How young is “too young” when it comes to kids with cell phones?
By Kelli Warner,
KMTR-TV Morning News anchor, Springfield
When we posted those questions on our KMTR-TV Facebook page recently, the responses poured in immediately.
Here’s the reality: according to research from the Yankee group, more than 50% of “tweens” these days have a cell phone. A “tween” is a kid who’s typically between 8 and 12-years-old. More than 50%. I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback by that. As a mom, I repeatedly discourage my 11-year-old’s constant request for a cell phone. I tell him he doesn’t need it. I feel like he wants it more for a status symbol—because “everyone else has one…” and not because it’s really necessary. He doesn’t walk to or from school. If he really needs to contact me while he’s at school, the school office has a phone. Or because “everyone else has one…” I feel like there will always be a phone at his disposal, should he need one.
But maybe the real reason I’m not keen on giving my kid a cell is because as a news reporter, I’ve covered stories were cell phones invited trouble: kids who overstepped their texting privileges, or flat out abused them. I gained insight about what does and does not go through the minds of adolescents when I reported on a “sexting” incident at a local high school. A girl at the school sent a naked picture of herself to a boy who—surprise!—forwarded it to a few buddies. Long story short—the police got involved, the kids were humiliated, and it never crossed their minds that what they considered harmless could be considered a crime under Oregon law.
Kids and cell phones. It’s an issue full of opinions on both sides. Parents whose kids carry cell phones have reasons for allowing it. And those whose kids are phoneless, can tell you exactly why that’s the case. Will I ever relent and allow my son to have a cell phone? I’m sure I probably will; when he’s older and it serves a purpose for our particular situation. I don’t know when that will be, but that responsibility will come with rules, that much I know. It will also come with consequences, should those rules get broken.