And a seemingly difficult time for them to say "no" to a phone, even for kids in elementary school, where the high-tech bling has become a status symbol.
Sherry Budziak, a mom in Vernon Hills, Ill., says her 6-year-old daughter has friends her age who are texting by using applications on the iPod Touch, a media player that has no phone but that has Internet access.
She draws the line there. But she did get her 11-year-old daughter an older model iPhone last fall, so she can stay in touch with her. Budziak, who works in the tech field and understands the ins and outs of the phone, set it so that the sixth-grader can text, make and receive phone calls and play games that her parents download for her.
"So we're on the conservative side, by far," she says.
Budziak also tells her daughter and her daughter's friends that it's Mom's phone, not her daughter's. It means that she and her husband monitor texts on the phone any time they like.
Does their daughter protest about all the restrictions? Occasionally.
"But she wants a phone so badly that it doesn't matter right now," Budziak says. "Having a phone was better than having no phone at all."
Mark Tremayne, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Texas at Arlington, says he and his wife put off getting their son a smartphone longer than most— until his 13th birthday, which is quickly approaching. They plan to monitor it, having already discovered a few "surprises" when checking the Web surfing history on his iPod Touch.