Don’t Give Your Kids the House Keys Till They’re 16?

Readers — As we continue to document the infantilization of young people, including how and why this trend began, here’s a  bright trail to one of the culprits: The insurance industry. Remember, insurance has nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking all freedom and  responsibility away from minors. If kids were all in cages, unable to walk to school, ride a bike, play outside or, in this case, let themselves into the house, the insurance world would rejoice, because the chances of anything “bad” happening to them would be even lower than they are now. Of course, so would the chance of anything GOOD happening to them — but that’s not the industry’s concern.

So here is how insurance  manipulates us into questioning age-old practices — and our own intuition — when it comes to our kids grwoing up. This article comes to us from Female First’s parenting blog, which got its “helpful” facts from Confused.com, a price comparison site in the U.K. that specializes in (which also suggests it is financed by) financial and insurance services:

Teens and tweens might threaten your home security, says new research from Confused.com, as more parents are leaving a set of house keys with their children.

The findings from home insurance experts at Confused.com reveal that, today, 40 per cent of parents are giving children under the age of 18 a set of keys to their home, and eight per cent of these key-holders are under nine years of age with 18 per cent aged between nine and 11.

Traditionally, children receive ‘the key to the door’ at a more suitable age, or when they reach a milestone birthday like 16, 18 or 21, but things are much different in modern society, according to these findings.

Giving young children keys to the house has been identified by Confused.com as one of the potential threats to home security that families may be overlooking.

What the heck is a “more suitable age” than the age a parent decides a child is ready for a key? And considering that throughout most of human history, children “aged between nine and 11” were expected to pull a lot of weight when it came to family chores, why is Confused.com suggesting that kids that age (and even older!) can’t even stay home alone for a little while? Can you imagine not letting kids have the keys till age 16, 18 or 21? When was this “traditional” era of babying 21-year-olds that Confused.com is harking back to? Methinks they made it up. – L.

Can I have the keys to the house NOW, mother?

Can I have the keys to the house NOW, mother?

 

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131 Responses to Don’t Give Your Kids the House Keys Till They’re 16?

  1. Grant Gould February 19, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Pretty sure I got my first house key when I got my first pocket knife, age 9 or thereabouts: Those were the two things that my dad said I must always be sure to carry. I know the other side won the war over kids’ pocket knives some time ago, but I’d never expected they’d be after the key as well.

  2. N February 19, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    21? They could have their own house and kids at that age. People are stupid.

    I was a latch-key kid so I had one around 10 or 11 so I could get in the house after school. My daughter is 11 and I’ve been considering giving her one just in case she comes home from the bus after school and I haven’t gotten back yet.

  3. Denise Schipani February 19, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    21 is just too hilarious. My mom was married and had a one year old child at 21. I had my first house key when I was 10,on a big plastic key chain with my name in raised white letters. I LOVED that thing! My 10 year old is asking when he can be left alone for a short while. I don’t think he’s quite ready yet (and not the two of them together, I also have an eight year old), but next year, when he starts sixth grade? Sure!

  4. Ann February 19, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Does this warning ever go on to explain WHY?! they are such a danger to home security just by having a key?

  5. BL February 19, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    it would be interesting to see stats on how often non-children (like, oh, parents) lose keys and forget to lock doors.

    Pretty often, I’m guessing.

  6. Earth.W February 19, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    I got my key when I was in Grade 3.

  7. BMS February 19, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    @Grant: My kids got pocket knives for their 9th birthday, and their keys shortly thereafter. The war is not lost! (The older one’s keys often are. He learned to break in through the kitchen window. Not sure whether to be proud of his resourcefulness or concerned about his future job as a burglar, LOL)

  8. Jennifer February 19, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Really? I gave my kids keys when they were 8.

  9. Orange Roughy February 19, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    My daughter has had the key to the house since she was 8 or 9. She still has her Tinkerbell key on it’s Tinkerbell leash. I am a stay at home mom and she isn’t even a latch-key kid. I just figured she lived here too and should have a key. What she doesn’t have is a cell phone. She is going to have to wait for that.

  10. Becky February 19, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Keys? Keys were for when the power went out. From a very young age I knew how to access my garage through the key-pad code, then how to shut off the alarm system once I was inside the house using a different key pad. If I’d had to resort to the actual key I had to the back door I’d have never gotten it open, as it always stuck hard. My friends all knew the codes too since we used them all the time to go in and out (one was my birthday, I had very unoriginal parents). Oddly, no one ever abused the knowledge/power.

    I know not everyone has a security system and the like, but the point still remains, wouldn’t you rather your kids had a reliable way into the house if they were dropped off from school early, or sick, or stuck in the rain, or scared?

  11. JP February 19, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    We don’t even lock the door

  12. Alison February 19, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    I don’t think I ever got a door key, but I had the garage door code when I was 10. Same thing. My grandma liked to tell me the story of when she was dropping me off at home one day before my parents got there: she said I told her to turn around so she couldn’t see the code I punched into the garage door keypad. Lol. I guess I had heard loudly and clearly that the home’s security was quite important.

  13. Emily February 19, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    I remember getting a housekey at some point in elementary school. And yes, at about the same time as a pocket knife.

    ‘Course, my parents, then and now, rarely lock the house so I think I used that key a grand total of once… Wow, the wild risks my parents took in our quiet little neighborhood of spying wicked neighbors who would have defended our property and each other as their own.

  14. joanne February 19, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    I didn’t have a house key until maybe I was a teenager. But then again, we grew up in such a small, safe town my parents only locked our front door at night when we were sleeping or if we were spending the day in Tucson (70 miles away). They were at work and we were at school? Door unlocked. Run to the store? Door unlocked. I only got one in high school because sometimes I’d be out after they went to bed.

  15. C.J. February 19, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    I had my own house key when I was 7. I got home from school 10 or 15 minutes before my mother got home from work. We never had any security breaches because I had a key at 7. My kids (ages 7 and 10) don’t have keys to the house but I’m always home so it has never come up.

  16. Selby February 19, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    So let me get this straight: teen access to guns, fine….but teen access to their own house keys, bad?

  17. Kristi February 19, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    At 21, I had the keys to my OWN house! Why? Because my parents taught me to be responsible, personally and financially, well before the legal drinking age.

  18. Danielle M. February 19, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I got my first set of keys BEFORE I was allowed to stay at home by myself because…well I lived there and I guess my Mother thought I should have access to my house just in case. I was home alone for a few hours after school starting at age 8. I wonder how I survived this long…

  19. Lisa February 19, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    That’s crazy! I don’t remember when I got a key (but I didn’t really need one when I was young; Mom didn’t work until I was in 6th grade). My daughter got hers when she was 7; that’s when she started walking home from school. In 3 years, she’s lost several… only thing that’s changed is the last time, I made her pay to have a new one made.

