What is a good age to introduce your child to the digital world?

By Lauren Freeman - Anchor

After school activities are in full swing, from sports, to dance and tutoring for some. Many students use this time of year to convince mom and dad they need a cellphone. 

It's a big decision for parents, and some often question the right time to get their child a phone.

Lauren Freeman has advice from some older teenagers, and an expert on the decision to introduce your child to the digital world.

18-year-old Trey Evans, a recent graduate of Memorial High School heading to St. Edwards in Austin for college, said he got his first phone in 7th grade.

"I thought that was a good age because it was right when I was old enough to know to make my own decisions and stuff," he said.

He said he got his first flip phone for protection. While his parents put parental controls on the device, he said he admits he made a few mistakes along the way.

"I made some stupid prank calls when I was younger," Evans said.

Amanda Hutchings, a senior at Stratford,got her first phone when she was 11 and in the 5th grade.

"It was just a flip phone that had three numbers programmed into it, and 911," she said.

She also said her phone had several parental controls.

"I couldn't use Safari. I couldn't use apps. It also had a timer on it," Hutchings said.

Because she does publicity for her school's playhouse, she now uses her phone for school.

"I use it to get the word out about our new shows. I run our Instagram (and) Snapchat so I constantly have to have my phone on me," Hutchings said.

Rania Mankarious, executive director with Crime Stoppers, said that before you get your child a phone you need to have honest conversations about the sometimes scary things that can happen as a result of cellphones.

"Every house will be different. Every child will be different. It's based a lot on their age and a lot on their maturity," Mankarious said. "Know that children are very savvy. A lot of controls we put on their phones, they are 10 steps ahead and learn to circumvent."

She said don't be afraid to check up on your kids and what they're doing on the phone.

Another warning for parents is to take technology seriously. Cyberbullying has become a major concern. Mankarious said the suicide rate among kids ages 10 and 14 has tripled in the last few years.

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