Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
About one-third of the children between the ages of eleven and fourteen have cell phones. Consequently, with that victory out of the way, the mobile phone industry is now switching their target group to a younger age of children. The age group of six to nine year olds.
Parents need to know where their children are
What parent wouldn’t want to know where their child is at all times. The idea behind giving a smaller child a cell phone is so that parents or other guardians will know where their children are on a constant basis.
Another reason is to allow children the ability to call 911 or another designated number in case of an emergency.
This reasoning is very acceptable, as we are all aware of the increase in crimes against children, such as kidnapping and rape. But we need to be knowledgeable as to what kind of cell phone we should give to specific age groups or even maturity levels.
There is danger in lack of knowledge
One other concern consumer groups have is some children are not mature enough to handle certain phones and their capabilities. For instance, I read a statement somewhere that was referring to cell phones and children’s safety. The statement went something like this, “a cell phone can give the child access to the world, but it can also give the world access to them.” I have not forgotten that statement, and I do not think I ever will. Especially when you know, there is an increase in internet crime.
And, when it comes to internet predators on children. If your children can receive emails and pictures, then they can also send them. This means, these pictures and messages can also end up in the wrong hands,or shoud I say, the wrong screen. Many exercise gyms are now not allowing cell phone cameras in the lockers because of the chances of the wrong kinds of pictures sent out over the internet.
It is a real horrible shame that those things happen, but the reality is, they do. You as parents need to talk to your children about cyber bullying and the use of emails and web sites. If they are receiving messages from bullies or receiving messages they are uncomfortable with, encourage them to tell you. You can at least change email addresses and/or phone numbers while the proper authorities work on the cause and solution of the problem. The most important thing to remember, is that when you give a child a cell phone, they need to be mature and responsible enough to handle it. One solution here might be to purchase a cell phone with pre paid minutes and no expensive and extra features.
There is more evidence from studies conducted in Europe and Japan now even the United States about the hazards of overuse of cell phones. In 1993, Dr George Carlo, a leading epidemiologist was actually hired by the cell phone industry to discredit the rumors about cell phones being a health hazard. After six years of research, the Dr found quite the opposite. I will quote him so I get the facts right. “Cell phones interfere with pacemakers. The developing skulls of children are penetrated by the energy emitted by the cell phone. The blood brain barrier, which prevents invasions of the brain from toxins, can be compromised by the cell phone radiation. Radio frequency radiation created micronuclei in human blood cells, a type of genetic damage known to be a diagnostic marker for caner.” If your children are going to use the cell phone, tell them to use a headset.
A couple of other solutions for both the problems of the right kind of cell phone for the age of the child, and the health and predator hazards.
* A child phone called TicTalk is on the market. The phone looks like a cell phone but has no keyboard. Adults can input up to 23 names and numbers that can be dialed or received. The child scrolls down to find the right number to call. He or she can them communicate by holding their phone to their ear, using the speaker, or ear bud. This TicTalk is used like a walkie-talkie. It also comes with five educational games.
* ChatNow is a walkie-talkie. There is no cellular network to deal with. However, kids can text message their friend up to a two miles radius. The parents simply keep the walkie-talkie units re charged. There is a built in camera, but there is no way to send them over the internet because they are not hooked up.
In this ever popular and increasing age of technology, there are many problems, and sometimes not always straightforward solutions. Nevertheless, the key for children and cell phones is to decide which kind your child is mature enough to handle. I also doubt cyber-space will ever be free of predators, but parents and children both need to openly communicate about what is right and wrong when operating the cell phones that are put in their hand.
Children need to be reminded often about the consequences of their choices. Remember that statement I wrote earlier about cell phones and exchanging messages and photos? “ A cell phone can give the child access to the world, but it can also give the world access to them.” Please be careful.