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1) Allow your child to walk home and stay home alone after school unsupervised;


2) Have a computer in his/her bedroom; and


3) Have a cell phone



Reason I am asking is that these questions were posed to some Parenting magazine readers, and the answers surprised me.


My thoughts are as follows:


1) 10 years old/ 5th grade. My brother and I started walking home on our own at 4th grade. We were fine. My son and I now live in a safe, albeit urban, area. My son is extremely mature for his age. He wouldn't be home alone longer than 1.5 hours after school. I work 5 minutes from our home. Feel its best to get him use to going home on his own before he transitions to middle school in 6th grade, where there is no after school program. He will have a couple small chores to complete each day. I also plan to get a dog for us about 6 months before he starts staying home on his own, so that he has some "company'. We've wanted a dog for a while, and I figure it would be a good time to introduce one to our home. Walking the dog, feeding, and playing with it would be part of his "chores" in the afternoon when he comes home.


2) Already has one. Has had it since he was six. It's password protected, and only I can log him in. Got him a computer so he could start to become familiar with a computer, and he mainly uses it to play educational games. Also knew the computer could double as a TV for him to watch movies in his room when I wanted the main TV, so to me it was like killing two birds with one stone. He does use the Internet a little bit, but I have a number of parental safeguards in place, and also have spyware on it so I can monitor what sites he goes to. Figure instead of making it like this "forbidden fruit", best to make it familiar from a young age so that it's commonplace to him. My father had a computer from as long as I can remember, and as a child it never seemed too interesting to me, even after the Internet started gain in popularity, b/c I had always been around it and to me it was no big deal...


3) 10 years old. One, if I'm going to have him walking home on his own, I want him to have a cell phone. We also have a land line at home. I also remember this as the age when my parents had gotten me a phone for my room as a child. They had rules for me for my phone usage, and I will likely do the same for my child.

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I just started maybe a few months ago letting my son stay home alone a bit, he is 13. I believe 10 is far too young and may be against the law. I would check the laws where you are. I know it is against the law here.


PC in bedroom, never, ain't happening unless he is 18 and buys his own. He can use the one in the family room with me in attendance until he is older.


My son got a cell last Christmas so he was 13. It is for emergencies only and he has no interest whatsoever in texts or talking with friends on the phone and I am fine with that.

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I really think it depends on if you have a boy or a girl.


1) 18. Decades ago that was safe, it isn't anymore to let a child walk home alone or even with friends. Sesame Street made programming from the 90s rated R because an old man told a kid he had cookies at his house.


Home unsupervised without a baby sitter trusting them enough to know they wouldn't have a boy over probably 15/16. Now if I had a boy I say 14/15.


2) I say the computer is somewhat supervised at all times. To remain in the family room with one of those computer recording things. To catch a predator comes to mind. That is just really unsafe these days. You can say you trust your kids etc, but things happen. Better to be safe than sorry. I think girls are more prone to looking for someone on-line versus a boy.


3) Cell phone thing. Bugs me how I see 8 year olds with cell phones these days! But I would say 12 if they were responsible enough. Since they also have those GPS in them these days and you can see where your kids are.

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1) Allow your child to walk home and stay home alone after school unsupervised;


10 for walking, but only because the school is 30 seconds away from my home. 12 to stay home alone, although I'd be checking in often.

2) Have a computer in his/her bedroom; and


When he becomes a high school student- but there would be boundaries/limits on use.


3) Have a cell phone


10 but only because that is the same as the walking age.

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Hmmm... interesting responses to numbers 1 & 2. My brother and I started walking home on our own in the last 80s/90s. Stastically, the country is safer as a whole now and crime is down compared to back then. And we survived. I also remember I started babysitting other neighborhood kids on the weekend evening when I was 11 or 12- defintetly by the time I was in 6th grade. But I dunno. I was raised by two parents who grew up on farms and from an early age had to do chores and spent a lot of time on their own while their parents were farming. So they installed in my brother and I the value of being self-sufficent at an early age (I can still remember my Mom showing me-once- how to do my laundry at age 11, and from then I on, I was responsible for my own clean clothes!). So I want to pass that on to my son. I wouldn't think twice about allowing him home on his own when he gets to 5th grade if it were a long walk, transversed busy streets, if he wasn't mature enough, or if I didn't work nearby. But given all those factors, I feel confident he'll be okay. And of course, this is also with the idea that there will be a lot of prior "role playing" and "trial runs" to see how he does before I decide to anything to see if he truly is ready.


