When Should Kids Have Phones?

Jul 31, 2012

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Technology, a gift and potential curse, is rampant. Our society is filled with lap PC's, tablets, and smartphones. We even create new lingo for these things such as iPhone and Android. But what is the reality for children who live in a technology-saturated world? Taylor Martin wrote an article for PhoneDog Media about the reality of technology for kids and posed the question “at what age should you give your child a cell phone?”

Technology appeals to kids and adults. Parents must be on guard. Children want devices and they want them now. They beg for you to give them "freedom" by supplying a mobile device. Of course, there are plenty of good reasons why introducing children to technology is beneficial; however, there are associated risks and challenges.

You don't want your children texting at the dinner table or zoning you out as you talk to them by staring at their Facebook page via mobile device, do you?

You must weigh the pros and cons of the situation.

What are the advantages? You can contact your children anywhere, anytime. You can track your children's location via GPS. Children develop technological as well as social skills through freedom, rewards, and communicating.

Disadvantages? Children can use a device incessantly at school. The possibility of overages is always real unless the proper precautions are put into place. Mobile devices are expensive and if they must be replaced, the costs are often outrageous.

The biggest threat with giving a child freedom to use a mobile device is open Internet access. As Martin mentioned, if there is no parental control over the device with software such as Net Nanny, children can look up anything at their own discretion. They could potentially be stalked by online predators, see pornographic material, or be exposed to crude language and opinions.

While opinions differ on providing cell phones to kids, parents should take responsibility and establish guidelines for all online use. Peace of mind can extend beyond the home and beyond the smartphone, whether it's about bullying, protection from predators, excessive time online, or exposure to inappropriate content.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.