Cell phones are an integral part of kids’ lives. According to research by C&R Research, 22 percent of young children own a cell phone (ages 6-9), 60 percent of tweens (ages 10-14), and 84 percent of teens (ages 15-18. And cell phone companies are now marketing to younger children with colorful kid-friendly phones and easy-to-use features. According to market research firm the Yankee Group, 54 percent of 8 to12 year olds will have cell phones within the next three years.
With cell phone usage growing rapidly for children and teens, we offer the following information and tips for parents:
The Upside to Cell Phones
Health and Wellness Help: Programs that deliver personalized text messages that help a person with dieting, remembering to take medications, or encouraging them to quit smoking are gaining in popularity. For instance, one company is exploring the ability to send photos of what you are eating via your phone’s camera so you can communicate with a nutrition advisor about that food.
Safety: The benefits of cell phones in emergency situations is undisputed. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 74 percent of Americans say they’ve used a cell phone in an emergency. In addition, some emergency agencies are encouraging cell phone users to put “ICE” (in case of emergency) in front of names of people in your cell phone directory whom emergency personal should call in case of an emergency. New phones using GPS technology allow parents to track the location of a phone and thus, hopefully, their child.
Convenience: No one can argue the convenience of being able to reach your child immediately, or a child being able to reach his parent, in the case of a sudden change of plans. Also, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that approximately 41 percent of cell phone users say they multitask by making phone calls while commuting or waiting – a time-saving option almost unheard of 10 years ago.
© 2004-2008 Center on Media and Child Health, Children's Hospital Boston.
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