I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but I have seen more and more elementary kids carrying and talking on cell phones each year. I see more and more of these kids wearing a full sized iPod. Kids have computers and TV’s in their rooms. Am I being an old fashioned fuddy duddy by dragging my feet with this trend, or could there be good reason for caution here?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my little iPod shuffle. Obviously, I enjoy having my computer with internet. And I greatly appreciate the convenience my cell phone usage has provided me for the last several years. But does my nine year old need all of this at her complete disposal too? And her own version of each one of those? Hmmm….it just really makes me think about what fits for our family and our situation.
My daughter said there are kids her class getting cell phones soon, and that a few already have them. So I asked her what made her prepared to basically carry two $100 bills around in her bag or her pocket all day? She doesn’t ride a subway or need to walk 15 blocks to school through a difficult neighborhood. We don’t have work commutes that require us to leave her alone for long periods of time.
I can’t imagine an “emergency” situation (her words) that she would be in where she wouldn’t be nearby a responsible adult or babysitter of my awareness and approval. When she’s a teen and would have earned greater freedom and mobility – I can see justification for that. But at nine, and in our neighborhood so close to school and friends? I’m not seeing it now.
As soon as this conversation started, I launched into my own story about how my dad gave me and my sister use of a gigantic bag phone twenty years ago. It cost a dollar a minute to talk, and if there were minutes charged on the bill, it had better be from an emergency or car-related incident. She kept saying “that was a long time ago,” which is true. And I’m sure that if cell phones had been small and cute back then, a lot of my friends would have had one. But somehow we all survived without them.
She may get an iPod for some kind of gift some year, certainly before the cell phone, but I’m in no hurry for that either. And I understand that homework has changed in many ways because of technology, but I’m not sure she or her sisters each need their own computers. We already have two in the house as it is.
Parents, what do you think? I know that my viewpoints are rooted in the way I was brought up, which was with restraint when it came to “the latest” fun things or having lots of freedom. I know some of you may have different opinions and viewpoints. Are there times when a cell phone for an elementary school student is justified and a good idea? What do you think about kids having more expensive technological gadgets at their personal disposal in general? Does this compare to a kid twenty years ago having their own CD player or “boom box”, or is this completely different?