Grandpa and I gave our 3 year old granddaughter her first cell phone the other day. No, it does not have cell service, but she can take pictures, play with the ring tones, and it lights up and stuff when she pushes the buttons. And yes, we do know that if she pushes the right buttons, she could possibly reach 911 emergency, but she is only allowed to have it at our house, with us.
Audryna with her cell phone, she had so much fun taking pictures of everyone! Though she could not understand why touching the screen did NOTHING...yeah, her parents have smart phones, lol.
Besides being grandparents to 5 amazing children, I run a small in home childcare, and provide a lot of hands on things for the children to do pretend play with, including traditional toy telephones, toy cell phones, as well as old, discarded cell phones that have no batteries in them.
Yes, that is a tv remote control on the right, they love those too!
But, in reality, the toy phones that look like the old fashioned house phones, do not seem like actual telephones to this generation of children. Even our house phone is strange to the children, as they cannot understand why we cannot take pictures with them.
My daughter brought this question up recently, being serious about when it should happen...and I honestly did not know a good answer, other than, when the child is going to need the ability to reach you or emergency services because you are not right there with them. I gave examples of dropping a child off for a sport practice, or a friends house when you aren't going to be staying. But in all reality, I never dropped my children off, I stayed, and the same goes for my daughter and son in law. So, I felt the need to look around online to find some answers.
These were the best articles I found on the subject while searching, I am sure a lot of people have their own opinions, and reasonings. I personally think its a case by case choice.
Our 18 month old granddaughter, Lexcyee