Rising child cellphone use concerning

Phones allow access to the Internet, texting and apps, and this is dangerous for children.

Keelia Moeller

As technology continues to advance, children are accessing new innovations at younger ages. More and more children seem to be receiving cellphones at an impressionable age when texting and downloading the latest app should be the last things on their minds.

A 2012 National Consumers League study found that nearly six out of 10 parents with children between the ages of 8 and 12 provided their children with cellphones. While the majority of parents said they purchased the devices to keep their children safe, only four percent of the children received basic phones without texting or Internet access. The rest received phones with texting, web access or both.

If safety is parents’ sole concern in providing their kids with a phone, it isn’t necessary to provide a young child with a device that does anything besides call.

Cellphone use at a young age can lead to many problems, some of which ironically compromise parents’ desired safety precautions.

When police receive reports about the Internet and cellphones, the most common complaints involve child sexual predators and threats sent via voicemail or text messages.

Kids should not have unlimited access to the World Wide Web. Undeniably, some children use the Internet on computers at home.

However, giving them handheld devices on which they can access the web anywhere is another issue — it opens even more doors for predators.

Most family plans incorporate smartphones or, at the very least, phones with web access. It’s crucial to teach children who already have these phones how to safely go online.

Teaching a child the correct safety precautions with technology has its benefits. When used safely, media can improve literacy, numeracy or social skills.

There are features that parents can use to protect their children. Parental controls generally allow parents to limit their children’s web access, monitor texting and block messages that contain pictures or come from unknown numbers.

These dangers aren’t the only potential problems that cellphones present to children. Research conducted to examine differences in behavior after exposure to cellphones observed behavioral problems in 7-year-old children.

The children who were exposed to cellphones displayed greater behavioral issues than those who were not. Whether this was a result of what the children saw on the cellphones or the just the distraction they provide is unclear, but the link between the two remains relevant.

As time passes, American citizens will continually modernize themselves and their technology. Unfortunately for some, this means that younger generations will gain access to their parents’ new devices.

Despite the social pressures in our society, parents should think carefully before simply giving their children a cellphone.

It may not yield the touted safety benefits they want.