Tech Blog

Back To School 101: Do Younger Students Need a Cell Phone?

by Blogger on ‎08-18-2011 11:41 AM - last edited on ‎03-06-2012 11:33 AM by Administrator

choochiphone.jpg Charlie is not quite 20 months old and he already has his own iPhone 3G.  Granted the internet is turned off and it’s not connected to a cell network, but for the past 4 months he has toddled around the house with the phone at his hip swiping between apps and having imaginary conversations with it.

My older son, Zacharie, was a phone fanatic too - I lured him to take his first steps by holding the phone in front of him like a carrot.  The childhood addiction to phones isn’t new, I’m sure many of you pulled an old school rotary model around your house on a cord when you were kids. 

While the fascination with phones isnt new, the portability and accessibility of phones has changed.  Our kids get their own toy phones before they can walk, so why are we shocked when your 8 year old asks for the real thing?

As we head back to school over the next few weeks, parents are asking themselves - is now the time to get my child their own phone?

3/4 of American teens (12-17) have their own phone an increase from just 45% of teens in 2004.  If you talk just 12 year olds, the number is now nearly 60% versus less than 20% in 2004. [Source: Pew Internet]

Kids say they feel more grown up with a phone on their hip, while parents feel more connected to their kids; it becomes a digital tether so they feel comfortable letting them wander.  You can’t just stuff your kid with quarters and ask them to use a payphone when there’s a problem - when was the last time you saw one of those ancient devices?

Schools, on the other hand, are trying to get a handle on the distraction the handsets cause in the classroom.  Some school districts have banned them in the classroom, while others are loosening rules that were once very tight.

Phones are an entry drug to digital addiction.  We are addicted to checking our social networks for no reason and getting your kids hooked on this habit an early age can’t be beneficial.

One parent's story and rules around why they gave their 10 year old a phone can be found here.


What's the age range you think is appropriate for kids to start carrying cell phones? What are the ground rules that should be set to encourage it's used responsibly and isn't a distraction?

by Exalted Expert / Community Ambassador ‎08-18-2011 12:21 PM - edited ‎08-18-2011 06:03 PM

Until a child has a job to afford the voice and data plans, they should not have a phone. Until then, money should be saved for tuition and books.


Perhaps the only phone I want for kids is the discontinued Migo.


It's a shame the technology is no more, I want it not for kids, but to track disoriented seniors who want their freedom.

by MrDisco Emerging Expert on ‎08-18-2011 12:28 PM

There is no reason kids need a smartphone. a basic phone ok maybe if you're an overprotective parent, but otherwise no way. Even more ridiculous are thsoe parents buying young kids ipads (et al) thinking they hold some kind of educational advantage. they don't.  you wan't to give them an advantage? read to them. take them to the library. build things. create. not surfing tmz and texting gossip.

by Blogger on ‎08-18-2011 07:38 PM

Guilty as charged parent with an iPad, Mr Disco.  Curious - how many kids you got?


I also read to my children, take them to the library and the park.  Play puzzles, sing songs, and play board games.  It's all about balance. And mine is just fine, thank you very much.

by Exalted Expert on ‎08-20-2011 12:42 PM
The problem isn't technology, but rather what you do with it. Unfortunately some parents use things like iPads and smartphones as a substitute babysitter, similar to the TV. But I know parents who gave their kids iPads and sit with them reading books on it or teaching them to write. The problem isn't with the iPad itself, but rather how parents use it. If it becomes a babysitter, that's not good, but the iPad can also just be another toy/tool like the many others out there. As long as it doesn't become the center of attention, that can be just fine.
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