My feeling is that as a society, we are so fearful of the "what ifs" that we tend to coddle our children, and by the time they are to go off to college, they are not ready for it yet b/c they haven't had the time to learn how to really be self-sufficent. I remember my freshman year roommate was so protected by her parents that when she came to college, she didnt know how to turn on her brand new computer, how to make her bed, or wash her clothes... that just blew my mind at the time.

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1) Depends on where the school is and what the support network is. I was perfectly fine walking home from one of the schools I went to in first grade. It was 5 blocks away. I was fairly young, but then again, my mom had friends and there were retired neighbors along the way who would on purpose say hello to me to keep tabs on if I passed them or not if my mom had any reason to worry. But then again, lots of kids lived within a 10 block radius of school so I wasn't the only child walking home. I would be even better if the child waited for siblings or a neighbor child before they walked home.


2) have a computer in their room. Never or late teens when they can fund their own. Rooms should be for rest and sleeping. For a child, it would be important to monitor what they were looking at and to not look over the shoulder of a preteen but merely having it in a room accessible to all, they are not as prone to look for trouble.


3) Cell phone. Depends. When they can get a job and can afford the minutes. Other than that, only around 13 for emergencies. The phone would only be actually given to them on days needed. If they are at school and being picked up, they don't need it. If they are going to the county fair with a friend in direct escort of the parents - no. if they are walking to the store 10 blocks away - yes. If they are sent to go to the park up the street with younger siblings - yes.

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I would check the laws where you are. This is what is stated by a local Children's Services in my area


Recommended guidelines for leaving a child alone


Infant - 9 years

A child of this age should not be left unsupervised at any time of the day or night. A competent caregiver should be on the same premises as the children.


10 -12 years

Short periods of indirect supervision of 1-2 hours may be acceptable for this age range. These short periods of indirect supervision may be provided by an adult in the next house or apartment-- if the adult is aware of the parents' absence, and agrees to look in on the child during specified periods of time.


Please note that indirect supervision via telephone contact is generally unacceptable for this age range.


13 - 14 years

Longer periods of indirect supervision (2 - 5 hours) are acceptable for this age range. An adult/babysitter should be available by telephone to the children in case of an emergency, or if the child requires assistance.


15 -16 years

At this age, the child should be able to be left alone for a full day. The parent should be readily available by telephone to the child in case of an emergency.

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I don't have kids, but I would never allow my kids to walk home alone. Maybe i have watched too many real life crime shows, but no. It would either be us picking them, riding a bus, or some other means. No walking.


Staying home alone... 13-14 I guess. But I would base that more on each individual child's maturity rather than just an age. Some 16 years old shouldn't be left home alone!


Computer I'm not too strict about. I think my fiance is against them having it in their bedroom but as far as usage, it's not something I would worry about. Any age I guess.


Cell phone depends. I'd be willing to pay for a small prepaid phone so they could get in touch with me and their father but if they wanted a new fangle gadget, they would have to go out and work for it. I guess early teens would be the age. Somenthing about a 10 year old having a cell phone doesn't sit right with me...

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I walked home from school by myself when I was 5, but I live three doors down from the school and my mom was at home. I was seldom home when my son got off of school, so he was either at a sitter's house or at an after school program until he was about 10. At that age, he was picked up from school and brought home by a relative and stayed alone for about three hours until I got home from work. We live in a very nice city, so there was no worry there. The neighbors all keep an eye on each others apartment and kids.

He had his own tv and vcr in his room since he was about 4. No harm was ever done there. He doesn't really watch much tv. It was never verboten, so he had a very passive attitude about it. I would say 12 is a good age to have a computer in their room.


A cell phone? As soon as they can learn how to dial one. Kids in this world need a quick way to get in touch with you ASAP and a cell phone provides that. I would just get them a basic one with limited minutes until they are old enough to afford their own.

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I know in my state there is NO latchkey law, and basically if law enforcement was called and/or CPS they would basically ask the kid a battery of questions like, "what do you do in a fire? do you answer the door for strangers?" etc etc and if they answered appropriately then they would basically deem it as 'fine'. Of course it could fall under neglect if the child was alone for a long period of time, but there isn't a 'latchkey law' in place.


1.) 11 for walking (depending on the distance) and probably 13 to stay home alone for a short period of time.


2.) Never, though I would allow a TV.


3.) 11 the walking age, though my husband would say 9 for a cellphone.

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