Jennifer Garner: Why I’m Waiting to Give My Kids Cell Phones

09/07/2014 at 10:30 AM ET

Jennifer Garner Kids Cell Phones Toronto International Film Festival Michael Buckner/Getty/Getty

Jennifer Garner is refusing to phone in on family time.

When it comes to her kids — Samuel, 2½, Seraphina, 5½, and Violet, 8½ — and cell phones, the mom-of-three doesn’t plan on giving over the goods any time soon.

“Not for a long time — they don’t need it. Until I really feel the need, but that’s where I’m strict,” the Men, Women and Children star, 42, tells Entertainment Tonight Canada.

“I’m not there yet … I know I’m a long way from feeling like that’s something we need in our lives.”

But the actress and her husband Ben Affleck aren’t just laying down the rules for their children. The couple are making an effort to curb their own phone use to stop technology from taking over their time together.

“We police each other, we police ourselves, we just try to have guidelines,” she explains.

“This movie was actually great. In making it … it made me say, ‘Gosh, we’re modeling for these kids what we’re going to expect from them at a certain point.’ ”

She adds, “We’re on the same page about it totally.”

— Anya Leon

Want more stories like this?

Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers:

sign me up

Thank you for signing up!

FILED UNDER: Jennifer Garner , News , Parenting

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 55 comments

Anonymous on

Stick to your guns Jenn!

Jamie on

I love Jennifer. Good for her and Ben. I adore them.

Katie on

Well sure, why would they need them? They have help to get their kids around and likely don’t car pool. We don’t all have help at home to deal with these things. If we’re running late, it’s nice to be able to call the cell phone the child is carrying to tell them. Our kids had them early, but when they came in the house, the phones went on the chargers in the kitchen, they didn’t go upstairs to the kids rooms, and they had to remain in their lockers at school. Not a big deal, but we’re all handling our kids in different ways depending on our circumstances. I’m glad she’s not coming at the subject in a judgmental way like some others. When you’re not a super wealthy celeb, and both parents are working full time, you do what you have to do.

Anonymous on

My nephew is 15 and doesn’t have a phone. Having seen it in action. And so much respect for my brother and sister in law for sticking to their guns on that. You go Jen

Stef on

Her kids are too young to have a phone anyway.

jess on

I understand others need for their kids to have a cell phone, but my 10 year old doesn’t need one, so he won’t get one. He wants one so bad though. Maybe in a year or two…

holly on

I love the convenience of a cell phone, but I hate how technology has taken over so much of our lives. My step daughter has her phone in her hand practically 24/7. Put it down & live your life! I guess I’m old fashioned.

Anonymous on

Very correct choice. And even if you give them phones, you give ’em old-fashioned ones instead of smartphones so they won’t spend all day staring into a small screen and miss out all the good stuff around them.
Seems like this couple has got some sort of life guidebook, and are making all the correct choices. Well done.

Rosie on

Smart family values to have! Love this family!

Susan on

My 15 year old grandson doesn’t have a cell phone either and we took his computer & Nitendo game boy away. Now he’s thriving in school & has joined his schools swim team which keeps him very busy 6 days a week. I recently asked him if he missed the computer & his Nitendo and he said he did but, by not having access to them anymore he had alot more time for other things.

guest on

Her kids are babies, to young to have phones anyway. So this question does not concern her.

Deanna on

Good for her. All these people who are posting that her kids are too young anyway our out of touch. I know of a lot of kids as young as age 5 who have their own phones. Their parents think they “need” them or are trying to be the cool parent. I am glad to read she is strict and puts aside the phone and actually talks with her husband.

Stacey McRae on

No kid “needs” a cell phone. Today’s parents want to be their kids friends and instead of getting them the phone for an emergency, you know, the one WITHOUT internet and texting, they get them whatever they want and let them do whatever they want. They even text all day with them while they are at school and tell them to ” just not get caught”. Here’s a thought parents: get lives and friends of your own because your teen is NOT your friend!

Smithy on

I love Jennifer. She is incredibly beautiful inside and out. I hope Ben Affleck walking around in his tiny shirts knows what a catch she is.

Dawn on

Love her! She seems to stay down to earth despite the excesses Hollywood indulges. Celebrity or not, there are realistic limits to tech access for kids and a phone ain’t one of them IMHO at these ages anyway. My oldest didn’t get a cell phone until he was 14 and that was only because he had baseball practice at one field and his younger brother had soccer practice at another field 15 minutes away–he only had the phone to call me when practice was 15 minutes from ending and I’d take it back. He’s 17 now and pays for his phone. I see 10 year olds walking around with iPhones and think, what will they expect when they’re 16–a Porsche?

