My daughter, recently, had her group project peeps over at our house for a work session and the 12-year-olds (a boy and a girl) both had cell phones with them. When the three kids went off to walk to the library, my husband insisted our daughter take his cell phone with her for security. My take: Really? Is 12 the right age to have a cell phone?
I grew up without a cell phone. If I needed to call my parents I used the phone at the neighbour's home in which I was playing. If my parents needed to reach me they yelled out the front door. This was ol' skool communication. However, it seems the landscape of childhood has changed...
My 12-year-old is one of the few in her class that doesn't have a cell phone.
According to mediasmarts.ca, "...young people ages 13 to 24 are the largest group of wireless phone users." I wonder...when do they find the time?! School, sports, homework, household chores, showers and sleep...there are only so many hours in a kid's day...when do they squeeze in uber-phone-usage?
According to the Statistics Canada 2009/2010 Census at School, after in-person communication kids preferred communication with friends is: Internet chat text, Facebook or blog, Messaging, Telephone (landline), Email and Cell phone. I totally "get" that today's child generation is digital. My 12-year-old never talks on the phone but connects via email with her friends, study partners...and even me ("Dear Mommy: How are you?")
But is a cell phone a communication tool or entertainment unit for a tween?
Back in the fall, I saw my daughter and her classmates at lunch in a park. Most of the kids had cell phones out. Most were either video taping each other or watching YouTube videos together. Neither activity pulls me to get my daughter a cell phone.
When, on the odd occasion, my daughter has asked "When can I get a cell phone?" my reply has always been "When you can pay for it." I've heard of teens racking up data charges (which...if you think about them watching youtube videos on their cell phones during lunch as in above example...$$$). Who pays for the phone?
And then, of course, one has to consider the Pandora's box one opens when a child gets a cell phone—cyberbullying, texting, sexting—and all the rest. I'm not sure I'm ready for this.
Cell phones are certainly a lifeline of communication. But do 12-year-olds really need them?