Quick Take:

Ten-year-old Grace Scherer’s biggest gripe is that her parents think she is too young for a phone. She wrote Lookout’s Community Voices editor, Jody K. Biehl, a letter explaining why she should have one. What do you think? At what age should Santa Cruz County kids get phones?

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My 10-year-old neighbor Grace has strong opinions.

I’m the opinion editor, so I like that trait in a person.

A few weeks ago at a neighborhood party, I asked Grace what issue she cared about most and (naturally) she had a ready reply: “My mom won’t let me get a phone.”

a young girl writes a letter about why she should have a cellphone
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

She said this — the whole sentence — without pausing, as if it was one big word.

Then she launched into a lengthy explanation why her mom’s stance is “completely unfair.”

She had a lot to say.

“Write it down,” I said. “Write me a letter explaining why you should get a phone. Maybe I’ll publish it.”

And she did.

She left me a letter written in pencil in my mailbox a few days later. She drew the lines on the paper herself. They are pretty even (except for a few). She printed the body of the letter, but signed her name in cursive.

I’m publishing it today.

Actually — full disclosure — I am publishing Grace’s second draft. I asked her for one revision to her three (excellent) main points. I asked her to include her mom’s best argument against the phone, plus her explanation of why her mom is wrong. Debate rule 101.

She wrote out her second draft as carefully as the first, along with the words “Warning Warning Warning” across the top, and, “You are entering some very bad handwriting. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Here it is:

Grace Scherer wrote a letter explaining why she should have a phone
Page 2 of Grace's letter

If you can’t read her “bad” handwriting, here is a typed version.

Grace's letter

(I corrected a few tiny spelling mistakes, which I do for all authors.)

Tell us what you think

How old should kids be to get a phone? How did you make your decision? Have you regretted that decision? Let Lookout’s Community Voices editor, Jody K. Biehl, know via email at jody@lookoutlocal.com, and please use “Grace’s phone” as the subject line.

Grace’s letter has made me wonder: Do your kids have phones? What age did you decide they were ready? Do you regret it?

The New York Times ran a piece Sunday reporting that a lot of parents are getting Apple watches for kids as young as 5.

I made my son wait until he was 13, but then we gave my daughter a cellphone at 12. Honestly, she wore us down.

So did the world. She started staying after school for activities and shuffling about in carpools with parents we only somewhat knew (but were deeply grateful to have) and babysitting the kids on the street (are you reading this, Grace?). Sometimes, I just wanted to be able to find her. Right away.

a young girl writes a letter about why she should have a cellphone
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

So we bought her the phone. The results were mixed. And now she is 16 and there is no turning back.

Is this happening in your family? Send me your thoughts at jody@lookoutlocal.com. Please use “Grace’s phone” as the subject line so I find it easily.

Editor’s note: Grace’s parents are concerned about her privacy and asked that her real name not be used. Grace came up with her own pen name.

Jody feels like she is the luckiest person in the newsroom.As Lookout’s Community Voices editor, it’s her job to find the region’s keenest thinkers and most empathetic, diverse voices and help them...