Cellular Development: How old is old enough?
Parents, Pre-teens and Phones
In a poll released last month by HighlightsParents.com, parents reported their conflicted feelings about kids and cell phones.
Parents responded to the site’s questions about how and when they and their kids use mobile phones. Ninety-seven percent reported owning a cell phone themselves, but only one-third have given a phone to their child. Sixty-two percent had a mixed response to a cell phone’s overall presence in their daily life, calling it “useful, but annoying.”
Seventy-three percent of respondents selected 13 or older as the appropriate age to give a child a cell phone. Only one-quarter of respondents thought it was “OK” for 9- to 12-year-olds to have cell phones.
Despite many comments reflecting worries that cell phones are distracting to kids and disruptive to other activities, many parents want their children to be reachable in case of emergencies, even while at school.
“While there are clear benefits to the use of a cell phone, parents need to make their expectations about its use clear from the start,” says Istar Schwager, an educational psychologist and consulting editor of HighlightsParents.com. “In addition to insisting that phones remain off at family meals and other gatherings, parents should talk with their kids about the negative consequences of constant talking and texting, revealing too much, sending inappropriate photos and ‘cyberbullying.’”
HighlightsParents.com is created by Highlights for Children, a magazine for children. The magazine’s editorial office is located in Honesdale.