At younger and younger ages, parents everywhere are hearing the siren call of "but ALL my friends already HAVE a phone!!!" Deciding what age will be appropriate for your children is completely dependent on the child. My 7-year-old has a phone, but my 14-year-old nephew should definitely NOT have one (or at least one that doesn't break or get lost so easily). So what are the factors that should go into deciding if your child is ready for a cell phone? Here's a hint, it's not because "ALL of the friends already have one!"
They can be trusted at home by themselves
One of the best signals a child is ready for a cell phone is if they have reached an age that you feel they can be left at home by themselves. This is especially true if you don't have a landline, as most people do not these days. When they are home by themselves, you still want them to be able to contact you for questions or emergencies.
They have extracurricular activities
My daughter is in softball, and volleyball, and swim, and the school play... sometimes these activities end early, sometimes they run late. It's nice that she can contact us to pick her up when she is done with the activity.
You have a split family
In the case where kids spend some time with one parent and some time with the other, having a cell phone is a great idea. This allows them to contact the other parent for any reason. It's nice for the kids to feel more in control of their situation by having access to either parent at any time.
They have shown they can take care of their things
This is probably one of the biggest factors in deciding if your child should have a cell phone. If they have shown that they can put their toys away, keep their room clean, take care of a pet, or anything else that can show responsibility a cell phone can be next on the list of responsibilities. They need to be aware that as soon as they show they are NOT taking care of their phone, it can and WILL be taken away!
As a parent, I will say, it's really nice being able to get a hold of your kids wherever they are. You don't have to text all of your kids' friends' parents to tell your child it's time to come home for dinner, and that's one of the best feelings in the world!