Why my Teen Doesn’t have a Cell Phone

Can you raise a teen without a smartphone? Is it even possible in this day and age? I believe that yes, it is, and there can be many benefits to not giving your kid a cell phone as they navigate their teen years, especially the early ones teen years.

no cell phones for teens

My oldest child is approaching her 16th birthday this coming summer and she does not own a cell phone. More than likely we won’t be looking at a cell phone for her until she heads off to college in a couple years.

It’s not easy going against the norm in society, as people tend to give you the side eye when you do something different. After all, most teens have cell phones these days.

However, our family is used to going against societal norms. The fact that we are still homeschooling, even through high school would be evidence of that!  So, it’s nothing new for us.

Maybe you have kids approaching the teen years and wonder if there is any benefit to holding off getting them a cell phone. I’m going to share with you the benefits I’ve seen in our own family by choosing to delay giving our teens a smartphone.



I want them to enjoy their childhood and fill it with memories that don’t involve the screen

While you will probably seem some reasons in my list that are to be expected, this is my number 1 reason that may not be a common one for those of us choosing to not get our teens cell phones.

When my kids were young and I was trying to decide the right time to introduce them to the online world a wise person told me when it comes to the internet we didn’t need to be in a rush to get our kids on the computer because “once that door is open it will likely never be closed again.”

While she was talking about the Internet and small children, this also applies to cell phones.

Now is the time for my child to be out with her friends, spending time at the beach or on a trail walk with her family, going skating or sledding in the winter or developing hobbies (building miniatures, sewing, reading, and playing guitar are just a few of hers). She wouldn’t be doing as much of that if she was glued to a phone.  In fact, when she asks her friends who own cell phones their favorite hobbies, many reply with just one thing – watching Tik Tok and Youtube videos.

I firmly believe our kids will never grow up one day and say, “I wish I spent more time on my smartphone” but they might say “I wish I spent more time on my hobbies or outdoors.”

They don’t struggle with addiction to their phone

The struggle for many teens is real, and many parents report that their child seems to be constantly glued to their phone. It’s been proven that phone addiction is rampant among teens, and by not having one, my teen has one less challenge to worry about overcoming.

Yes, at some point they will have to learn to manage their time on a phone, but the hope is that because we’ve emphasized the importance on other things, that when the time comes they will be able to balance it well, especially because they will be older and their brains will be a little more developed.

I don’t want them to have to deal with online bullying

We have all heard about the online bullying that can occur on many social media apps, especially with girls. As a blogger I’ve had the unique position of seeing this first hand and really been able to understand how much of this is out there. This post alone will probably bring in some less than pleasant comments my way!

It’s hard enough being a teen without having to deal with bullying on the internet.

We don’t want them being exposed to things like pornography on their phone

Look, I am under no impression that just because they don’t have a phone they won’t be exposed to things on the Internet that are inappropriate. However, I don’t want to make it easier for them.

They say that kids as early as 9, with the average being age 12 have already seen their first image of pornography and kids as young as 13 are being treated for addictions in this area.

This is not something that is easily fixable. This kind of exposure can affect the rest of their lives. If there’s something I can do to help avoid that happening I definitely want to do that.

They don’t have the money

Personally for us, when it’s time to get a cell phone, I want my child to pay for it to learn responsibility. A phone, aside from the initial cost, has a monthly cost which means to afford it my child would need a job year round.

At this point my teen is only working a summer job and much of that money goes into a fund for college. Phones are expensive and until she has a job year round it’s just not affordable for her. 

We want her to be able to communicate well 

I think we can all agree that phones have made it easier for us to avoid proper communication. I know as an adult myself I can struggle with making a simple phone call these days! We’ve gotten so used to communicating through text that even us adults find it difficult to communicate in person.

I want my teen to be able to communicate with people instead of be on her phone. And I have been able to see that happen. My daughter can sit on the floor and play with little ones, go take a class with some seniors to learn how to sew from them, and hang out with teens her own age at a youth event.


Of course. Eventually my teen will need a phone to communicate with people like a boss from work, or maybe her teachers from school. I suspect that around 18, when she is done highschool is when we will feel it necessary for her to have one.

For now, we don’t fee the need. Sometimes the concern for people is safety but we’ve found that our child is generally always somewhere an adult is and can use a cell phone to call us if need be.

We also have a home cell phone instead of a landline so if we were unsure of a situation they were going unto we would send that phone with them. I’ve only had one time where I wished my child had a cell phone so I could reach them directly. All the other times I know I can reach adults they are with.

Does my teen feel left out?

For the most part my teen is fine with it and understands our reasons. The only time she does feel left out is when she is with a group of people hanging out and no one is talking and they are all on their phones! But she’s also made some really solid friends with people who don’t own cell phones as well. She isn’t the only one anymore.

I asked her if she ever wished she had a phone and she said for the most part she doesn’t because she sees the benefit but from time to time she’s thought she might like to have one in the same way she’d like to eat a whole 2 gallon tub of ice cream. 

What does she mean by that?  That eating the ice cream would taste good in the moment, but in the long run wouldn’t be good for her.  That’s the way she views cell phones at this point in her life.  She also knows one of the biggest reasons she doesn’t have one is because I don’t want her to miss out on her childhood, and she really appreciates that reason above all else.

How does my teen communicate with her friends?

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All my kids have super cheap tablets they all bought themselves with their own money from Amazon a few years go. They aren’t anything fancy but it allows them to communicate via messenger with their friends. We do have pretty strict rules when it comes to tablet use though.

They are only allowed on during certain times of the day for a designated length of time, and we don’t allow tablets or any internet device in the bedrooms. They must use them out in the living room or kitchen.

We don’t sit there looking over their shoulder, but from the things we have learned over the years we feel kids get into less trouble when they aren’t hiding away in their bedrooms on the Internet.

So, there you have it. All the reasons why in our home we don’t do cell phones for teens. I know it’s a hot button issue and my intention isn’t to pass judgment on other parents who have chosen to allow their teen to have a cell phone, but to offer another way for those parents who may want to do things differently. It’s definitely possible to make it through the teen years without a cell phone.



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