Cell Phones: How Old Should a Child Be?
In recent years, the swift advances in technology have made new devices and gadgets more appealing to a younger crowd. Already, half of America’s teenagers have a cell phone and that number is growing. So how old should children be when they get a cell phone?
The answer to that question requires an assessment of individual’s circumstances. One of the main reasons that cell phones are issued to children of all ages is the safety advantage. Cell phones provide parents with certain security benefits like being able to reach their children at any time. In addition, cell phones give parents peace of mind knowing that their children can place a call in case they are in an emergency situation. Other parents, however, are concerned with the legitimate problem that children may not be responsible enough to manage using a phone appropriately. With these issues in mind, parents should consider a few guidelines when determining what age is the right age for their child to have a cell phone.
Assessing Needs and Wants
Cell phones are indeed a novel gadget to have and they are getting cooler by the minute, but in many situations cell phones are being treated like toys. If this is the case in your family and your young child doesn’t absolutely need one for safety, then it may be wise to wait until your child has a more defined sense of responsibility. Otherwise, expensive gadgets can end up lost, broken, borrowed, or stolen.
There are other situations where a young child may benefit greatly from having a cell phone available to them. Some children may have to walk to school alone or ride an unruly bus. A child’s anxiety can be greatly relieved by knowing that mom or dad is a phone call away. Children with these types of needs can be educated on how to place a call to parents, or who to call in an emergency situation.
A Learning Opportunity
Children often catch onto the technological aspect of how to use a cell phone very easily, but it is important for them to be old enough to understand the concept of monthly phone bills, as well. Using limited plans can be useful in teaching lessons surrounding money and budgetary considerations. Even though kids are having to budget minutes or text messages instead of actual money, the concept is the same. Following this same vein of reasoning, let your child see their usage on the bill at the end of the month and put the amount of money owed into perspective by comparing it to their allowance.
Things for Parents to Remember Regarding Cell Phones
- Experts generally agree that limits are in order when it comes to kids using cell phones. Cell phone companies offer many plans specifically geared toward young children that have many helpful features such as limiting ingoing and outgoing calls. And teens, as well, would benefit from learning about limitations. After all, there is not much in life that is unlimited.
- There is ongoing research, though inconclusive as yet, that contends that low-level radiation emitted by cell phones may be a health concern, especially for children. Hopefully, more studies will be conducted to definitively answer the questions surrounding this serious concern.
- Bullies use cell phones too. Mean kids don’t necessarily shove weaker kids into lockers anymore. They are much more likely to take advantage of technology to bully them through text messaging. Parents should always keep a watchful eye out for this growing problem.
Technology is truly amazing and can be very helpful, but it’s important to understand that it will be of no benefit if your child cannot manage it properly.