Kids and Cellphones? When is the Best Age?

kidsandcellphones Recently we let our oldest have an old cellphone that was no longer in use. He can use it when there is wifi around, he can send texts using a free texting app, and if he wants to download anything he needs to get the (ever changing) password from me.

Lately though, I'm wondering if now is the time to let him have a real cellphone. He's old enough to go bike to a friends house, he's old enough for sleepovers (he's 9), and he's old enough to be dropped off at sports, playdates, etc without me having to stick around. Also, what if I'm running late, or something comes up and someone else needs to pick him up?

Now, I know what you're thinking, couldn't he just use someone else's phone if he needs to contact you? Sure, but there can be emergencies that arise, maybe he isn't near someone else's phone or landline, and maybe it would just be peace of mind for me as a parent knowing I have a way to get in touch with him.

We are still on the fence, and haven't decided. Is 9 too young for a cellphone? What do you think?