  20. LisaS February 19, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Given how many house keys I’ve lost since age 8 (when I got my first one just in case I beat Mom home from school), I understand the concern to some extent.. If losing keys is a security risk, I probably shouldn’t be given house keys either. Luckily, I live in a high rise so our exterior doors have electronic code locks, and we keep our unit key behind a combination lock in the basement. But if I lived in a house, I’d be installing electronic locks so that physical keys wouldn’t be an issue … for me or my progeny.

  21. LisaS February 19, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    the other benefit of electronic locks is that you can easily and cheaply lock them OUT at a suitable age ….

  22. Julie February 19, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    My 10 year old takes the city bus home from school by himself. At times, I’m out picking my other kids up from school when he gets home. Would it be better, or safer in the eyes of the article’s authors, for him to sit on our front steps and wait for me to get home to let him in?

  23. baby-paramedic February 19, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Perhaps they are harking back to the day when keys were more symbolic? As in, no one locked their doors?
    Even now on many rural areas people do not lock their homes. Which is useful for me, perhaps less useful for home security (although the assorted pig and cattle dogs around the place probably do their fair share of scaring off people with ill intentions).

  24. Cynthia812 February 19, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    It’s been mentioned once or twice, but IF it’s true that kids used to received keys later, I have no doubt it was because doors were rarely locked. I got my first key around age eight, when I started riding the bus home (before that, I walked to my grandmother’s; she lived closer). I used to joke that our city was litter with keys to our house, as my parents had five kids, all of whom lost keys to the house. Somehow, I don’t think someone who finds a random key on the ground is likely to find my parents’ house to try it on.

  25. Emily February 19, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    I got my first house key at twelve, which, I’m told, is the minimum age to leave a child at home alone here in Ontario. I’ve since heard otherwise on this blog, that there isn’t a minimum age, but at the time, I believed my parents, since it was pre-Google, and they’re both lawyers. Anyway, I did, of course, misplace my key a few times, since I was twelve, but nobody ever used it to get into our house, because it wasn’t labelled with our address, so even if someone were to find my key, they wouldn’t know which house it belonged to.

    The other thing is, I don’t know how delaying “house key age” to 16, or 18, or 21, would prevent this, because if normal childhood milestones are pushed back until kids are either verging on adulthood, or already adults, then the kids won’t progress developmentally as they would have done if they’d been allowed to actually grow up, when they were growing up. Does that make sense? To put it in a simpler way, Dr. Phil always said that time does nothing; it’s what you DO in that time that counts. So, a sheltered and bubble-wrapped sixteen-year-old isn’t going to magically be more responsible and streetwise than a twelve-year-old, just because of the passage of time. I don’t even like Dr. Phil, but I think that that particular quote of his is very true.

  26. Emily February 19, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    P.S., Didn’t it occur to the insurance people that a high school student without a house key would be a logistical nightmare? My high school let out at 2:30, so my brother would get home around 3, and I would also, when I didn’t have some after-school activity. Meanwhile, my parents would leave work (half an hour or so away by car) at 5 p.m., at the earliest. So, where do these insurance people propose that teenagers go after school?

  27. Lisa T (@BlueRaveFinn) February 19, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    I was a latch key kid. My much older sister was in high school in the opposite direction. I think I had a key at 6!

  28. Nicole February 19, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I think I gave DS his in the 4th grade.

  29. Taradlion February 19, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    Our door was left unlocked. If it was locked we had a hidden key. I knew where the key was and let myself in, by the time I was 9 for sure. I still remember when I was in middle school, the door was locked, my brother had forgotten to return the key, so I removed (and replaced) a pain of glass from the window with a pocket knife…

    We always joked with my mom for sleeping with the doors wide open (screen door closed) in summer because it was hot and then locking and putting chain on closed door in winter…she sometimes put the chain on out of habit when I was in high school and still out, requiring me to “break in.”

    It is bizarre to me that this somehow suggests that kids didn’t have keys before, that it is a new trend to give a kid a house key before they have car keys. To me, only way that’s true is if, like my family, the doors were not locked!

  30. Warren February 19, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Becareful with this. The insurance companies may start to regulate who you give keys to and when.

  31. Jennifer 2 February 19, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    My daughter got her house key in 3rd grade. We live almost across the street from the elementary school, so she’d walk home and let herself in if my husband (who was a student at the time) was running late coming from class. She viewed it as a huge privilege. If she started acting up, we’d tell her “hand over the house key!” and her eyes would get big and she’d straighten up. I think she lost the key once- and it was later found, after she cleaned out her backpack.

  32. Mike February 19, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    My 9 year old son has a key. He’s not being left home alone yet, but he has it so he can let himself in after being dropped off from a playdate or playing in the neighborhood, or so he can open the door for us when we’re carrying in work bags or groceries. Next year when he takes the bus he’ll often beat us home, and will have the sense to go inside and be responsible until a parent comes home.

    Giving him the key was an incredible encouragement boost for him and he matured a lot because of that simple act. Just knowing he can let himself in makes him more responsible.

  33. CrazyCatLady February 19, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    I didn’t get a key until I started coming in the house after my parents were in bed. The only time they locked the door was when they went to bed. At that house, we had a huge dog who pretty much prevented anyone from entering the house who didn’t belong. Any other time, I could get in the house.

    The house before that had skeleton keys. I didn’t get one of those even though in 2nd grade I was getting home an hour before my brother, and about 2 before my mother. Those keys would have been difficult to replace if lost, my parents just didn’t lock the doors.

    I suspect that the insurance company is worried about the HOUSE, not the children.

  34. Annika February 19, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    ONLY 40% OF TEENS HAVE KEYS? How the hell do they get into their house? I had a key to my home at whatever age that I started coming straight home from school (hours before my mom got home), which I think was probably 11. I might have had a key earlier, but I *know* I had one then.

  35. Stacey February 19, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    16 is old enough to drive and in many states 15 with permit. Are they saying that a kid can be trusted with a car key sooner than a house key? Please. If the kid leaves the house to go to school, they should have a key/means of access. Sometimes timing doesn’t work. Things come up.

  36. m February 19, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    We moved last summer. Our kids didn’t have keys to our old house, because WE didn’t have keys to our old house. We never locked the doors.

    Once we moved to town, I had keys made for everyone. My kids are old enough to baby-sit in someone else’s house, they are certainly old enough to have keys to their own home.

    I wonder if the insurance companies think it’s a security risk if we give a set to our elderly neighbors?

