When I heard that the smart folks over here at littleye R & D were developing a “safe browser” for the iPhone and iPod Touch, it got me to thinking about kids and cell phones. Of course when I was in grade school, cell phones only existed pretty much in the movies (remember the phones in Wall Street?!), then in high school, pagers became popular. But those were pretty much reserved for the wealthy kids, or … ahem … drug dealers. So, that all being said, I’m certainly not THAT old, so the whole cell phone/smartphone in schools conversation is a relatively new one.
I do have young kids, however, and my oldest is getting to the age where some kids are actually using iPhones and the like. In fact, recent studies have shown that 31% of 8-10 year olds have cell phones! That seems like a staggering stat to me that basically, 1 in 3 8 year-olds has a smartphone. I guess my question is … why? It is difficult to for me to see why an 8 year-old needs a phone, unless there are very specific medical, safety or emergency uses for it. Of course, on the flip side, 5 years ago I would have thought that nobody actually “needs” access to emails, web, phone, Twitter, Facebook, etc. all day every day, but it often feels like I can’t survive without these things! My excuse is, I need it for business… yeah right.
If you do have young children, and even pre-teens and teens, check out this article over at Parent Dish on Kids and Cell Phones: What Parents Need to Know. It offers up some terrific questions to ask yourself before you go out and add junior to that family plan. Their stance is purely neutral on the subject, but the point is to arm you with information and put the responsibility into the parents’ hands. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make sure your kid uses this technology responsibly, if you choose to go down that road. In addition, there is also the health risks involved, with certain studies citing a strong link to brain cancer and cell phone use while others argue the contrary. The bottom line on this is, if your kid does you a cell phone, there are certain precautions that are simple and effective, like using a wired headpiece, that it just makes sense to do them. And with most phones now having Internet access, parents will need to be more diligent about online safety, and the new littleye feature can certainly help with that.
by Grant Stoner