As the mom of a five- and three-year-old, the topic of children-and-cell-phones isn't a major issue in our household just yet. But I’d be lying if I said my husband and I hadn’t discussed it. There are some instances in which our kids having a cell phone (Someday. In the not-TOO-distant future) would be, not only handy, but comforting.
Our son, for instance, has life-threatening food allergies. Knowing that he has a way to contact us in case of a severe reaction would, possibly, help me breathe a little easier.
According to USA Today, 16 million teens and younger kids currently have cell phones. And, says an informal poll on the About.com Pediatrics site, the majority of parents think the age at which it is appropriate for children to have cell phones is 10 to 11 (34%). Only one percent of voters believe kids shouldn’t have cell phones at all.
There are a few interesting choices for parents looking to put a cell phone in the sticky hands of their young offspring. The Firefly and Leapfrog’s TicTalk are two simplified cell phones aimed at kids as young as six. And Kajeet, a pay-as-you-go cell phone service, offers an online configurator for parents to determine such options as what times of day their kids can and cannot use their phones and who is allowed to call or be contacted on your child’s phone.
There are myriad implications, of course, in allowing our kids to have cell phones. Is providing them with this sort of technology so early in life promoting too strong a sense of entitlement that, in only a few years, will require faster, better, more expensive gadgets to satisfy? Is maintaining a constant connection to our kids really all that healthy? Does it encourage them to come running to us when they encounter a minor snafu, rather than figuring it out themselves or contacting another trusted adult?
I don’t have the answers, but there must be a middle ground. Somewhere. And I have to admit, I like the idea of being as accessible as reasonably possible to my kids.