Should children have mobile phones?

There will come a point in every parent’s life when the inevitable question will pop out of their child’s mouth, “can I have a mobile phone please?” In the current age of technology, this is bound to be sooner rather than later – children of younger and younger ages are getting mobile phones from their parents. However, it’s not a cheap SIM free mobile phone your child will be after. No, they’ll want the latest iPhone to hit the shelves or the app-tastic SIM free HD HTC Desire so they can show off to their friends. After all, you’re not cool unless you’ve completed all of the Angry Birds games.

But it’s not just the addiction to games that’s off-putting for parents of smart-phone-wanting-children. The internet is a dangerous weapon when in the hands of a child – especially after you’ve gone through all the trouble of child-proofing your home PC. Why would you want to ruin all your firewalling by handing your eight-year old a gateway into the uncensored and uncontrollable?

There is also a danger of children becoming absorbed in real-time social media updates, gaming and constantly texting their friends – and although the sole purpose of getting your child a mobile phone is for better communication, it is likely that their communication with you will be greatly reduced.

However, being able to let your child go and see their friends without worrying so much is a luxury that can only be found in mobile phones. You’ll be able to check up on them whenever you want, they can let you know when they want picking up, and you’ll be able to find out any changes in their plans without having to sneakily flick through their diary…

We can’t promise they’ll tell you everything though, you remember sneaking off to the park without telling your parents when you were a kid, right?

Keeping your child safe with a mobile phone

Of course, the day will come when you decide to hand over your child’s first piece of responsibility – to keep them safe, here are five quick tips to keep in mind.

  •  Make sure your child keeps their phone out of site – having it sticking out of a back pocket or dangling from a belt will only make them an easier target
  • Be aware that WiFi enabled Smartphones can, and will, get around any firewalls you’ve set up on your desktop computer. Have a talk with your child about netiquette if you’re entrusting them with the internet in their hands.
  • Discuss social media with your child before giving them a Smartphone – the risks of their own reputation as well as letting the world in on where they are.
  • Make the time to familiarise yourself with the website, and teach your child that it’s OK to report inappropriate behaviour whilst surfing the web on their phones.
  • Register the phone for a minor, that way, access to explicit sites will be limited – if you buy the phone straight from the shop, this will happen automatically, however if it is passed down from a family member it’s worth enduring being on hold for half an hour to put these restrictions in place.

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  2. Shamika Reichard says:

    Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog based upon on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.