones (mean old lady!), and one mom replied that it was only $10/month to add the child to their family plan, so that made sense for them.

Ah, yes.  I have much to learn, and it will be trial by fire, I’m sure, the next several years!  If mobile safety for kids is on your radar and a concern for you, you may want to join the AT&T Mobile Safety Twitter party on November 9 at 2p ET! The hashtag is #ATTMobileSafety

For those of you who have kids with phones, what are your biggest concerns?  How do you “police” the issues?  Any other mean old ladies out there?  🙂


Disclosure:  I’ve been compensated by AT&T and The Motherhood to share mobile safety concerns and tips.  All opinions remain, as always, my own.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.


  1. My kids are 2, so really don’t have to worry about the issue yet. However, I too, am probably a “mean old lady” because as far as I am concerned, if the priviledge (NOT THE RIGHT) to use a cell (or flip) phone is being abused, take the thing away. Just like with any other priviledge. It’s a no-brainer to me.

  2. My children know that “mean old lady” too! Both my children are 9, are homeschooled, and will not receive a cell phone anytime soon. I can see when they begin to drive how that could be essential. But as some states are looking at upping the driving age, it may be a while. And unless they have jobs to pay for all the bells and whistles, they will have a cheap, call only when an emergency type phone. If they need to speak to friends, the home phone works just fine, thank you. And as mama doesn’t plan on expanding her phone any time soon, texting for them will be out too! Check in with me in about 6-7 years to see how we do!! And I agree–the use of any phone (cell, home, etc.) should be a privilege, not a right. Take that phone away if it causes problems!

  3. Michelle H. says:

    My husband and I both have a prepaid cell phones, no bells and whistles, certainly no internet connection, and we don’t even text.

    My 6 year old went to a weeklong daycamp this summer and promptly starting asking for an “app phone”. I guess a lot of the kids at the camp had smart phones, and there was a free period each day after lunch where they could play games or whatever.

    None of my friend’s kids in elementary school have their own phones, so I have wondered whether we are all out of touch, or if the kids at his school have phones because the school is in a wealthy part of town? I am curious to see what your other readers responses are.

  4. We added my daughter to our plan this year as she entered middle school (11 yrs old), no smart phone, though, I don’t have one of those. We did it because she goes to a school about 10 miles away which is out of our school district in our large city. Because of that, she gets dropped off at a parking lot which is not in our neighborhood. She also is active at school with after school activiities and when the event is over the kids hang out outside in an area that is known to not be as safe as where we live. So we added her because of the safety is can help provide to her. However unlike many of her friends, she is not allowed to give out her number to her friends and we check. We would take the phone away. Of course she also doesn’t have a Facebook account, her email account is monitored and we only allow her to give out that to her closest friends. I teach middle school and see what these gadgets can do to kids this age. Every year we have students who have done everything Amy posted about. Personal opinion is that parents need to start restricting without limiting. We live in a technological world that you can’t hide from but you can help keep your kids safe.

  5. We got my son (14) a phone for Christmas last year. We take it away all the time when he misbehaves or texts when he shouldn’t. It was only $10 to add him, so cheaper than a prepaid plan usually.

    I was talking to some other women last week and they were all talking about how they were going to upgrade their phone as soon as they could (under contract) or how they just became eligible for an upgrade and what should they get, etc. They all have smart phones, I was thinking “why do you have to upgrade?” I think many times kids get their parents old phones and because upgrade so frequently, the kids have nice phones by default.

    • Ah, the upgrades. I didn’t even think about that, but I bet you’re right. Easy to “pass down” the (perfectly good) phones to the kids.

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