  37. Amanda Matthews February 19, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    18 or 21?! I had the keys to MY OWN PLACE then. How are kids suppose to learn to not lose keys before they have their own? Isn’t young adults not having skills to function in life more of an insurance risk?

    By 16 I was in college and had a “real” job. I had a key by at least 8, as I went to schools with weird hours that sometimes varied, and that was when my little brother started school (different schools with different hours, and he’s mentally disabled so someone always had to pick him up) and my mother started working; so that was when I started having to come and go at different times than my parents. Also, since my mom started working, it meant there wasn’t always an awake parent home while I went outside. By 10 I was babysitting my brother and nephew with no parents home at all.

    I can see why there is no need to do it until say, middle school if you don’t have a free range kid, and all your kids go to the same school or after school care. I just can’t imagine not ever being away from your parents, never coming/going at different times from them until 16, though. I understand that most people aren’t in college by that point, but what does the insurance company expect; that 15 year olds will go to a babysitter until mom gets off work? That parents will still be scheduling their lives around school, sports etc. when their kid is 17? Or just that mom will stay home waiting to unlock the door until her kids are all 21?

  38. Tony Shreck February 19, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    “Traditionally, children receive ‘the key to the door’ at a more suitable age, or when they reach a milestone birthday like 16, 18 or 21, but things are much different in modern society, according to these findings.”

    Whose tradition is this, exactly? This is pure revisionism/propaganda?! I’m not even sure when I got my first set of keys… because for most of my youth my parents just left the basement door unlocked!

    If anything’s different about “modern society” it’s just that we’ve handed the big key ring to the insurance companies.

  39. Havva February 19, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    I got my first house key in 4th grade (9 yrs old) at the same time that I started riding the bus. I still have the same key I was given then. My parents were diligent about locking doors so I used that key a ton.

    “16, 18, or 21” makes no sense to me at all. At 16 you are likely to hand a kid car keys and hope they have the experience and knowledge to use them and not loose them. At 18 they are an adult and if everything went well they should be moving out.

    As for me at 18, aside from getting a key to my dorm room, I was trusted with the keys to my college’s material science, electrical, and machinery labs. I cleaned these labs, alone, at age 18. The machinery lab contained a steam plant. Material science, had several machines designed to destroy metal samples. My favorite basically had a sledge hammer hanging like a pendulum. When I was 19, I handed the job over to another 18 year old who was fresh out of highschool. I wonder what my college would do if they start getting a crop of students that had never been trusted with a key before.

  40. Sarah in WA February 19, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    We had a key hidden in a hollow rock near the door when I was a kid, so I never actually carried one, but I had a way to get in if the bus dropped me off and my parents weren’t home. My dad would often recall fondly how they never even locked the door when he was a kid.

    Now my kids won’t even be able to ride the bus (budget cuts) once they’re in school.

    So, are the insurance companies saying it’s better to leave a child out in the cold than risk the home’s security? :-/

  41. SKL February 19, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    That’s funny. So kids are safer if they are locked out? I have heard some parents say this about their own kids. It makes little sense to me. I mean, unless you know you have a firestarter or something.

    My siblings and I were latchkey kids from the time we were 4, 6, 8, and 10. I (the 6-year-old) had the responsibility of carrying the key on a shoestring around my neck, because I was allegedly more responsible than my older brothers. (A bit later my parents got keys made for all four of us.) Of course we were safe in the house. After all, my brother was responsible for cooking the family meals from age 10. What could go wrong?

    The only costly incident was the time my brother fell on the ice on the way to school, broke his arm, and had to figure out what to do about it on his own (we all abandoned him in favor of avoiding tardy swats). I guess things would have been worse had he not had a housekey!

    Can stuff happen with kids home alone? Sure. And things can and do happen when kids are NOT home alone. If a kid is roaming the neighborhood without a housekey, he’s going to be forced to enter into situations that he might not have chosen – and that can have some pretty bad consequences if you think about it.

  42. Renee Anne February 19, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    I had my first house key at about 9 years old (when I started staying home by myself for a couple hours before and after school – *GASP*!). I left it places a couple times but eventually I got used to having it. My mom made me wear it tied to a hunter orange shoestring around my neck. By the time I was in middle school, I had upgraded to a keychain that I kept in my backpack somewhere. Never lost it except within the depths of my bag after that.

  43. pentamom February 19, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    The “traditional age” to give your kids house keys was never, or maybe when they moved out, because traditionally, houses have been left unlocked except when left empty for a long time, until just a generation or two ago — in Britain as well as the U.S. I confess I still do sometimes it if I’m only going to be out for an hour or so, in broad daylight, in our cul de sac neighborhood where someone who doesn’t belong would probably be noticed.

    Eighteen or twenty-one? HAHAHAHAHAHA. I think we generally do it around 12. Since we homeschool through middle school, it’s pretty rare that our younger kids are going to be coming and going without one of the parents, so it’s just something for them to lose, so we don’t bother. If it looks like they might need it for a one-off kind of occasion when they’re younger, we’ll lend them one.

    Really, in what culture is it “traditional” to award your child with the awe-inspiring legacy of a house key at the age at which they become old enough to sign a mortgage?

    Does this imply that until your chlid is 18 or 21 they’re never home without you? That you’ll still be rushing home from wherever you are to make sure they can get in the house if they arrive back when they’re TWENTY YEARS OLD?

    That is probably the best-named site I have ever come across. Are we sure it’s not a joke?

  44. Craig February 19, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Most suburban houses have garages, with garage door openers and keypad access….our kids knew our code probably by age 5 or 6. Sheeeesh.

  45. Jenna K. February 19, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I don’t think I ever had my own key. We had the garage door code from when I was about 12. If we needed to use a key, my parents had two extra house keys hanging on a hook in the kitchen that we could take, we just had to let my mom or dad know that we had it. Then when we were done using it that day/night, we put it back on the hook. My parents still have a key hanging on a hook in the kitchen for any of us to take when we are visiting if we need it. And we all know their garage door code as well where they are, just in case. My kids don’t have their own house keys, but they do know the garage door code, even my six-year-old knows it.

  46. Katie February 19, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    My husband and I both got our keys when we started riding the bus home from school and there was a chance our parents wouldn’t be there when we got there. He was 8-10. I was 11. If we’d lost the keys, we would have had to pay for the locks to be changed, but that didn’t happen, because we were taught it was important to keep our keys and lock the doors.

    I moved out of my parents’ house a few weeks after my 18th birthday and by 21, I’d already lived on my own for 3 years. The idea that parents couldn’t trust their adult children who are of an age to live on their own with house keys is absurd. I just imagine my mother making a big deal of giving me the house keys at 21. “Sweetie, we officially trust you with these.” I would have been totally floored. And my mom was much more protective than most of my friends’ parents.