Amateur Fashion Critic on

I feel it should be based on need. I have a child on the autism spectrum, and he’s had a phone since he was seven (now 16). He can get a hold of me any time he needs me and that helps me breath easier. More and more people these days don’t even have land lines, only mobiles. It is the evolution of communication.

Aimea on

We don’t use cell phones when we’re with our children. Cell phones are not allowed at meal time either as that is family time. Yesterday I saw the most sad and pathetic thing at a restaurant. A lady was on her computer reading and her son was on his phone texting and they didn’t say a word to each other the entire time, really??? Come on parents, talk to your children, there is nothing more important!!!!!!

J on

Two thumbs up for Jen and Ben. Common sense rocks.

KL on

Well I should say that she should wait to give them cellphones! They are 8 d a half and 5 and a half , why would they need cellphones anyway!?

Kat on

My daughter got a pre-paid phone when she started middle school only because I worked and she was by herself for a couple of hours. This way if she had a problem or forgot her key, she could get a hold of me.

SusieKJ on

Had another head-on collision where I live because of a texting teen. Killed himself, killed a man, and his wife is in critical condition. I don’t understand the “safety” issue people cite in order to give their children a phone.

Marcia on

Her kids raw very young so of course they don’t need them. They are useful to have when your child is, say, in middle school or high school,and needs to be picked up after some school activity. Our schools have no outdoor public phones; most don’t. Call phones when used properly can be a life saver.

Patricia on

I wish we had waited till 9th grade we caved and gave out daughter one in 7th grade because all the other kids had one, and they did. Now I wish I had waited. You go Jen.

Anonymous on

Good for you, Jennifer and Ben! Love this family!

Maire on

Cell phones just destroy all interpersonal communications between kids these days … do I like having my cell? Of course but I grew up in the 90s and am happy I did because I actually talked to my friends instead of just texting them.

Anonymous on

Good to hear. We are on the same plan with our family! Go Jennifer !

Mary on

Good for you Jen, I am so sick of going to the store and these kids walk around texting not looking where they are going and expect you to move for them. 13 seems like a good age.

Liza on

I have an 11 year old and many of his friends
have phones and are already texting etc.
So ridiculous. He doesn’t need one, even for carpool
or emergencies. Lots of parents make excuses
in order to justify giving their kids phones and caving
to peer pressure. Kudos to Ben and Jenn and to
the other parents for sticking to their guns and actually

SplendaQueen on

They tune out the world when they’re on those damn phones. I guess they’re texting or playing games. This is the new generation of zombie kids, sitting beside each other at the mall and instead of conversing with their companions, they’re on their phones. Do they even know how to carry on a conversation anymore?

SplendaQueen on

I am reading some of these comments and although mine was harsh because of how kids don’t communicate with each other verbally much anymore, I do see they have their place, with pick-ups of kids from school, etc. The parents on here seem to be on top of setting guidelines for their kids, right to the charger at home, etc.

Gail on

Good for Jennifer. She is on the right point!

Mommytoane on

Smart. I love it. Too many little kids have cell phones these days. My daughter is 11 and does not have one yet. I told her when shes 16 we’ll revisit that decision but until then she can forget it. I don’t think kids need cells. Its disgusting to see 12 yr olds have a conversation with their friend and not speak a single word because they are texting it all. This helps america go down the toilet. There are so many kids who think “UR” is the proper way to spell your. Sadness really. So I fully support Jennifer’s decision. GO JENNIFER!

Elara on

My kids were allowed to have cell phones when they were old enough to get jobs and pay the monthly charge for themselves. If my kids want fancy electronic gadgets, they have to earn the money for it by working and saving toward it. All my kids got jobs as soon as they were old enough, because they had an incentive to want to work.

mrsruedi on

Here’s my take: I have an 8 1/2 and 6 year old. Neither have phones yet, but many of their friends do. I am a married, working mother who’s husband is gone 5 days a week. I do not have help from family in the area. I have held out thus far on cell phones, but do not rule it out at any point it makes me feel safer and do NOT judge anyone in my peer group who has chosen to give their child a phone. One more note: My children are not under the constant supervision of a driver, a bodyguard, a nanny, a personal chef, a personal assistant or many other luxuries “humble” Jennifer has. It’s a joke she spoke out on this. She is in a position and level far from the “audience” her words were intended to read.

