By Margarita Nahapetyan
Today it is very common to see children talking on cell phones everywhere - in schools, on the bus, in the stores, even at home, while sitting next to the home phones. After their very own gaming stations and music systems, modern kids have gone way too forward to demand their own cell phones. Like any other technology, cell phones have some advantages and disadvantages associated with them.
Yes, children do need a safety mechanism and having a cell phone in the pocket does provide additional protection in the form of determining whereabouts and phoning in case of emergency for help. But what people do not understand is that most of the kids are not using the phones for the emergencies for which they were intended. For parents, an emergency qualifies as any situation that may pose an actual threat to their children, no matter real or perceived.
Another item that can possibly be considered as an advantage for kids having their own phones is the fact that handling a cell phone might train the child to be responsible for taking good care of their devices and keeping within their spending limits. However parents should make sure whether or not their kids are ready to deal with this kind of responsibility.
Having their own mobile units can lead kids to all the probable ways in which phones can be misused. It is one thing when parents are happy that their child gets more comfortable with modern technology, but giving them their very own cell phone at an early age might turn them into mobile junkies who are addicted to their mobile phones which offer many other entertaining things, such as phone games, e-mailing, music downloads and instant text-messaging.
Parents must remember that no study has proven yet that mobile phones are absolutely harmless and do not pose any threat to health. The antenna in most phones now is located inside the phone device and does not protrude out. This means that cellular frequencies are closer to the brain. The natural question which comes to ones mind is how early we want to expose our children to cellular frequencies on a regular basis? How early they should be exposed to the cell phone radiation?
Whether or not to get a child a cell phone, it is only for parents to decide, however there are few things that will not hurt to consider before getting one:
Does a child really need a cell phone?
Is it affordable for family?
Is a child responsible enough to handle his/her own phone?
If it comes to kids whether they need a phone or not, the answer is definitely going to be 'yes,' of course. And what is their reasoning? "Cell phones are cool." "All of my friends already have ones." "I will call home whenever I am late." " I can call home when I need help." And so on.
Of course, getting a phone just because it is cool, unless it is a birthday present, or some special reward, is not really a good reason. And why should you get your child a cell phone if all of his/her friends already have ones? Your child can always use a friend's phone to call home. So, there is only one good enough reason left that really makes sense. Having a cell phone to use in case of an emergency.
Another benefit from having a cell phone from a safety viewpoint, but for a younger children, is when they stay later in after school programs, or spend time with another parent on the weekends. In addition to being used in emergency cases, cell phones can be practical and very convenient, for example if children need to be picked up early from school, or, just the opposite, when parents are being late for them.
Good advice for all parents would be to avoid fancy and expensive phone models which can potentially pose a threat to children by attracting muggers to them. In addition, text messaging, internet access and online chatting that are provided by most telephone companies, make children more vulnerable to external dangers that cannot be controlled by parents.
So, if you finally made up your mind to get your child a first cell phone, you might consider a model that is specially designed for younger children and which has a lot of parental controls and limits in place. To be more specific, many of such phones limit who can call the phone, do not have access to Internet, text-messaging and chatting, have GPS tracking, letting parents know the exact location of the child all the time, and have also pre-paid minute plans, so you do not worry that your child will lose a sense of "minute usage" and your wallet will not suffer.