  47. Robin from Israel February 19, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Or perhaps because back then no one ever locked their doors, hence no need for keys…

    I remember getting my first key at age 7, the year I had to watch my 5 year old sister for 15 minutes (yes, just 15 minutes) after school on the 3 days a week that my mother wasn’t home from work before us. I also remember being inordinately proud of the quarter I earned for doing so.

    My kids each got keys at age 9, which is when they began walking home from school, occasionally to an empty house. It’s worked out fine for us – they were more than ready and proved themselves very capable of handling the responsibility.

  48. Kim February 19, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Keys to the house (or garage code) at age 10. They had to earn that key code through responsible behaviour and they under NO circumstances give out the key code.

  49. Emily February 19, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    @SKL–I know this isn’t the point of your story, but would your school really have punished four kids who arrived late, if one of them had a broken arm, and the other three were walking with him for moral support until they could find an adult to help?

  50. SKL February 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    @Emily: Well, we did not know his arm was broken at the time! We just thought he was being unusually wussy. None of us had ever broken a bone before. I was no more than 8 or 9 at the time.

    And yes, I was regularly paddled for being tardy to school. Not that it hurt, but it was embarrassing.

  51. Warren February 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    “Traditionally, children receive ‘the key to the door’ at a more suitable age, or when they reach a milestone birthday like 16, 18 or 21, but things are much different in modern society, according to these findings.”

    This shows the mentallity of the author. The author still deems people 16,18 and 21 to be children. Enough said, and this article can be disregarded as fantasy.

  52. Donna February 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    I did get my first house key at 17. We always left at least one door unlocked unless we were going out of town until we moved to downtown when I was 17 so there was never a need for keys.

    I curious as to what the security risk of kids loosing keys is. Are they known for loosing identifying information with them? Otherwise it is just a random key lying on the ground.

  53. Ifsogirl February 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    I got my first house key at age 8. My parents both worked and there was no affordable daycare near us. My previous sitter moved just a few months after my birthday. Sometimes I’d forget it at school and I would have to jimmy open a back window to get in. The next day I’d leave by the same widow so the doors were locked. I even had the option of going to the neighbours if I was locked out, but I wanted to be home alone.

  54. elsiroomom February 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Shut. Up. It is NOT called Confused.com is it? Really?!
    Did they completely forget about the latchkey 1980s, when first graders came home from school alone, with no supervision, until their working mothers arrived at 6 pm?!

  55. Stafir February 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Just to chime in as well. I honestly don’t remember when I got my own key, but otherwise.

    I know before I even went into school. I was told where the key to the house that was hidden outside was at. In case something ever happened and I had to let myself in. So I didn’t have my own keys..but I knew where the ‘hidden’ key was. I’m not sure when I got my own keys, I know I did eventually..and even though I’ve been moved out of the house for multiple years…I still have my 2 keys (both back and front door).

    This is just the insurance companies trying to breed idiots..once again.

  56. Emily February 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    @SKL–Okay, that makes sense. When I fell down the stairs and landed sideways on my right foot, I thought I’d just sprained my ankle, until two days later, when I woke up and found it swollen and purple. So, I went to the doctor, found out that I’d broken my fifth metatarsal (the bone that connects to my baby toe), and then I was in bandages for over two months.

  57. pentamom February 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    “I curious as to what the security risk of kids loosing keys is.”

    Yes, that is a good question. Unless they’re losing it on the street right in front of the house, it’s just a key.

  58. lollipoplover February 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    If the insurance industry had any idea how MANY kids and neighbors know our garage door code, they’d declare us home security threat level:Nuclear Red.

    My youngest got the code at age 4 and used a milk crate to reach on her tippy toes. We keep the garage closed in the winter months to cut down on heating so this is just common sense. Sometimes they get locked out.

    Isn’t the point of parenting to teach self sufficiency? Do you make your kids ring the doorbell when you don’t give them a key…I don’t understand how this would works.

  59. Fuchsia February 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    That’s crazy. We have a lockbox outside with a code. When the kids are old enough to stay home alone they get the code. If they are responsible enough to be home alone they are responsible enough to not tell someone the code. And if they get locked out, they can get back in since we auto-lock all our doors.

  60. Dawn February 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    I laugh at this because I recently told my 6yo that I was considering going back to work. He asked if he would get a set of keys to the house. LMBO NO!

  61. Jaime February 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    My 6-year old wants to know when he can have his own key. I told him we’d discuss it. It would be handy now, if only to have him unlock the doors because my hands are full. In 2 years he’ll be at a closer school where he will walk home – he’ll probably get his key then if he hasn’t already.

    Of course, he has also asked why we (Mom and/or Dad) had to be home even after he was asleep. When I said we should be there in case he needed us, he replied “Well, there’s a phone!”

  62. Sarah February 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    I remember my stepdad going bananas because I would always lose my house key as a teenager, I never lost it in elimentary school though. I think that I had one from about 9 up. The coded locks that they have know are absolutly great and reasonably priced. I installed one on my grandparents house because they were always losing their key and getting locked out. My 9yo son has their code and goes over to their house afterschool to walk their dog and water take their trash out.

  63. Eric Larson February 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    If the magnetic key-box was ever missing from the screen door, I knew I could always use a certain basement window. My kids just know the garage code.

  64. Lyle F. Bogart DPT February 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    My soon-to-be 11 year old daughter’s been after me for quite a while for her own house key but I don’t think she’ll be getting one anytime soon. Oh, it’s not that she’s not ready or that I’m too controlling or anything like that. We don’t lock the doors and I long ago misplaced my own keys. . .

    Cheers, All!

  65. Lisa February 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    How ridiculous! I installed an electronic lock years ago and my seven-year-old has known and used the code for at least two years, so since he was five years old. He likes to be the one to unlock the door when we are all out together or when he’s across the street at his friend’s house, he gets mad if the door’s not locked for him to unlock! Any sensible parent would want to their children to be responsible AND to get in their own house at any time. Insurance regulations are ruining childhood!

  66. Leslie February 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    My 10 year old has been able to get into the house on his own since he was tall enough to reach the key pad on the garage (3 years or so now). My 7 year old doesn’t know the code yet only because she generally just lets her brother open the garage door. I need to check today to make sure she knows the code so she can get in if she needs to.

  67. mollie February 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    Had the keys to my own apartment at 17.

    At my house, the door is unlocked, as many have remembered from their own childhoods. We lock up at night and when we leave town, but otherwise not.

    At the kids’ dad’s house, he is a fastidious locker-upper, and they have a key hidden outdoors. Neither child carries a key.

    I carried a key around my neck on a piece of yarn starting at age 7; in 1978, I was a classic “latchkey kid.”