Ginger on

Little kids with cell phones is ridiculous. Let the kids go out and play. Go Jenn.


Our three teenage sons (16,15 & 13) share one phone and GASP! it’s not a smartphone. We added the third line when we dropped our land-line about 4 years ago. They usually do not carry it to school because if they need to reach us, they can use the school phones. They have learned how to work out sharing the phone’s use and since they can only use it to actually communicate, they aren’t on it very much.

holly on

I love the convenience of technology, but I really wonder what this next generation is going to turn out like. A friend of mine gives her 2 year old her ipad so he can play games on it. I guess I’m just old fashioned, but to me 2 sounds too young to be handling that kind of technology. What happened to puzzles & coloring etc?

jj on

Good for you Jen.. at that age they don’t need cellphones.

B on

She seems like a great mom! Love seeing her in the news because she is ALWAYS spending time with her children and taking them to fun places. Wish I would see more celebrities like this!

Ava on

My father’s client, a neurosurgeon, says growing brains are more susceptible to brain tumors from cell phones. Doesn’t anyone think about that?

GoodCall on

It is refreshing to see one of a few Hollywood parents demonstrate great parenting skills and show they live in reality. Heck, it is refreshing to see parents in general demonstrate this.

Anonymous on

Good for Jen! IMO, kids don’t need cellphones until at least middle school (unless there are extenuating circumstances such as the kid having special needs, or living in/regularly having to walk through a “rough” area).

If they need to get hold of a parent from school, they can just use the phones there (and there’s going to be at least one- in the office! Some schools also have phones in the hallway for student use.).

And if they get looked out (and nobody else is home) once they return home from school, they can go to a designated neighbor’s house and use their phone (not to mention that it’s easy enough to prevent that “crisis” altogether- by hiding a key outside!).

Kids are only kids for such a short time. Why make them grow up any faster than neccesary?

chrissy on

Yay for you Jen, we are doing the same in our house, no phones and no tablets until the kids are much older!

Stormy on

My Ida are to young for them and kudo’s to her for not giving in to
Soon. I have step children who constantly have them in there hands
And hubby and I disagree that it’s NOT healthy but he’s to scared toMake them mad …

Nannyto1 on

Good for them! Too many electronic gadgets taking up waaaay too much of our one-on-one time with friends and family. We all got along just fine before they came along. My hubby and I were out for lunch yesterday and when we looked around, there were way more people looking at their phones than talking to the people they were actually there with…. so sad!!

Ashley on

LOVE HER and I agree!!!

Leigh on

Cry me a river Katie – what was going on before cell phones? Plenty of responsible hard working parents manage to get through life without having their children armed with phones.

Sandra on

My son got his first phone at 13 and it was a basic no frills phone. All you really need to be able to do is call me when you are ready to be picked up.

VZ on

Yes their kids are too young to have cell phones!

Melissa on

Fair enough. I did not get my first cell phone until when I was 13.

wirelessfreezone on

Cell phones and WiFi emit MICROWAVE radiation and is not safe. Please turn it off. Wire up and get a wired land line. The US Military has known about the harm since the 1920’s. They coined the term Radio Wave Sickness in the 1970’s for all those that were getting sick. Headaches, heart palpitations, dizziness, skin rashes, anxiety, etc are all symptoms.

Anonymous on

wirelessfreezone- I’m sorry, but you can’t compare the early cellphones (or “bag phones” as they were then known) of the 70s to those that we have today. They were roughly the size of bricks, so they emitted a heck of a lot more radition than today’s do (and very likely even more than THEY actually needed to- we didn’t know nearly as much about the dangers of radiation as we do today, so we didn’t think to take steps to reduce the amount given off by various gadgets as much as possible!).

MHR on

I’m 16, and noticed that a lot of kids live their lives via a cell phone. I got my first phone when I was 12 because it became important that I could call or text my parents if we needed to get a hold of each other, without asking someone to borrow a phone. That year I had so many girl scout events and bar and bat mitzvahs that it was just logical. It was a slide style phone, no touch screen but a keyboard. Last year I got a smartphone because at my school, they put in wifi last year, and it’s finicky. They were always saying look it up on your phone, which became annoying. I have pretty limited data though, and mostly text to get a hold of people efficiently. Of course I call people when necessary, but nowadays it’s just not very convenient. It’s a little sad, actually.

Anonymous on

Happy for Jennifer to keep her kids grounded not like some other spoiled Hollywood kids!

Singapore on

didn’t we grow up without a handphone?