July 14th, 2005
Please Hold; Does an 8-year-old Really Need a Cellphone?
Dallas Morning News
Any parent will tell you that the day his or her child learns to talk is a day for rejoicing. Problem is, it won’t be long after that before the child asks for a cellphone.
Look out, Collin County. Walt Disney Co. and other companies are targeting cellphone service to kids as young as eight years old. Just think Mom and Dad, it’s 8-year-olds now, but don’t be surprised if some day your 3-year-old child’s Pokemon ringtone interrupts his nursery school group’s sing-a-long of "Wheels on the Bus."
Seemingly, that’s the evolution of the cellphone. The smaller and cheaper, the more people have them - even really young children whose parents should ask, "Do they really need this?"
The marketing spin is that cellphones allow parents to keep in touch with their children and permit kids to have private conversations with their friends. Call us old fogies, but how much telephone privacy does a young child need? And maybe, just maybe, sitting down at dinner together is a better way to keep in touch than a hurried text message.
It takes a responsible child to not abuse the privilege, and a diligent, involved parent to avoid the temptation to substitute technology for real parental connection. Parents, resist the temptation to phone it in.
Just sift through the piles of research concluding that excessive video game playing and television watching can be detrimental, especially to young children who can develop poor learning habits. Are cellphones - particularly those loaded with games - any less of a distraction?
We’re not Luddites determined to smash the next thing with a computer chip in it. But we wonder, as the adage goes, whether the tail is wagging the dog. And parents, you need to ask the same question. You know your kids. You know when a cellphone can be a useful tool in their lives and when it can be nothing more than one more distraction.
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