Kids and Cell Phones: How Young is Too Young?

by Samantha on October 17, 2011

How young is too young for a cell phone?

It may seem like a strange question, but I’m really curious. 

Increasingly, I’ve seen kids as young as six and seven toting mobile phones, chatting away and texting. Often in the presence of their parents, whom I can only assume are the purveyors of these phones.

Does anyone else see a problem with this?

I understand the arguments: safety, tracking, security and otherwise, but I really have to wonder. Is a cell phone really necessary for a child, and if so, what is the appropriate age to provide one, and why?

Way back in the Stone Age when I was a kid, there were no cell phones and I had to contact my parents the old-fashioned way – via a land line. When I was old enough to go out somewhere on my own or with friends, I called them from – gasp! – a pay phone! Now I get that these relics of antiquity are no longer in existence, or if they are, they’re few and far between, but they served my purposes just fine. They got the job done.

 

 

I may appear at this point to be shooting myself in the foot and sabotaging my own argument by saying that there no longer exists a wealth of pay phones on every corner. This, evidently, poses a problem for parents who want their kids to remain in touch. It seems like the cell phone is the obvious and only choice in these instances. Furthermore, many households have abandoned the old-fashioned land lines of yore, choosing instead to stay connected through a few mobile phones for each family member. In these circumstances, there is no choice but to provide a phone to even the youngest child right?

Wrong. 

There has to be a cutoff point as to where we draw the line. How young is too young? Frankly, I’m uneasy when I see children of six and seven talking on cell phones. Disregarding the possible health risks, there are clearly other potential problems that could result:
  • Early cell-phone use in children has been suspected as the cause of increased behavioral problems
  • The cell phone becomes yet another distraction, taking away time from schoolwork, family time and more
  • Text-messaging can decrease kids’ abilities to communicate effectively (e.g. spelling, grammar)
  • Parents have less control over whom their children have communications with
cell phones mobile phones
 

 

All that being said, I will concede that this is a different world, a different time from when many of us grew up. Times change, technology advances and what was non-existent just decades previously now becomes the norm. Such is the case with mobile technology and cell phones in particular. Nevertheless, I’m still taken aback when I see a kid who’s not old enough to participate in many of the attendant privileges of adulthood chatting away on a cell phone. But that’s just me.

So I’ll put it out there: How young is too young for a cell phone? How do you feel about kids and mobile phones? Would you get one for your child, and if so, at what age?

Images courtesy of http://debroffdebrief.clubmom.com and http://aztextpress.wordpress.com

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