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?
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