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Should Kids Get Their Own Cell Phones?

By Marc Courtiol

Although it may sometimes be hard to imagine life without cellphones, most grownups can recall a time when we were not all in constant touch with one another, and when every household shared a single stationary phone. And because most of today’s parents grew up in that world, many have a somewhat traditionalist attitude when it comes to whether to give their own kids cellphones. Many feel there is no reason a child needs a cellphone, while some take a more modest approach, allowing that it may be a good idea to provide their kids cellphones at, say, 14 or 15, when the social life picks up.

Whatever your feelings on the matter, it is important to realize there is no right or wrong approach. There are plenty of arguments in favor of giving kids cell phones, and there are also some good reasons not to. For anyone now contemplating the issue, let us weigh the pros and cons of both sides.

Reasons to give kids phones
Among all the reasons to give kids cellphones, there is one that strikes most parents particularly close to the heart. Namely, cellphones make it easier for you to keep track of your kids. No longer must parents be left guessing when their kids stay out past curfew or fail to touch base for a few hours. With a cellphone, your teen will have no excuse not to keep your apprised of what is going on. So even if you generally do not embrace technology, this is one area where you might want to make an exception for both your own and your kids’ sake.

Another factor that should not be overlooked is the importance of letting young people live in their own time. While parents may have a sentimental attachment to a simpler era when technology was not so ubiquitous, there is just no getting around the fact that things have changed. Technology is an important part of today’s world, and cellphones are a big part of it. So by depriving your child of today’s technologies, you may be setting her back not just socially but also in terms of her long-term success. Cellphones and other new technologies surely involve a lot of mindless activities, but they also help build skills that will be important in the coming years.

Finally, let us face it: There is a very good chance that all your child’s friends are going to have cellphones. If it has not happened yet, then it will probably happen when your child reaches his or her teen years. Sure, we do not have to go along with something just because everyone is doing it, but for young people that social factor is huge.

Reasons not to give kids phones
Cellphones, especially today’s smartphones, involve a lot of mindless, unproductive activities. All time spent texting, surfing the web, or playing games, is time that could be devoted to more productive things like studying, exercise, and quality time with family. Kids already have enough going on in their lives. Why complicate things further with a time-consuming gadget?

Meanwhile, it is no secret that most kids are more tech-savvy than many of today’s parents. So no matter what type of limitations you try to impose on your child’s cellphone use, there is a good chance that he or she will be able to get around your restrictions and use the phone for things that you do not intend. So, in other words, giving your child a cellphone opens a can of worms that you may not want to deal with right now.

Inside that can of worms are many things that can be scary for parents. There are a few frightening cellphone-related phenomena that have made headlines over the last few years. Sexting and cyberbullying are particularly scary, and cellphone use obviously elevates the risk that these things will occur. Plus, the simple fact is that today’s kids have taken to texting with a disconcerting fervor. If you do not want to have your child constantly tapping away at that phone during homework, at dinner, in the car, and so on, then you might want to avoid providing a phone-or at least impose strict limitations on when and how the phone may be used.

And ultimately, there are ways around all these issues. For instance, you can provide your child an old-fashioned cellphone-that is, one without all the smartphone bells and whistles. One that simply makes and receives calls may be good enough. Another option you might consider is to limit the hours of the day when your child has access to the phone. Keep the charger in a central area of the home or even in your bedroom, and make a rule that the phone must be on the charger at certain hours of the day. Be creative, and do whatever you need to do.

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2 Responses to “Should Kids Get Their Own Cell Phones?”

  • Jake:

    My team and I are working on a new kind of service – an app that takes over any Android phone and turns it into a kid-friendly smartphone with GPS location and full parental control from the web.

    If you’ve been thinking of giving your child a phone but are hesitating and think you’d like to have some control over how your child uses their phone, our service might be right for you.

    If you’re interested, please email me at jakeyenom@gmail.com and we’ll get you set up in under 5 minutes.

  • Wombi:

    I am a strong believer that technology not only makes the learning process much more fun, but it also creates allows a more hands-on experience for kids! If you are interested in other educational products for kids, I would check out our educational apps! 🙂

    Best Regards
    Wombi
    http://www.wombiapps.com

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