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We just gave our 12-year-old one of our old iPhones (SE model). She was beginning middle school and bussing for the first time. And more involved in activities and opportunities to have sleepovers and attend events with friends. It makes sense to have a reliable way to communicate with her and feel safer about her whereabouts. We ask her to help babysit her younger siblings for short periods of time. We don't have a landline, so the phone offers peace of mind.

I spent some time learning about the family sharing and child restrictions available on the iPhones. I've been pleased with it. She only has the bare minimum apps and a couple educational ones (no social media yet, restricted web access), and is not able to add any without authorization by a parent on the account. We plan on allowing her to earn entertainment/game apps with good grades, etc. She reads like crazy, so we don't restrict access to books borrowed for free through a library app.

She is actually without it this week, as a result of discipline (nothing terrible, but an excellent bargaining chip we didn't have before). Great responsibly comes with bigger consequences.

I am not sure how we will handle instances of loss or damage, which are sure to occur. May have to contribute monetarily, work it off, be without it for a while, etc.

As other have mentioned, it is a fact of life now. It is important that they adopt the technology that is pervasive in our society. They need to be comfortable with it and have a healthy relationship with it. It is a large part of socializing now, which, again, is important to allow in a healthy, responsible way. I would rather be an early, involved part of that to help steer it when it inevitably goes slightly off course.

Edit: To add, I believe that as parents, our best teaching tool will be the way our kids view us using our phones. When, for what and how often. And I suck at it. I am way too prone to pulling out my phone and flipping through a feed at any idle moment. I know I need to set a better example. But we do have strict times, such as dinner or in certain social settings, where we don't. We need more of those times, and it is always a rewarding feeling when we do an activity as a family where I realize I didn't bother or even think to glance at my phone for hours. It is good to seek out more of those experiences, and our kids notice it.

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