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.


  1. Posted by AMLucas on July 27th, 2005

    Every industry will try to get their foot in “where it will fit in” if they can.  The parents are the ones who will have to be responsible enough to avail a cell phone to the child for use.  My, now 9yr old, son has been asking for a cell phone since he was 7.  He still does NOT have one.  I only allow my two teenage children to use a prepaid cell phone when they are going to be away from me for an extended period of time; and I have instructed them on how the minutes work.  When they run out, it’s all over.  They can’t call their friends and if they do, they run the risk of not having use of the phone in an emergency.  I don’t feel it’s a bad thing, but the parents ultimately have to act like parents and guide their children into a place of using technology wisely.

  2. Posted by on August 9th, 2005

    cell phones for an 8 year old, im 8 im a flipen 8 yearold i would only use it at school parents are flipen mean

  3. Posted by KAREEM on September 9th, 2005

    i dont thing kids of 8 year need a cellphone because thier not doing any business.cellphone is for busines.if parents thing there kids one for vacation parent can get prepaid phone for the kid

  4. Posted by sandy on September 12th, 2005

    my step daughter is fixing to turn 11yrs old. Her mother wants to get her a prepaid cell phone for her b-day i think she is to young she is only in the 5th grade. mind you she does not live with her mom she lives with her dad and me. i also have a 7 yr old that is our child i don’t want him to feel like he should get one when he is 11 because sissy did.

  5. Posted by Ramona on January 24th, 2006

    I’m seventeen and have no want for a cell phone.
    I think highschoolers should start off with a pre-paid and when they get a job, they can pay for their own. that way they know what they are getting into.
    Honestly, Its nice to have a cellphone when things go wrong, but they are a total distraction. 

  6. Posted by A Mom on June 2nd, 2006

    I believe cellphones for kids have their advantages and disadvantages.  I, for instance, have children that live with me but spend time away from our home with their father.  There are many instances where I have been unable to reach them or that he will not allow them to call because it is “long distance”.  He will not help them with a calling card.  I can see where a prepaid cellphone would be an advantage in this situation.  As far as a young child just “having” a phone for whenever, I don’t think it is necessary.

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