My guys have had them since they were ten, but only because I am over-protective. They have the prepaid ones so that while they are out and about they can contact me (not likely to happen except for when they are late or possibly hurt) and for me to contact them to find out why they are late in case they chicken out on calling me to let me know they are late.
Although I make light of this, it's true, they have it for emergency purposes. My eldest uses it for his friends as well (he is 17) but he also provides for the extra minutes he uses while the other two keep it strictly for emergencies.
Secrets of truth 08, I would love to agree with the landline and payphone part but in my area most households are living by cell phones these days with cable internet hook ups and as far as pay phones are concerned, I really can't think of where any are these days. Maybe 5 years ago I could have named 5 w/in a 1 mile radius but those days are long gone. Cell phones have really taken over the area. Also, not all parents who purchase cell phones for their children are preaching materialism and are not spending time with their children, just sometimes the kids want their own space, to spend quality time with their friends. I know I feel a little bit better knowing that if my guys are caught up doing something, lose track of time, they can still call me to let me know everything is alright, they are just running late. Letting a child grow up and move on isn't always the easiest for parents and to at least know they can hold on just a little, teensy, itty bit longer by at least knowing if they need to they can keep in touch with their kids they can, then let us have that much because all though we have that option available to us does not mean we aren't there for them but that we are.