If you or I should take any "tween" (age 8-12) and give them a rotary phone, I'm more than sure we would see this "what now" look suddenly appear on their faces. The "landline", as the rotary phone, continues to become a memory as our mobile phones are quickly replacing them across the nation. One of the things we are witnessing with this shift in usuage, is the fact that our children regularly use and are adept in using cell phones.
I am sure that along with the increase usuage in cell phones, that the cellular providers and manufacturers would love to exploit the vast domain of the "tween" market. Remembering that tween is defined as "8-12" years old. Are cell phones really necessary for our kids age 8-12? Where do we as parents draw the line when it comes to "our" kids having cell phones?
There was recently a very catchy marketing phrase, which was directed at parents saying, "...begin loosing the reins and let their kids travel unsupervised". I would have to quickly tell these marketing professionals they have the wrong "reasoning" for the purpose of a cell phone. I think we would all be foolish, to believe that providing a cell phone to a child (or a teen) will automatically provide a means for them taking care of themselves, when they were unable to do so before a cell phone. Shouldn't a child show responsibility in other areas, prior to being given a cell phone. We have a child that can't keep a room clean, but we believe they will be more responsible with a cell phone?
A major question to consider in providing a cell phone to our children would be, "How will it influence their social habits?" Will it be a good thing for them to be connected to friends 24/7, with little or no control? Cell phones are quickly becoming the norm and the "fashion", as we can see, I'm sure. Our kids, no doubt, will demand they too be hip like all their friends at school. As parents we will hear "everybody has one", "why can't I have one too?", or "I just want to be cool too". I am sure we all want our kids to fit in and feel like they too belong, but since when is school "primarily" a popularity contest?
Please note the following report found on "Ask Marian":
"A small study released today from research group AK Tweens shows that girls as young as 10 years old involved in sexting, the sending and receiving of sexual messages and photos, just as 20% of their older peers are known to do. In the report, which combines reporting of both racy text messages and the more serious issue of sexually explicit and nude imagery, 30% of the respondents have already engaged in the practice. It's enough to make us all want to grab cell phones and computers away from our children in response!"
How young is too young? There are no doubts that the social lives of our children will be affected by possessing a cell phone. The question is, for better or for worse? I believe as a parent, that I will continue to stand on the "no" vote, for my "tweens".
Until the next time.