Call Me, Baby: Why Do so Many 5-Year-Olds Have Their Own Cell Phones?

1 in 10 five-year-olds in the UK have a mobile phone.

There are two ways to look at this stat: 90% of kids are still being kids, 10% of parents are freaking out and connecting kids way too early.

My boys, ages 6 and 3, have "their own" phone. It's my old iPhone 3 loaded with games and disconnected from any network. On long trips they'll get to thumb through some apps, or watch one of their favorite shows in the back seat. It's my compromise on not getting screens put in our vehicle.

Next week my son will enter Grade 1, and there are many things I'm not looking forward to. Most of my fears revolve around the parenting practices of others. You can set all the rules and boundaries that you want for your kids, but their peers have a real effect on the agenda - and the older they get, the more influential friends become. Zacharie has started to compare his stock in life with friends, wishing we lived in the country because "then we'd be rich." Two years ago he didn't notice the difference.

Related: The 32 most ridiculous kids toys ever made (what were they thinking?!)

For many parents, the type of envy they will face is the "I want a phone because [fill in name of kid] has a phone." That conversation will happen around the time they're 11 - the average age when kids get their own mobile. Actually, you'll be lucky if you can hold out that long before you have that chat. A 2011 study found 20% of third graders are packing. And the age is getting younger.

To be fair, costs of mobility are cheaper across the pond, so that probably explains why kids are getting tech at younger ages, but my boys have been familiar with the swipe-to-unlock function since before they could walk. By the time my 6-year-old is in Grade 3, will the average be down from age 11 to age 9?

Most likely. Ugh.

It is this ever decreasing age of connection that is forcing elementary schools to draft official policies on phones in the classroom. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has now mandated that devices like phones "be stored and turned off during the instructional day unless their use is directly authorized by staff."

Is your back-to-school shopping including a new phone for your kid? How are you handling the "I want my own phone?" question at your place?

-By Buzz Bishop

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