I like to view myself as a laid back person, heck with a past like mine it’s difficult to draw judgement over choices folks make. There are a few things that do rile me up, one of which is the topic of children and cell phones. I don’t mean a teenager, although I did love the recent letter Janelle Burley Hofmann wrote to her 13-year-old son regarding his new cell phone.
What I’m talking about can be seen in the realm of elementary schools. In the hallways, at recess, walking home and anywhere else these young children can be found….I’m talking about putting the responsibility of a cell phone in the hands of a child.
Get ready folks, I guarantee you that you’re going to have an opinion here and I most certainly want to hear it.
As I look around and see these wee human beings texting, playing games and scouring the internet it strikes me that they may not even be able to properly spell the words they’re Googling let alone pay the bill.
There’s irony in that.
Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see a child strolling around using up data enjoying the latest apps and yet the adults in their lives probably don’t expect them to be responsible to work the washing machine on a regular basis.
Times have changed and although I’ll go with the flow on many things, I won’t be granting the cell phone wish any time soon.
My eldest daughter just turned 9 years old and the requests (begging) for a smart phone is in full force. At first when this began over a year ago I laughed it off, not able to believe that her peers were actually toting these devices around. Slowly it’s become apparent that it’s not unheard of and in fact in many circles it’s common.
Can Someone Explain Why a Freakin 9 Year Old Needs a Smartphone?
Color me overprotective but my 9-year-old daughter has no need for a smart phone because she’s not left unsupervised long enough for the need to arise. Personally I don’t believe she has reached the age where her safety and judgement are assured without supervision so the only reason I can see for a cell phone would be attributed to a want.
Want, ah yes the proverbial pain in my behind.
These days the wants are loudly proclaimed here, often merging into the need factor. I’ll admit that I often feel the guilty pull to give into demands because “everyone” is getting one but a cell phone?
I’m drawing that line and putting my head in the proverbial sand until the fall out recedes.
Cell Phones Have Risks
Handing over a cell phone equipped with a data/text/phone plan is more than a gift. It’s my opinion that in doing so we’re handing children free access to the world without having us a buffer.
When a child is given the gift of a cell phone we are removing the filter and choosing to rely upon a child’s judgement.
Putting aside the potential costs of purchasing a phone and the monthly bills, we as parents must understand the risks attributed to the phones.
Children these days catch on to technology very quickly and while this is a benefit it also desensitizes them to the potential for harm.
Companies like Telus offer up information and training for parents. While I’m not planning on signing up for another phone in the near future I did check out their Mobile Safety site and here are just a few of the risks they list:
Text /Multi-Media Messaging Risks
- Texts containing private, personal information could be sent to the wrong address
- Texts containing personal information could be shared with other users and misused. Once the user sends the text, control is lost
- A child/adolescent could receive harassing/unwanted texts/IMs, and/or spam text messages which could contain inappropriate material
- Children/adolescents whose mobile phone does not feature unlimited messaging use could be racking up large bills without a parent’s knowledge. Remember that MMS and information messages would fall outside of “free unlimited” texting offers – you will incur charges for these things
Camera/Video Phone Risks
- Photos/videos sent to other users can be reproduced, altered, or posted online without the subject’s consent or knowledge
- Photos/videos can disclose a user’s appearance and location
- Text messages containing photos or videos could be shared with other users
- Camera/video phones can be used to photograph or videotape a subject without his/her knowledge
- Some public facilities have banned camera/video phones—your child/adolescent taking a picture could be considered a crime
Internet/Mobile TV Access Risks
- Like personal computers, mobile phones with Internet capability are vulnerable to spam, viruses and other malicious content
- Children/adolescents whose mobile phone does not feature unlimited Internet/TV access could be racking up large bills without a parent’s knowledge
- Can impact learning at school if restriction aren’t placed upon cell phone use
Global Positioning System (GPS) —”Social Mapping” Risks
Most cell phones come equipped with GPS, which means that users can be located and pinpointed within a few metres, and can tell users where they are located on a map.
For today I can honestly say that the risks associated with my child having a cell phone do NOT outweigh the benefits.
What do you think, what age were your children when you felt they were responsible enough to factor in these risks?
Have you actually done enough research, because frankly until I began researching this post I wasn’t aware of the magnitude. In my case it’s an easy choice, until my girls can line their boots at the door properly the conversation is closed and me thinks that’s a ways off.
This isn’t a sponsored post, nobody has asked me to blog about this and yes I actually have a spare iPhone here……and I’ll proudly look my 9-year-old in the eye and let her know I love her so much that I’m going to allow her to stay a little girl for a while.
I’ll have to learn to handle the fact that I’m not the coolest Mom on the block anymore.
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