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Should Kids Have Cell Phones?

Should kids have cell phones?  There is not a clear-cut right or wrong answer on this hotly debated subject.  There are, however, advantages and disadvantages that each family should weigh for themselves and make the decision that’s best for their situation.

The advantages of kids having cell phones are as follows: 

  • Kids can be easily reached. Is it time to get all the kids in for dinner? Rather than hunt them down in the neighborhood or holler their names out your back door, you can just call each of them on their cell phones. Oh, and no more panic wondering where your kids are.
  • Parents can be easily reached. If you are scheduled to pick up your daughter after her club’s nature hike at 7:00 p.m., but the hike is concluding early, your daughter can use her cell phone to let you know that she needs to be picked up earlier than expected.
  • In the event of an emergency, kids can more easily contact their parents. If your kids are on a school bus trip when there is an accident, your kids can call you and tell you that they are ok and they are being taken to XYZ hospital for an examination.
  • In the event of an emergency, kids can be located using the GPS that is built into cell phones. If your teen has gotten caught in a blizzard, the white-out conditions caused him to veer off the roadway and come to rest off the shoulder of the road, and he doesn’t know where he is, you can have law enforcement find your son before hypothermia sets in by using your son’s GPS in his cell phone.
  • Your kids can learn to keep track of and protect their assets. By being responsible for their cell phone, kids can learn to keep track of it (not losing or misplacing it regularly) and protect it (not damaging it negligently or intentionally).
  • Your kids say, “I’m bored” less often. On long road trips or other occasions when your kids express boredom, cell phones give kids opportunities to stay in contact with their friends, play games, surf the Internet, and do other things that keep them from feeling bored.

The disadvantages of kids having cell phones are as follows:

  • Cost. Cell phones themselves, monthly contracts, etc.: all involve cost.
  • Loss of familiarity with your kids’ contacts. If your kids have a cell phone, they may be speaking with or texting a group of people that you may not know. If your kids only had access to your house phone, you would more likely know who was calling, who your kids were talking with and being influenced by. Additionally, if your kids have Internet-connected cell phones, your kids can develop contacts with people and websites that may be harmful to them. For example, sexual predators often pose as young people seeking peer-level friendship.
  • Loss of family face-to-face interaction. Kids with cell phones often become so “into” their cell phones that they will talk and text nearly incessantly. This reduces their time spent in face-to-face interactions. Further, this may reduce the value that kids place on face-to-face interactions.
  • Distraction. Kids who text while walking, driving, or performing other tasks can risk their safety. The same risk (albeit to a lesser degree) occurs when kids talk on their cell phones while walking, driving, or performing other tasks.
  • Increased opportunity for getting into trouble. Kids who use cell phones during school can be disciplined and their phones can be confiscated by the school. Kids who are still learning their boundaries can get caught up in sexting, cyberbullying, and prank calling.
  • Loss of quiet/alone time and loss of appreciation of quiet/alone time. With 24/7 connectivity, kids may become dependent on connectivity. Thus, quiet time or alone time may become a negative or uncomfortable experience for kids.
  • Loss of independent decision-making. Many kids today over-involve their friends and family in their decision-making. If teens are uncomfortable making even routine decisions without speaking with their friends or parents first, loss of independent decision-making has become a problem.

While there is no one right or wrong answer, by weighing these advantages and disadvantages, you can make an informed decision that is best for your family.

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2 comments to Should Kids Have Cell Phones?

  • Hello-

    My answer may not be popular- but YES- we did give cell phones to our children when they were young (4th and 6th grades). The reason was simple- we live in the metropolitan DC area. Cell phones seemed like a logical way to allay all of our worries and fears in the shadow of 9/11, the DC sniper and the anthrax acts of mail terrorism. Our daughter was extremely adamant that we give her the cell phone when her “safe area” during the sniper crisis was a closed art closet. She was so frightened after being in lockdown for a few hours, that if she could have made one call it would have made all the difference in the world.

    Thanks for allowing me to weigh in.

  • Mrs. Smithers

    I’m going to have to agree with Louise and say yes as well. The safety of my kids is the most important thing in the world to me and knowing they are safe at all times is mandatory. I decided to get them phones when they entered middle school and so far it has been working out great. They use Tracfone prepaid phones so its the perfect price for just the right amount of minutes. They are really good about it and don’t abuse their phones either (they aren’t using them at all times). I was thinking of starting to use Tracfone as well now that they are so I did my research and can’t decide if it would be better to get us all on the Family Bundle or just get an individual plan like they have? Help please!

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