Modern-day parents feel often more secure and have greater peace of mind, when their children are equipped with their own mobile phones. The kids can be contacted at any time to make sure they are safe, and parents will also know that if their children are ever in an emergency situation, they can be contacted, and can quickly come to their rescue.
While the advantages of kids having access to wireless and mobile technology seems apparent, there are obvious downsides when it comes to the classroom environment, and some schools have already put a ban on mobile phones on school property. Indeed, as cool as the child thinks it may be to talk and text all day long, it can at times be quite disturbing to others, especially if the youngster is boisterously loud, or uses inappropriate language.
Children should have be told about cell phone issues, such as the dangers of driving while talking or texting on a mobile, cyber-bullying, and phone etiquette. The better informed the children are, the more advantages their mobile phone will bring.
The use of mobiles will increase a child’s responsibility. They have to avoid losing it, charge it when needed, stay within their cell phone plan’s minutes, and choose who they want to talk to or not. As much as adults often refuse to accept the fact that their children are as vulnerable as the ones next door, a mobile is another way to communicate with the outside world, a reality parents have little supervision over. A phone is a two-way communication system, and where one can dial out, and receive calls. There is no way to tell who is on the other end, and even though it may just be a very good friend checking on homework assignments, it may also be a sex offender, well protected by anonymity, and most likely, pretending to be someone else. This can be extremely dangerous when the handset comes equipped with complete internet access, with web browsing capabilities, email, chat, and instant messaging, all features which are much harder to filter and control.
If children abuse their parent’s trust, the privilege of a mobile phone could and should be taken away, or limited. Parents do have the ability to put strict limits on what the phone can do, including turning off web access and text messaging. Some phones have special control settings that can be programmed to reject incoming calls from unwanted individuals, and will also allow you to configure which phone numbers the kids themselves can dial. Parents who have complete confidence in their children’s phone use can allow them full feature access and easily add them to a cost-effective family plan, which may include unlimited texting. Pre-paid or pay-as-you-go service plans manage the time spent on the phone, and these types of mobiles most likely come with less features, yet will still serve the needs of most youths.
Rewarding a child with a mobile communication device can be quite an adventure and, as with many gifts, will come with advantages and challenges. Some of the disadvantages can be controlled, while others cannot, even with PIN encoded phone book, and call screening. It will be up to the parents to decide if they trust their children enough to hand them the power and freedom of a handset, or if they will delay the decision until the child is older and acts with more maturity.