Parents Corner: Young Children and mobile phones.

I have a nine year old daughter & recently she has been asking me if she can have a mobile phone as quite a few of her friends own them. In the t technological world that we now live in and with kids today being so technologically savvy, does it really mean that we need to give our children mobile phones at the age of nine or younger? I believe that kids this young need to socialise with other kids of their own age playing in the park, riding their bikes, or playing various other outside or inside games. Having a mobile phone is good in the case of an emergency, but at the age of nine, a child is not likely to be anywhere other than school, a friend’s house or with family and all of these places have phones that the child can use, or that you can call them on.

Though a study conducted by the CSR has found that 22 per cent of Aussie kids aged between four and nine, 60 per cent aged between ten and fourteen and 84 percent aged fifteen to eighteen all own mobile phones. And a staggering 25 per cent of primary school children are allowed to take their mobile phone to bed with them. The problem is so bad that children’s sleep patterns are being disrupted as they stay up to 3 or 4am sending text messages.

What the hell? Why do four-year-old children need mobile phones? I’ve been told that it could be so that parents know where their children are. Really? You wouldn’t know where your four-year-old was? Where is a four year old going to go on their own?

I think the reason for this, is basically the attitude of the ‘give them what they want style of parenting’ that seems to be happening more and more frequently these days, as parents seem to be too busy or too lazy to stand up to their children & find it easier to just give in. So what are we teaching our children with this, that if they whine & throw enough of a tantrum they will get what they want, well I want my daughter to have values and morals and to realize that if she wants something, then she needs to work for it.

Basically that while younger kids may clamour for one, they are no more than a fashion accessory. They are expensive devices, not toys, and they require some maturity and a sense of responsibility to ensure they don’t get dropped from out of their bag, put through the washing machine or become the instrument of inappropriate text messages or images. Gee, my daughter can’t even remember to bring her hat or jacket home from school; I could just imagine her with a mobile phone.

So I have come to the conclusion that NO, she does not need one and she is not going to get one until she is of an age where she will be responsible enough to take care of it and has an genuine need for one.

I asked some of our readers for their opinions on young children having mobile phones, and have displayed these below.

Mary USA: Maybe I’m just old-fashioned — after all, I joined the cellphone bandwagon just a couple of years ago when my boss demanded I get one — but I just don’t think 8-year-olds really need cellphones. Yes, kids that age are great with technology, but that’s not the real issue. Eight is an age for hanging with friends, not talking for hours on the phone with them. Eight is an age for riding bikes and forgetting where you’ve left your backpack. Eight is an age at which parents and kids can pre-determine pick-up times.

Jenny, England:
I think it is very irresponsible to give your children technological advances at a young age. My children won’t be allowed anything of any sort until they can get a job, move out, and take care of themselves. My children aren’t even allowed to watch TV. Why? Because too much time sitting & not becoming involved in the community leads to obesity, crime, etc. It’s time to be parents and stop being friends.

Gudrun Australia: I don’t think they need them, plus in my opinion it is not a good way to teach them about personal economics seeing as though they would not personally have to pay the bill etc. Even my son who just turned 16 does not have, and does not need a mobile phone. Kids ‘need’ these things to keep up with the trends, because they learn from their parents and peers that material objects and gain bring status, friends and personal happiness. I think of the gadget age as a similar type of thing as the drug culture, “I wanna be cool and fit in so I do as all the other hip and up and coming people do”. Reflection on our society sadly, on how we value people, our values and friendship etc. Kids have forgotten how to do anything these days that does not involve gaming systems, internet or texting, everyone needs to encourage their kids to read, learn and grow in more healthy and normal ways.

Vigdís Florida: I am not a fan of children having a cell phone, unless it is the type that can only dial a preselected number (like home, mom’s cell, etc.). Phones are a nuisance and distraction in school and web enabled phones open kids up to a host of bad Internet stuff and people. Considering it is 3am and I am laying in bed with the iPhone, swapping between Facebook, the forums, email, the “Angry Birds” game and text messaging, I feel qualified to make the claim that there is such a thing as “phone addiction”. Hahhahahaha All kidding aside, it can seriously feed an existing tendency to shy away from people and retreat to the perceived safety of online/phone/email interactions only. Kids and teens need to have friends and go do things, not live in the Matrix.

Confessor Priestess, Australia:
I on the other hand have bought my 8 year old a mobile for Christmas. It is a prepaid one, have put locked numbers in it and she can’t call anyone else. I did this as she lives with her dad and she says she wants to be able to call me whenever without asking her father. She calls me more now which is good for her and I. Normally I don’t like it, but in this different situation, it works for us..

Morrigan: I hate mobile phones, i just got one after having none for 7 years and only because we have no house phone and if I go into labour at home alone I need to be able to call my husband. I would hope that a kid under the age of 13 is either @ home or their parents know where they are. Nowadays all you see is people on mobile phones texting, I find it very annoying.

David, Australia: My 12 and 13 yr. old daughters have them. I think too young, but their mother disagrees. Not only do they spend all day talking shit, it doesn’t motivate them to do something else. Contrary to belief, I do think they emit EMF waves which are not good for developing brains. I encourage them to text. I also boot them off the computer and tell them to climb a tree….

Jason, Perth Australia: My daughter, Jasmine, has been terrible this long weekend because of her addiction to Stardoll on the internet, so I’m against young children having mobile phones.

Brendan, Perth Australia: From a young person’s point of view, I never needed one until high school. A couple of kids in primary school did have one, but in my view, it is not required. I was allowed one when I got a job and paid for my own credit.

Mel, New Zealand: I have been going through the same thing with my 10year old Daughter. She wants one as her friends at School have them. I refuse to get her a Cell Phone until she is at the age where she will be responsible enough to be alone without any Adult supervision. At this stage she doesn’t need one as she is not old enough to be without an Adult companion. When she is old enough to be in town or away with friends, I will reconsider this situation but until then I don’t think she has a need for one at this age.

WAU America:
My 16 and 17 year old have them. It’s part of their father’s phone plan. They both pay $20 a month out of their own pockets and although that certainly doesn’t cover the bill it does give them a sense that if they want one, it costs money. I’m in favor of them having one. Although I know their friends and in general where they will be and when they are going to be home, it helps me check up on my car, which I haven’t seen much of since the 17 year old got her license.

Micke SHS Switzerland: It depends on the level of maturity, around 14 years, I think.

HomeFront Issue No 13


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