    Aren’t the insurance companies just making the leap from “kid has a key” to “kid lets themselves into an empty house and burns it down trying to heat up a can of beans”?

  68. SKL February 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    I suppose the insurance companies would be displeased to know that I often send my 6yos out the door with my car keys in the morning. They unlock the door, put the key in a convenient spot, and get in and buckle their seat belts, so I can finish whatever I’m doing before I fly out of the house. They know they are not to touch any buttons etc. in the front of the car. This procedure has saved us from being tardy to school many times.

  69. LauraL February 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    We have a codekey on the garage, but our garage is actually “unattached”. There’s no direct door into the house.

    Our kids got keys around 8 years old, if they were going to have to be alone at home, and most certainly by the time they were in middle school (11-12 years old). They’ve lost them a couple of times but adults lose their keys, too, yanno.

  70. Jana February 19, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    At 18 or 21, I will not have too much use for a house key because I will not be living at home. Anyways, a 16 year old handing her key to a boyfriend is way more risk to home security than a nine year old handing it to a stranger.

  71. Hels February 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Wow. I can’t remember what age I started carrying house keys around – I know it was before the age of 8, because at 8 I lost keys for the first time (I put them in a plastic bag, so the keys tore a hole and fell out) – so my Dad had to change one of the locks… By 11, I was left home alone for the whole weekend – my parents would go to our country cabin for the weekend starting in late April, but I had school on Saturdays so I could not go. The most wicked things I have done while left alone were to skip dinner, buy and eat an entire box of chocolate candy, stay up until 3am reading or watching TV or leave dishes unwashed overnight once or twice. I even dealt with a broken fridge one of those weekends – since that was before cell phones and my parents were unreachable.

    What age do these people suppose kids should be living on their own? And when the heck are kids supposed to prepare for that? It’s not like all the knowledge and abilities are magically put in people’s heads on their 21st birthday…

  72. Crystal February 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    I find this quite funny for 2 reasons: none of my parents’ 6 children ever had a house key at ANY age because…..my parents don’t lock their house! So therefore we never needed it. Secondly, my husband and I bought our first house at the ripe old age of 19. So apparently, we were old enough to OWN a home, but not to have our own house key?

    By the way, I’m only 27, so it’s not like this was back in “the good ol’ days.” And funny story along the same lines: when we arrived at the title company to close, the receptionist asked if we were waiting for our parents. I’ll never forget the look on her face when we told her we were the next appointment! :-)

  73. Emily February 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Yeah, I agree with Hels. I thought the age cut-off of “21” for a house key was funny, because I didn’t live at home when I was 21–I was in my third year at Bishop’s University, so for most of that year, I lived at the university.

  74. JJ February 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    21!

    I was just thinking about gving my 8 yo one in case I can’t get home in time after school for some reason.

    At age 11 I had one and was taking care of my younger siblings until my mom came home from work. Nothing bad ever happened! It made me very confident and independent at a young age.

  75. Teri February 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    What makes this even more ridiculous is knowing what they are referring to when they state that “traditionally” kids received “the key to the door” at 16, 18, or 21.

    The tradition is a Gift Giving tradition that marks one’s coming of age. The symbolism of a 6-inch silver key that doesn’t fit any house in the world is “Here, you’re an adult now, you can have your own house (get out of mine!)” :)

    When the voting age was 21 (my parents’ generation), kids got “the key to the door” when they were 21. My generation received it when we reached 18, which was the voting age by then. I suppose some kids might have been given a keepsake key, but by the time I turned 18, “the key to the door” was more often the design on the 18th birthday card. I doubt many people have ever received this symbolic gift on their 16th birthdays. Not if their parents knew what it meant, anyway.

    In my case, I was given our house key when I was about 13, which was when we started locking the door.

  76. Michelle February 19, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Hmm. I just realized that, even though my oldest is about to be 15, none of my kids have keys. Frankly, it’s just never come up because I’m a SAHM, we homeschool, and with nine people living here, *someone* is always home. I can’t even remember the last time I used *my* house key.

    Still, I guess I should have some extra keys made up, just for the heck of it. I know I certainly had a house key by the time I was in middle school. The summer before 8th grade I spent the whole summer home alone, all day every day, until my mom came home from work and she brought my brothers home from daycare. I definitely had a key by then.

    The idea of parents giving a 21 year old their first house key is laughable. On my 21st birthday I’d been out of my parents’ house for three years, was married with two step-kids, and had just given birth for the first time!

  77. Stephanie February 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    I got my oldest her house key when she was in second grade and I realized that sometimes my son’s speech therapy class could make me get home later than she got out of school on minimum days. She never needed it at that point, but was reassured to have a way into the house if I ran late. Gave her then 4 year old brother a key at the same time, just because. He didn’t actually use it for a couple years.

  78. CJ February 19, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    As others have mentioned, I was a latch-key kid with a key hidden in the garage (unlocked!! separate from the house! a garage door you had to open manually!) that I started using at 6 years old. I came home from school, usually by walking alone, let myself in to the house, got a snack and played alone until my mom or dad came home. While individual children will vary, as a whole, waiting until 16, 18 or 21 for a house key vastly underestimates the maturity and responsibility level of children. Unless of course, these people intentionally are raising immature and irresponsible children.

  79. Incunabulum February 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    ” . . .reach a milestone birthday like 16, 18 or 21″

    Funny, here was me thinking that 18 is the age to take the key *away*.

  80. Sara February 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    This is hilarious and so stupid or it must be some sort of cultural thing that I have never heard of and therefore I apologize for calling it stupid.
    I think I was 5 and in kindergarten when my parents hid a key to the house in our boat so that I could get in after school. I am pretty sure it was because they thought I would lose it if I had to carry it around. So it lived in the boat or various hiding places until we moved when I was 16. Though now come to think of it when I was a teenager and college student I am not sure any of my family of 4 had keys to the same door. We had moved and we all had garage door openers. Now my children, husband and I use keyless entry to our home because it’s just easier to remember a code and I don’t have to provide keys to various grandparents, housekeepers etc who might need to get in from time to time. I can just change the code instead of re-keying the lock if I feel threatened. I more likely to forget to lock my car and have a evil burglar bent on kidnapping us all using my garage door opener, waking me up in the night when he/she trips over all the junk in my garage.

  81. Maggie February 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    My oldest got a house key when she was 8 or 9. I didn’t work outside of the home, but she was involved in a couple of activities (4H, Children’s Theater) within walking distance of our house. If I decided to go to the grocery store while she was at these activities, I didn’t have to worry about rushing back to pick her up, because she could walk home and let herself in, and she was perfectly capable of being home alone for half an hour or more.

