It's hard to imagine life without cell phones. To my kids, the idea of living in a world without cell phones is as outlandish as living on the Moon.
As parents, we are in the crossover generation: we did not grow up with cell phones, yet now, we've become dependant on them. The dilemma many of us face is: when is it okay for our children to have phones?
I asked around and although I was able to find people who had differing opinions about smartphones and data usage, there was one common theme: safety.
Related: WHO Says Increased Screen Time Harms Children's Health
No, kids should not have cell phones.
Catherine Adams Mansueti, mother of three (ages 19 years, 16 years, and 3 months)
It's my belief that children under 16 are unable to handle the responsibility and potential cyber bullying that comes with a smartphone. The amount of information available on the Internet is overwhelming, inappropriate, and often times not based on facts. Add to that the various social media sites that are ever changing, the potential for cyber bullying is extremely high.
Most parents are not monitoring their children's activity, and even if they are, there are so many apps and sites that we are unaware of. With apps such as Snapchat, there is now a portion that shows you where each user is located by using a map. I believe this is a huge safety concern. Always "checking in" allows anyone access to your location 24/7. That is a huge safety concern.
Children, and even adults, will say things behind a computer they would never say to someone's face, via text, Facebook, Snapchat. I understand phones are important for contacting your children with so many after school activities, sleepovers, and such. Fewer payphones & landlines exist.
There are, however, phones available that allow for text and calling only. This is more than a reasonable option for children under 16. Internet usage can still be available on a home computer, where parents can install safeguards to help keep their children safe.
Related: Keeping Kids Safe: Moving the Conversation to Tricky People
Yes, kids should have cell phones.
Raquel West, mother to 2 kids (age 15 a n 11) and stepmother to 2 kids (ages 10 and 9)
Like many other families these days, we do not have a landline in our home. We have a 'family talk plan' for our kids who have had phones since they've been walking home from school alone. When they were younger they had iPods that were hooked up to home wifi so they could text or face time us if we had to step out to walk the dog or run to the store for milk.
In their growing independence, with them doing more and more things on their own, a phone is necessary for safety. We do not include data, only texting and calling for safety so they can reach us or we can reach them after school or when they are needing to be picked up from extra-curricular activities. My four kids are also back and forth between three different houses so it's a lot of moving pieces. The phones are a way for us to stay in touch. It's easy for them to text they have arrived when we are in meetings, after school, or any other time.
Our kids having their own phones give us peace of mind, but it's also added more responsibility to our parenting roles. Checking and being able to access their phone is important, knowing who they are calling and receiving calls from, also to know what they are texting etc. You have to step up as a parent about checking in with your child's device on a regular basis.
Where do you stand on the topic of children's cell phone use? Share your opinion in the comments section below.