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What do you think of young children with cell phones?

May 25th, 2010 / 5 Comments

In this series of 10 Hot Button Parenting Issues, here is #9:cell phone

More parents are looking to cell phones to help keep their children safe. What’s your opinion about giving young children their own cell phone? (

My question is:  How will the cell phone keep a child safe when the child is not safe?? If he was abducted, you expect him to call you? “Hey mom! I’m bound and gagged in the trunk of a car right now, but miraculously I can reach my cell phone and call you. Can you come get me?”

Parents who normally will not allow their kids to go to the mall on their own will let them go when they have a cell phone. I don’t get that. If you don’t think the mall is a safe place for your young child, how does having a cell phone make it safe?

Another example: Parents tell their children to use the cell phone to call when they reach their destination to make sure they are there safely. Say the kid is walking to a friend’s house, and told to call mom when he gets there. Well, what happens if he doesn’t call? What happens if he didn’t get there safely? No call from the cell only informs the mom when the kid is already in danger, it doesn’t keep the kid from danger. Isn’t it a bit late by the time you realize your child didn’t arrive safely at the friend’s house?

A cell phone gives parents a false sense of security. You think you can reach your child anywhere, or your child can reach you if they are in trouble. In reality, a cell phone is a convenience, not a safety device.

We gave my daughter a cell phone when she started high school. She uses it to call me if she needs to stay after school for a meeting or to ask if I can give her friends a ride home. Would a child younger than high school age need to call me for those types of reasons? I don’t believe so.

Up until high school,  I made sure I knew where my kids were, or I was there with them. If I felt it was unsafe to walk to a friend’s house, I’d drive them there myself. If I felt going to the mall with their friends was unsafe, I’d stay at the mall with them.

When they reached high school, they had more autonomy and I didn’t need to be with them everywhere. The cell phone gave us access to each other, but it certainly does not protect them in any way.

I know, a lot of young children, I’ve even seen first graders, with cell phones. I admit, it is convenient to be able to call and say, “I’m in front of the school to pick you up, where are you?” or “I got caught in traffic, stay in the office till I get there.” But I think having the cell phone short circuits some of our parenting responsibility as well as the children’s responsibility. Without a cell phone, we would make prior arrangements to make sure the child is always be at a safe place, whether we are late or not. We wouldn’t take the risks as we might with a cell phone.

There are undoubtedly many good reasons to give a cell phone to young children. If you and your children use it properly, I don’t have a problem with it. But I’ve seen too many people use the cell phone to do what we should be doing as a parent.

And I haven’t even started on the problems of children’s misuse and abuse of the cell phone that gives more reason not to give young children cell phones.

What do you think of young kids and cell phones?

Next Hot Button Issue: Allowing underage teens to drink at home.

(See the first 8 hot button issues in the series: #1 co-sleeping, #2 homeschooling, #3 spanking, #4 childhood immunizations, #5 medicating children , #6 the cry it out method, #7 breastfeed or bottle, #8 baby wearing)

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  1. I agree that there is no real security in having a cell phone at such a young age.

  2. there is a young child who was kidnapped and was able to I think txt a friend from his cell phone who called 911. but yes I think you have good wisdom that the cell phone is false security and kids are not going to be responsible enough till maybe at least middle school. I also think kids should help pay for their own cell phone which will teach them money doesn’t grow on trees 🙂

  3. cathy, it’s great if the cell phone actually saved a child’s life, but I wouldn’t depend on it. It’s interesting that he texted his friend, not his parents…hmmm.

  4. […] #9 young children with cell phones […]

  5. Hi, I’m a teen and I agree that parents don’t have much security with their child just because they have a cell phone. I also think that phones are convenient only when your child hits the teen years. I write for a parenting site called Radical Parenting and it has parenting advice from a teen’s perspective. There’s an article you should check out that has a different view on this topic and tips. Thanks!


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