Leaving 8 year old at home for short periods of time

“Our son is 8. We are thinking of beginning to leave him at the house alone for short periods of time and to let him go to friends’ houses in the neighborhood. We’re not comfortable leaving him with no way to call 911 or us in case of emergency. Does anyone have a traveling “house” phone option that they like? It needs to be a dumb phone; ie. not smart.”

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“We keep a house phone. I want the kids to be able to make calls and I want to have a phone available if the power goes out.”

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You can get a basic prepaid flip phone almost anywhere now. However, I would definitely check and double check your local laws, as it’s not legal everywhere to leave an 8 year old without adult supervision.


I agree with checking the state laws; it’s not illegal in many places (shockingly)! I had a situation where I was concerned years ago when my neighbors left their 5 & 2 year olds home alone (YES!!) and I called authorities. I was told as long as they weren’t neglected or in immediate danger, this actually wasn’t against any laws in our state and there was no actual legal law or required age. It was at your discretion. I couldn’t believe that!! :astonished:

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We started leaving my 10 year old home for little short periods and we had him use his facetime or text messaging to get a hold of us and we downloaded google voice and got him a number that way to call him or he could call us. He is still not that comfortable with us leaving him and still doesn’t like when we are gone for more than an hour. That is his limit. Once an hour hits he starts calling or texting us asking when we are going to be home. They are still little so just start in little spurts and see how he does and make sure he is safe and comfortable in doing so.

Ariana started staying home alone when she was 11 - she asked way before that but she’s always been independent and not scared to be alone. We started with short trips to the supermarket or a local restaurant. She’s 12 now and gets her 6 year old sister off the bus 2x a week and is home with her for 2 hours. We still don’t go more than 15 minutes away though.

In terms of a phone, she has a cell but we have a house phone too.

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In today’s society ? I’d check your state or county laws first . Example - in Arlington County VA

Birth to Age 8:
Should always be in the care of a responsible person. Children this age should never be left unsupervised in homes, cars, playgrounds, or yards.

9- to 10-years-old:
May be ready to be left unsupervised up to 1.5 hours during daylight and early evening hours.

11- to 12-years-old:
May be left alone for up to 3 hours during daylight and early evening hours.

13- to 15-years-old:
May be left unsupervised more than three hours but not overnight.

16- to 17-years-old:
May be left unsupervised overnight for one to two days with a plan in place.