  82. catspaw73 February 19, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    I got mine in year 6 (age 10) as mum was working and I got home before her, but knew where the key was hidden outside from about age 5 onward “just in case”.
    Eldest got hers when she started Intermediate (year 7, age 11) and has permission to boil the jug and make herself a hot chocolate if she gets home before I arrive home from picking up the younger child!

  83. Mark February 19, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    16? That’s when I added a car key to my keyring, to join the house key (6), bike lock key (10), and timeclock card (15).

  84. JJ (other JJ) February 19, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    You mean you don’t recall the traditional House Key Presentation on your 18th or 21st birthday? You parents drove to your college and took you to dinner and presented you with the key and a speech about how you are a big kid now and as such key ownership had now become suitable for you. You were also given permission to light the stove and walk to the mail box unescorted. Sure, you remember!

  85. Suzanne February 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    I think they are mixing up the age you should give you kids a spare house key with the age you might give your kids a spare car keys.

    My daughter will likely be walking herself home from school next year and if she does, then she will have a spare key, just in case I don’t make it in time.

  86. Eliza February 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    I have a feeling that this article written by inurance companies is so they can justify raising thier premiums. If you make a claim and they find out it was a person under a certain age that was responisble for locking the door, either before they left or when they came home, the insurance company can regect the claim unless you stated they have a key, which means paying more. They don’t care about your child’s or family saftey, they care that thier shareholders make a profit.

  87. Walter February 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    Well, Emily, if there was such an age limit in Ontario my parents broke it for years!

    I don’t think I ever got a house key; we had a house key hidden in a special spot which I know (and one’s still there decades later) and used it every day when coming home from school.

    Makes it harder to lose.

    I know I was using it regularly at age 7, but probably at least occasionally before then.

  88. Jespren February 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Ok, I admit I didn’t have access to a house key until I was 15…oh, wait, that’s because prior to then we lived in the country and DIDN’T LOCK THE BLEEPING DOOR. Even when we *gasp* left HOME ALONE at age 10 for overnight the door wasn’t locked. Ironically no ax weilding loggers/hunters/hicks ever showed up to butched us while the folks were away.

  89. Emily February 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    @Walter–I honestly don’t know. Either my parents believed that there was a law against leaving under-twelves home alone, and had to take it seriously, because they’d be disbarred if they were caught, or they made it up, because they either didn’t trust me, or they read too many scary headlines in the news, and were paranoid. Either way, I got my house key at twelve, and I really liked having some quiet time alone every day after school. I’d have gone insane if I had to wait until I was 16, or 18, or 21, to be alone in my house, at all, ever.

  90. Jennifer Tobin February 19, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    My husband bought his first house when he was 20 so I’m not sure how that would work! I know I was given the key to the house when I was 8 years old because I kept using the `hidden’ key to let myself into the house. My dad was usually home for us after school but on occasion had to teach, so a high school student babysat us. Our bus got us home about 5 minutes before her, so we used to wait on the front porch until she arrived. Problem was, she sometimes forgot us or was late so I used to go get the hidden key and let us in so we could call her mom. My parents realized that me fishing out the hidden key all the time was more of a security threat than me carrying a key in my school bag. Common sense!

    We have a keyless entry to our home with a keypad. By the time the kids were five, they figured out the code after watching us do it so we just gave them the code. The kids are really good about covering up the numbers as they key it in (something we learned from the kids!) and not to share the number. My son is a `worst-case’ thinker (where did he get that from?) so he understands that telling anyone the number puts the family and our belongings at risk and more importantly, our trust in him.

  91. Connie February 19, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    Like many others here I had my own house at 21. I didn’t have a key to my parents home until high school – because we didn’t even lock our doors until then.

  92. Vanessa February 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    I can’t imagine not giving a kid a house key until they’re 21. I had one when I was 11, and my 14-year-old has had one for at least a couple of years. She’s actually more responsible about locking the front door behind her when she comes home than I am – I’ve left it unlocked overnight a few times by accident, but she never forgets.

  93. Donna February 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    What a joke, my mom had 3 kids by the time she was 21 and owned her own home. I’m the oldest and we were latchkey kids from the time I was in the scone grade.

  94. Dulcie February 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    I remember getting my first house key. It was shortly after my sister and I were locked out of the house and had to sit outside in the Wisconsin winter for an hour before our parents got home. I think were were about 10 & 12. Apparently they thought it was safer to entrust us with our own keys rather than letting us sit in 15 degree weather.

    Our kids don’t have their own keys, but only because we don’t lock our house.

  95. Lori February 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    My kids get their key in 3rd grade, same age they start riding a school bus instead of walking. They also know the garage code, but need a key in case of power outage. I’m not really that concerned about “home security”; compared to most of our neighbors, we have nothing worth stealing.

  96. ShadowL February 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    After reading this site for so many years, I really should stop being surprised with anything the “experts” come up with.

    I had a key to my house at age 9, with explicit instructions on how to secure it, use it, and not lose it. I’m with Dulcie, I don’t even lock my house unless we are going to be gone until after dark or overnight.

    I gave my kids house keys when they were 7 and 11.

    The “experts” seem to think that no parent(noun) in the world actually parents (verb) any more.

  97. SKL February 19, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Yeah, my mom was 17 when she married my dad, 19 when she bought her first house and had her first kid. LOL. I’m thinking my granny was the one without a key to my mom’s house at those “traditional” ages. Ha.

    On the other hand, my mom still grumbles at how she was by law under my dad’s supervision since at 17 she was considered an “infant.”

  98. ebohlman February 19, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    lollipop lover made a very good point: even if kids are too young to be home alone, giving them keys so they can let themselves in means that nobody has to drop what they’re doing just to let the kids in. For example, the kids don’t have to wait half an hour because Mom is taking a nice long bath. Or changing the baby. Or stuck in the bathroom with norovirus. Or taking a nap.

  99. Fugazi February 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    O brave new world……..

  100. CrazyCatLady February 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Ebohlman, I have to say, that I rarely lock the doors to my house when I am home, so stopping what I am doing is not something that happens.

    Right now, the large dogs let me know of most people who come to the house (except they don’t bark at the people who feed them when we go on vacation.)

    But I only think I locked my door when home in my first apartment, when I basically lived above a bar. Other than that, only at night, until we got the dogs. Oh except with my first, who would walk out in the snow in bare feet when 2. I locked the door during nap time, when I was napping too.

    I guess if I felt I had to lock the doors during the day when home, that I probably would feel that it was not safe for my kids to be outside without me. Thankfully I have not had to live in that location yet.

  101. Lauren February 20, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    When I was 21, I had a husband, baby, and the keys to my first house.

