Cell phones are useful, but should kids have them? See what other parents think and discuss the pros and cons of mobile phones for children. Vote and see the results about the most appropriate age!
Should kids have cell phones?
An increasing number of companies are now selling cell phones for kids. This is a fast growing market. A study conducted in the USA showed that in average children get their first cell phone at the age of 6 and that parents spend $462 per child in the latest technological gadgets. The use of interactive screen media, such as smartphones and tablets, by young children is increasing rapidly but still remains a controversial and understudied issue. Research on the children's utilization of cell phones and new family dynamics has lagged behind the rate of adoption of these products.
No widely accepted pediatric guidelines regarding smartphone use by young children have been formulated yet. Mobile media differs from television in several ways. In addition to watching videos, small children can play video games, use educational apps and communicate with friends online. Smartphones offer new interactivity and can potentially absorb more time of children lives than previous forms of entertainment and older mobile phones.
Pros and cons of cell phones for kids
- Safety: if the children have phones their parents can always reach them and they can always reach their parents. Moreover there are some tracking applications that serve to keep children under control and know their whereabouts. In fact a study by Child Guide Magazine found that 31% of parents bought cell phones for their kids for security reasons, in case children needed to contact parents. Phones have served the police to locate children that were lost in the forest or mountains.
- Educational value: new interactive media, such as smartphones and tablets offer kids the opportunity of learn while playing. There are apps that help children learning math, languages, acquiring spacial skills, etc. Phones with internet connection can help them to look for concepts or words they do not understand and thus have a positive impact on children's education.
- Responsibility: mobile phones are expensive. Owning a phone can help them develop a sense of responsibility and learn how to manage costs.
- Social benefits: children want to do what their friends do. Most children in rich countries already have phones. Therefore, not having a phone may be considered a sign of social awkwardness. Smartphones are a great way to coordinate activities with other kids. Thanks to their phones children are better connected with their friends even when they are away on holidays. Moreover, according to scientific research smartphones can facilitate the communication and social skills of children with autism.
- Entertainment: children enjoy their phones as they can listen to music, play video games and watch videos. For their partents sometimes it is very convenient to have them entertained with their phones while they do house chores or drive. Some games such as Pokemon Go may make children also to go outdoors and be more sociable.
- Dangers of the Internet: it's difficult to restrict access to inappropriate content in the Internet. Extreme violence, pornography, anorexia advocacy and ethnic or religious hatred are some of the contents parents would like to their children to avoind at all costs. However blocking all this content is not possible and kids sometimes find ways to bypass restrictions.
- Consumerism and social status: parents buying very expensive phones to their children may be sending the wrong message to their children. Cell phones, as clothing, can serve as identifiers of the socio-economic background, and, therefore, contribute to create differences among children in school or the playground. Only some families may afford to buy expensive devices, such as the iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy S6, for their children. Moreover the Internet is like a huge 24/7 shopping mall. Children may spend too much time checking things they want to buy.
- Costly: if children do not stick to some rules of usage they may produce great costs for their parents. Losing or breaking a phone is a common incident. Children often get their phones stolen. Moreover, they could download many applications, make calls outside their cell phones plans or use 3g or 4G without WiFi connection. Some parents have received shocking phone bills due to their children's irresponsible usage.
- Procrastination and disruption: kids may be messaging or playing with their phones while they should be studying or paying attention to their teachers. Moreover, children should spend some time playing other type of games or toys such as Lego or Playmobil, which also have educational value.
- Other inapropriate use: some children use their phones to take inappropiate pictures or videos and uploading them to Instagram or Snapchat. Smartphones have become also an instrument for bullying, sexual harrassment and blackmail among children.
Do you think the advantages of giving your kid a mobile phone outweigh the disadvantages? Are children safer or more exposed when they own cell phone? Are smartphones a necessary tool in modern life even for children? Would phones make kids more or less responsible? Share your views below!
Cell phones for kids under 10?
Most parents end up purchasing cell phones for their children. However, deciding what should be the advisable minimum age for children to get their own phones is also a difficult question. Most people would agree that a toddler is too young to deal with a cell phone, and that a 15-year-old is probably responsible enough to handle it. But when do you think parents should offer their children their first handheld? When children are 5? 8? 12?
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Should kids have cell phones? What is the best age for the first one?
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