Tweens & Phones: from fake to real in seconds.

Remember when kids had plastic kitschy fake-phones that played music and hung on their key-chain filled with other silly key-chains (but no actual keys… well, maybe ONE key, if you were lucky)? Well… FAKE PHONES no longer!

Over half of 12-to-14-year-olds now have their own mobile phones, and a “significant percentage” of children younger than 10 do as well, according to iGR’s “Tweens” report.
The study also found that teens ages 15 and older were even more likely to have their own mobile phones.
Children mostly wanted mobile phones to stay in touch with friends. Staying in touch with parents was a secondary reason. Some children also said that peer pressure made them want mobile phones.
Since so many tweens now have mobile phones, OEMs may start targeting even younger users.
“This study shows that although there are still significant opportunities with the tween and teen segments, the target age groups are getting younger and younger,” said Iain Gillott of iGR. “The new battleground for handset makers and mobile operators in the teen/tween segment is now among children aged 10 and under.”

eMarketer.com – Teen Mobile Phone Ownership Mounts

DEAR GOD NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I’m sorry, but… why on EARTH does anyone UNDER THE AGE OF 10 need their own cell phone? SERIOUSLY. These are children… CHILDREN. Building private lives at such a young age– that’s just a glutton for punishment. Phones = responsibility. Why can’t parents keep their kids… KIDS… just a little longer?

Kid empowerment is not making a child into an adult. It’s opening up the world to a kid’s eyes with inspiration and possibility… without the burden of adult responsibility. It’s letting their voice be heard as a wonder-filled child.

Not to mention– What will parents do once their child’s ENTIRE LIFE is well hidden within the secret realms of media & technology? Why even raise children anymore? Just give ’em some gadgets, send them outside, and hope for the best. Fingers crossed, right?

This really just freaks me out. Parenting is being a parent– being in the know about everything that is going on in your child’s life. Your. Child. Not the phone’s child. Good thing the operator will be there 24/7 for your child.

I can just see it now– a 9 year old is having night terrors. What do they do? They call their best friend next door on their cell phone.

“Hi, Josie. I’m scared. I had a bad dream.”

“Really? What was it about?”

“The man from the website I accessed through my cell phone’s internet connection was stalking me again.”

“You mean that man you met through the social networking platform that we’re not supposed to be on because we’re 10 and you have to be 13, but we got on it anyway?”

“Yeah, that’s the guy.”

“Maybe you should tell your parents.”

“Nah… that means i have to walk down the hallway and wake them up. Plus, they’re not going to be very happy that I was on that site anyway.”

“That is… if they even know it’s not for us kids. Ha ha, silly clueless adults!”

“Good point. I feel better now. Goodnight, Josie.”

“Goodnight.”

And click.

I just don’t know. There’s got to be some re-evaluating here. If you’re thinking about buying your 8, 9, 10, 11, and even 12 year old a phone… ask WHY? Does your child REALLY need it? REALLLLLY?

Okay, okay… I’m done. I just get so fired up when businesses target kids by producing techonolgy that can replace the bonds of trust within the family unit, thus making parenting easy and shortening childhood.

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  1. May 16, 2007 at 4:50 am

    Just caught this post…the fast answer is ‘logistics’— parents use cells to have Johnny walk out to the curb for swoop-n-scoop school pick-ups and practices/playdates particularly in middle school.

    I know what you mean though…in some schools where we’ve run our counter-marketing programs for Shaping Youth I’ve seen K-3 kids packing Firefly phones as status symbols and 4/5-graders boppin’ to ipods in the lunchyard. (they’re all confiscated if used in class)

    Even in the economically disadvantaged/Title One environs it’s amazing to see the SAME if not MORE kids with cells (in the upper grades particularly, beginning w/5-6 elem/middle) almost like a universal ‘entitlement’…for latchkey coordination, aftercare/sitters, or parent pickup.

    I DO feel it instills a false sense of security in both the child AND the parent. (Anastasia’s recent post quoting the “tethered” concept that perpetuates an electronic umbilical cord, sans critical problem solving is a huge issue too)

    Then there’s the whole status symbol–who has what–commercialism (camera/PDA/texting/widgets/PinkRazr etc.) that is just plain vile. ugh.

  2. May 16, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks, Amy! I’m just worried about kids & expected responibility.

    Here’s secondary problem with kids & phones…
    If a child is at school, and in the responsiblity of the school… wouldn’t it make sense for the parents to call the SCHOOL and inform them?
    When I was working after school programs for an elementary school, we’d have the “my-buys-me-everything” kids bring their parents old cell phone in. The parent would talk to the kid via cell phone and never contact us– you know, the RESPONSIBLE adults. Either the kid would just “disappear” outside (with their parents called-in permission) and leave… making us run around confused and scared… or the parents would be INCREDIBLY LATE and not call us, hoping their child would tell us (shhhhyeah right).
    My problems with phones are the responibility factor. Taking communication away from adults and putting it in the hands of the kids. Kids caring for their own confused wellbeing. Yikes. Kids be kids. Kids should be LEARNING about taking care of themselves through role modeling and discourse with their folks. Not having the responsibility plopped DIRECTLY into their laps.
    HUGE sigh.

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