  102. bmommyx2 February 20, 2013 at 2:49 am #

    I think I got a key in the first grade (age six) just in case no one was home when I arrived from school

  103. bmommyx2 February 20, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    once upon a time you didn’t have to give your kid a key, you just left the door unlocked

  104. Nancy February 20, 2013 at 2:59 am #

    Wow. I had my first pair of keys when I was six. I walked myself home, let myself in, and managed to not burn the place down for MANY years. In fact, when I became a teenager, I was not prone to having house parties. My childhood best friend was NOT allowed this, and had to have a babysitter well into her teenage years. When we were growing up though, her overprotective mom trusted my judgment more than she trusted her daughter’s. If I ran into trouble, I could usually figure out how to sort it out, and I had made enough mistakes to know what kinds of trouble to avoid. By the time I was 12, I was taking a bus across the city to go to ballet lessons because there was only one car available. How are kids going to learn to be responsible if they’re never given any responsibilities?

  105. Andrew February 20, 2013 at 5:59 am #

    Perhaps “the key to the door” is a peculiarly English tradition.

    There is a music hall (vaudeville) song from around 1911 which has a chorus “I’ve got the key to the door, never been twenty-one before”. The key referred to is really the symbolic key to adulthood, but over time has been conflated with a physical front door key. I expect most people have a key to their dwelling place well before they are 18 or even 16 these days.

    People sometimes worry about “latchkey kids”. Apparently the term was coined by NBC in 1944!

  106. Teri February 20, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    @Andrew, as I said upthread, the “key to the door” is a symbolic gift, traditionally a silver key with a number on it, given on reaching legal adulthood, which was historically at 21, and is now at 18.

    I have never known anyone who has conflated “the key to the door” with a house key. The phrase is synonymous with growing up, and directly linked with the assumption that the new adult will soon be leaving the parental home and starting their own life as master or mistress of their own house. The gift of a key represents the key to the new house that new adult will be moving into.

    As such, it’s a symbol of gaining full independence, and not, as the article writer implies, an extension of infantilising young adults. And I suspect the writer knows that and is deliberately misrepresenting the tradition (lying) in order to further an agenda.

  107. Violet February 20, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    It is a security risk because they lose keys. At least my son loses his key. I got two more keys for my kid because he, well, he lives here. If I lost the key, I’d get another one!

  108. Maria February 20, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    My daughter got key for her 8th birthday, just like her brother did before her. 8 is the youngest age a child can be legally left home alone in Maryland otherwise, they probably would have gotten keys sooner.

    Not that any of this matters, my son usually prefers to stuff Little Sis through the dog door when they get home anyway. I don’t know why they prefer that to the key and actual door but they do.

  109. Havva February 20, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    @ Maria,
    I had to laugh at the dog door access. I remember a friend down the street had a hide a key. One day it was missing, and the gate to the backyard was padlocked because of the new dog. So she helped me clime a tree jump on to the brick wall. Walk three houses down along that wall, then jump down, crawl in the dog door, and finally open the front door to let her in.

    Honestly it was a pretty fun adventure. A ridiculous amount of the fun was squeezing through a door sized for a small dog, knowing my friend didn’t fit and that in a year I probably would never be able to do that again.

  110. Aimee February 20, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    My son has had keys to the house since he was at least 10. Frankly, it’s been useful to us when we, the parents, have accidentally locked ourselves out, but DS had his keychain clipped to his beltloop! Ten-year-old saves the day!

    At 21 I shared an apartment with a friend, and by 22 I had my own apartment. No help with the rent from my parents in either case (wouldn’t have wanted it!). And the apt came complete with keys.

  111. EricS February 20, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    What a bunch of corporate nimrods. It’s not the age, it’s the mentality, attentiveness, and know-how of the child. I know kids under 10 who are more responsible than some 18-21 year olds I know. I got my own house keys the day my parents let me walk to school on my own, and that was at 6 years old. Because my parents worked full-time, me and my siblings would get home before they do. Which is why they also taught us how to cook. So if we got hungry when we came home from school, we could fix a light snack before dinner. Or if we wanted to play before they got home (either stay late at school with friends to play in the playground, or go to the park across the street from my home), we could lock up and go out till the street lights came on. Again, this was in a time where crime rate was much higher. And I grew up in lesser appealing part of the city. Not quite ghetto, but not upscale either. Plenty of crack heads, hookers, homeless people (sane or insane). Drunks, assaults, robberies, these were all common in our area. Sure people were wary, but they weren’t paranoid. And it’s that wariness that instilled street smarts in all the kids during that time. Not to mention, community was much tighter back then as well. Where adult strangers became second eyes to parents. Just like it is now, most strangers aren’t out to get your kids. After all, at one point or another, our closest friends were strangers.

    It really irrates me when corporations use fear as a means to profit. They instill this kind of mentality, so that parents feel compelled to comply. I’m all for keeping our kids safe, but many things these days are just so overboard and unnecessary. In fact, many of the “normal” ideas today, are actually pretty detrimental to our kids mental and emotional future. It’s a fact that today’s children are much, much less sturdy and adjusted as kids 20 years ago and earlier. Kids can’t learn what they aren’t taught, and they need to be taught many things. Sadly, what they do learn, probably shouldn’t be taught to them, because it makes them weak in mind. ie. Not given the responsibility to have their own house keys. Because they aren’t considered responsible or intelligent enough.

  112. AG February 20, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    I got my key when I was in second grade, which is when we moved and my paents started locking the door. I was never home by myself at that age but I always had a key “just in case”.

  113. EricS February 20, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    @Havva: lol. That just reminded me of when I forgot my keys at home one day. I was about 9 years old. We lived in an apartment building on the second floor. A lot of the kids in my building went to the same school I did. Including a couple of brothers. One was my age, the other was a year older. At the time, we didn’t keep the balcony door locked, and there was a window from the stairwell right beside ours. So the older brother climbed out the window, made his way to our balcony, and opened the door for me. Yes, many kids back then did things like that. It wasn’t mindless, non-thinking risks. We never did things we weren’t confident in doing. But we did work on our confidence to be able to eventually do those things. Climb trees, balance on a log across the creek, build tree houses (yes on our own), walk EVERYWHERE, play EVERYWHERE (within reason and common sense), and even talk to strangers.

    Kids aren’t dumb. They are highly observant, even if they don’t seem like it. It’s parents that make them “inadequate”. I find parents confused their kids by telling them something that is triggered by their own fears. While the kid sees it with simplicity and common sense. But because their parents are telling them another thing, they automatically question their own rational, and become insecure with their decision making, all because mommy or daddy were paranoid. And they instill that paranoid mentality in their kids. I listen to mine all the time. I even ask him questions about why he thinks what he thinks, or believes what he believes. Either to enforce/support it, or to steer him the right direction if needed. To me, it’s all about HIM. Sure I get a little nervous every now and then when he’s climbing higher than normal, or he wants to help me hammer nails, but I don’t allow that to affect how HE grows up. I give him a chance to be a kid. So he knows how to be an adult when he gets to that age.

