Children and mobiles: should you give your child a phone?
Pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
By: totanaliz on: Mon 17 of Sep, 2007 [12:58 UTC] (744 reads)
With reports stating that mobile phone ownership for the 7 – 10 years age group has doubled over the past 3 years, it may be time to take a step back and look at the effects this could be having on our children.
Subscribe to Type-A Mom articles
When I was a child, if I was going to be late home or had missed a bus, I relied on my friend’s parents or a public telephone booth to relay the news. Now I know the world we live in today is not as safe, and today’s children have a more varied lifestyle. They travel further and many live between two homes, but is it necessary for them to be in contact with the outside world 24/7?
There are benefits to owning a mobile phone…the safety issue is the most obvious, and most parents report this as the main reason they bought the phone in the first place.
But the question we must ask ourselves is do the benefits outweigh the risks of mobile phone usage?
On the negative side:
- How many parents rue the day they handed over the phone because they no longer see their child without it clamped to the side of their head?
- Studies concerning the long term risks of mobile phone use are still inconclusive, but health experts recommend that usage is limited.
- There is a dramatic reduction in family communication in “real time”.
- Homework suffers because of constant interruptions. And experts believe that literacy standards may be affected by the use of “text language”.
- Children spend all their available money on airtime, not hobbies. Some children even get into debt as their mobile usage spirals out of control.
- A study by the UK Home Office indicates that children of school age are 5 times more likely to be the victim of mobile theft than an adult, and almost 48% of victims in the UK are under 18. Check out the figures for your area and country before you make a decision to let your child have a phone.
- The stress and pressure it puts youngsters under is palpable…”If they have my number, why haven’t they called?” Many measure their popularity by how many texts they receive. It feeds the “Somebody wants Me” need every child has.
On the positive side,
- You should be able to keep track of your child´s whereabouts better.
- In an emergency, your child has their phone to call for help.
- Used responsibly, it can teach them about budgets, controlling expenditure, and being sensible with money.
- Their social life may just improve! If they can get off the phone long enough to get out of the house!
- You can at least use your landline again.
If you do decide that having a phone is right for your child, lay down the ground rules BEFORE you even hand over the phone!
Do not allow the phone to be switched on at home, or past a certain time.
Insist the phone is funded by them. This should curtail the usage or at least ensure they know the value of their airtime.
Explain that owning a phone comes as a privilege, not a right, and it is one that can be taken away if abused.
We all agree we want our children to be safe, but is giving a child a mobile phone is allowing us to be more relaxed about parenting essentials? If we know we can call our kids to find out their where-abouts, do we need to ask them before they leave the house? And do we need to set down exact curfews if we can call to say it is time for tea? Nothing can replace good old fashioned rules and respect, and anyone thinking about equipping their children with a phone should look carefully at whether their child is ready for the risks and responsibility that comes with it.