  114. Mary February 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Our 13 year old daughter had the keys to the house but lost them, now we will have to change the locks when we really cant afford to. I have to rush home from work every day now to let her in. Luckily I only work until 3pm.

  115. pentamom February 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    “It is a security risk because they lose keys.”

    But why is that a security risk unless the keys can somehow be identified as belonging to your house, which could only be true a tiny percentage of the time?

  116. Elisabeth February 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I remember when I lost the keys to my house at age 14, until my dad managed to get me a new set, I would just leave my bedroom window open so i could climb in that way…

    Seems like the bigger security threat to a home is not kids having keys but kids NOT having keys.

    BTW, my 14 y-o loses her keys every few weeks. Then she borrows her 10 y-o brother’s who has NEVER lost his keys. The tendency to lose things is clearly not just a function of age. And no one who finds my daughter’s keys is going to be able to identify to whom those keys belong unless they are smart enough to figure out which girl in town is into both Green Day and Hello Kitty.

  117. Warren February 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    @Mary,

    Did the lost keys have a name and of address on them?

    Never put indentifying anything on a key ring. That way they get lost, and all you have to do is replace the keys. My kids total have lost four sets over the years, and not once have we been robbed. If it is just plain old keys, they have no way of knowing which home they open.

  118. JJ (other JJ) February 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    I wonder the same thing about a lost house key. Why is it a security risk? Once I lost my house key jogging and my friend begged me to change my locks for security reasons. I live in a city of 3 million people! I don’t think any burglar would consider it worth his or her time.

  119. Donna February 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    “Our 13 year old daughter had the keys to the house but lost them, now we will have to change the locks when we really cant afford to.”

    Why? Did your daughter lose keys with her address on them? Otherwise, what is the scenario you envision that makes you feel the need to get locks changed? I’m just curious as to where your mind is going here.

  120. Katie February 20, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    In many places around the world people don’t even lock there homes or have the ability to have a sold door where a lock could be placed.

    Even in the United States there are people who don’t lock their doors. A hall mate of mine didn’t and nothing bad ever happened.

  121. Lea February 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    I had a house key at 7 or 8 because I was staying home alone. I’ve lost keys a lot through my life. I still lose them as an adult. It’s lead to me showing the kids how to break into the house, many times.

    My kids get house keys whenever they start coming home when we’re gone or asleep. No particular set age. I think the oldest was 11 when she got one. Our 10 and 11 year old have pocket knives though.

    Insurance companies would hate me. Not only do my kids get keys way before 16, at least four people that don’t live in our home, have keys to it. They are friends, we aren’t worried.

  122. Katie February 21, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    At our house there was a semi-annual hunt for the house key–before we went to grandma’s on Christmas Eve and before we left for our summer camping trip. The doors never got locked in between.

  123. Let_Her_Eat_Dirt February 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Kids as a threat to “home security”? Don’t give kid a key till he or she is 18 or 21? Are these people for real?

    “Liability” and the fear of lawsuits have deranged our culture. It’s as if we can’t use our common sense or act with common decency lest we “expose” ourselves to liability.

    Give the kid a key when he or she seems ready. For some kids, that might be age 6; for others it might be 13. But I can’t think of any reason why I’d wait beyond that.

    Let Her Eat Dirt
    http://www.lethereatdirt.com
    One dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls

  124. Cynthia February 22, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    I think the data is a bit misleading because back in the 70s and early 80s when I was a kid, no one locked their doors in our neighborhood. Parents didn’t give keys to kids because there was no need to. If kids are responsible enough to be left alone in the house, why not give them keys? I’d like to know how many threats to home security have been the result of access via a misplaced key. Minimal if any, I would guess.

  125. Shelley Rigger February 22, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    I’ve been reading this site for years, and I’ve thought about commenting lots of times, but this one really blew my mind.

    Someone is actually recommending that a child should be able to drive a car, but not let herself into the house.

    That is full-on crazy.

  126. Jen Connelly February 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Huh? My dad grew up in the 50s and had a house key at like 6 or 7 just in case no one was home when he got out of school (his parents worked split shifts but there’s always the chance they wouldn’t be there).

    I got one at 12 I guess because I kept coming home super late from the next door neighbor’s house (like at 1am!). My mom was a stay at home mom so there was almost always someone home. And if someone was home and we were outside then the door was unlocked until we came in. It’s the same with my kids. Our front door is unlocked unless everyone is in the house or they’re all at school (have to put the chain on to keep the 2yo from wandering off although he only opened it once and only went on the porch).

    I can’t wrap my head around the idea that giving kids under 16 a key is some new phenomenon. Every heard of “latch-key kids?” Most of my friends in elementary school in the 80s had keys to their houses because their parents both worked.

  127. Emily February 23, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    I agree with Shelley Rigger. Who here saw that big news story about the irresponsible teenager who got really drunk and drove his house into a tree? No one? Oh, yeah, that’s because it could never happen. Hence, a young person staying home alone is much safer than a young person driving, so obviously, staying home alone should be the privilege that comes first.

  128. LegalMist February 23, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Seems to me that, by the time they are 18 or 21, they should be moving OUT and no longer need a key!!

  129. Beth February 24, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I wish the people who believe a lost key with no identifying information is a security risk would come back. Because I’m not seeing it; seems like part of the way-too-much-credit that we give to bad guys. Would someone finding a key really go from house to house to house trying to find where it fit?

  130. Marge May 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I’m trying to find the legal limit when I can give my child a key to let herself in.

    Web search uncovered this:
    http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/general/leaving-house-key-with-children-can-cause-psychological-problems-1.955263

    ROFL!

  131. Timontytär August 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    I got mine sometime between 1992 and 1994, when I was 5-7 years old. I never actually used it until age 9, because my mum stayed home from when I was born until I started school (age 7: I live in Finland, the land of latch-key kids). In first and second grade I went to an afterschool club at an English-speaking kindergarten (daycare, for you Americans), but in third I started making my own way home on (GASP!) public transport, with my then-7-year-old brother in tow. We would arrive home before Mum maybe a day or two per week, in which case we were able to let ourselves in and get a snack out of the fridge all on our ownsome. Even these days, any afterschool programs offered only extend as far as the beginning of third grade.

    16? I wasn’t even living at home at that age! I’d started vocational school about 200 km from home and was living at our country place, where I never even bothered to lock the door unless I was going to be gone for several hours.