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Mobile phones and eight year olds.

When I walked to school everyday, I used to be mildly horrified at the young children who walked past me with mobile phones. I’m not talking about eleven year olds, I’m talking about proper Primary School aged children; eight year olds or younger.

My cousin is one of those children who had a mobile at an extremely young age; I think she was eight or nine. And I always wondered why at that age does a child require a mobile phone? What possible need is there for one?

Well, obviously there isn’t. At that age you’re not off out on your own, and you certainly do not have a social life that requires constant access to the world.

What causes this desire is peer pressure, and idolising characters out of Hannah Montana, or whatever it’s called; and I think it’s wrong.

I’ll admit now, I got my first mobile when I was eleven, and even that was a struggle. But it was more for practicality than anything else; I would be starting high school, and gradually gaining more freedom. For a long time, my only contacts were my Mum and home number.

Then there is my cousin, who has just turned eleven, on to her second mobile, with dozens of contacts. All of her friends have mobiles too, and they have done from a similar age; but to all of their parents it seems perfectly fine.

Maybe this is me just showing my “grannyish” side, which I know I definitely have, but does no one else see any wrong in this?

Children are, as their name suggests, children. A mobile is not just a device to contact other people; it’s a responsibility, a liability, and maybe even a health hazard. The liability comes in the form of the increasing numbers of teenagers having their mobile phones stolen, and who’s to say that these young children are not at equal, or even greater threat?

The health side-effects are yet undetermined with mobile phones, and surely, don’t want to be exposing their young children to possibly dangerous electro-magnetic energies right? No, wrong, they do. They go out, spend money on mobiles, and not just the cheapest ones out of Woolworths, but camera phones, or walkman phones, for their “deprived” children.

This is by no means a new occurrence; I remember when I was around eight or seven myself, and a couple of girls in my year had mobile phones. At the time, most of us, were amazed at the sight, I mean, mobiles in the nineties, they were generally reserved for adults, the business, and important people of the world; and I saw my peers with them. But at that age, it was never necessary, most of the day is spent in school, and when you’re outside of School, you’re rarely fifty meters away from your parents’ sight.

I am by no means a parent, or anything of the sort; but it worries and shocks me to see such young children trying to grow up so quickly, but more so, the parents. I wouldn’t say giving eight year olds mobile phones is practical or necessary; and if anything the children are more prone to be in danger.

What do you think? Should young children have mobile phones? And is there any way to stop such young hands owning devices which could have adverse affects on them? Also, is this another sign that childhood is becoming extinct?

Feel free to e-mail me any thoughts too at samantha@smstextnews.com

11 replies on “Mobile phones and eight year olds.”

Parents are free to let their children do many other far more stupid, proven damaging things like eating junk food, watching violent TV (or TV at all for that matter), playing violent games, riding poorly-assembled bikes from chain stores, riding in cheap small cars with poor safety records overloaded with holiday baggage just behind their heads etc.

While I'm not giving either of my children phones until they can earn the money to pay for them e.g. a paper round etc, I'm not overly fussed by the social angle. Every generation thinks new stuff is bad for the kids. Novels were once thought to be the work of the devil that would rot young minds…

It depends why they have a mobile phone. I gave my 9 year old an old mobile with a prepay SIM so she could exchange text messages with her grannies & with me when I’m away. She has had loads of fun with it so I’m glad I gave it to her & the cost is negligible. She doesn’t take it to school or wave it around it around in front of her friends & doesn’t take it out with her because she doesn’t need to. So going back to my point – context is everything.

In my family the kids gotta wait until they’re at least 10years old. I think that there needs to be a age limit set by the parents. But, when they hit high school thats when their social lifes start to develop, so thats when they’ll be wanting mobiles!!!

I remember getting my first wrist watch in primary school (why do you need a watch in primary school, there is hardly any self directed time and personally determined scheduling?). However, I was pleased to have it and it did make me marginally more reliable in getting home by 6pm after playing in the bush nearby.

How many 8 year olds actually need a phone? Probably close to none. Does it pose a risk to them? I doubt that phones are any more personally risky than fancy shoes. What dangerous activity can someone get up to on a mobile – even with their peers egging them on to do risky things? Uncontrolled private access to the internet on a mobile phone by peer groups of children and teenagers is a different story.

On the question of novels. Most early novels were extremely racey. In fact the parallels between the growth of the internet through porn and the growth of the novel is widely commented on. Moll Flanders (published in 1720 somthing) goes through men at a startlling rate in eye popping detail although she does repent on the second to last page. As an early novel its detailed review of immorality is typical. As you might expect the normal charges apply in that the story is weak and characterisation is non existant (remind you of anything on the net these days?). I doubt if any 8 year olds have read it and been corrupted by it – ever.

What I was getting on with the dangers is:
– The unknown health risks – I'm going to go a little more indepth with this next week.
– The fact that mobiles/MP3 players are the most stolen objects off of young people; and by young children having them, surely they are being put at risk of having their property stolen?

I think by putting your children into these risks, when there is absolutely no need for it, is just a little absurd. Then again, that's purely my opinion.

It's good to share opinions to be able to see the different points of view.

I also agree that fastfood is terrible, violent TV is slightly different, and say ten year olds playing Grand Theft Auto is just wrong.

Samantha.

Ah, come on now – fast food, violent TV and GTA have a place in everyone’s life in the right amounts. Dont get carried away there. Is SMSTN being sponsored by the Daily Mail this week??

Hi Samantha,

Re 'health risks', there is only one discussion you can have – do you believe in the principle of the weight of evidence?

There are many things in life people hold as being dangerous, when the evidence very clearly points otherwise. Cycling, for example, is safer than walking – but there's a major industry around selling helmets/scaring parents into getting children off bikes and inside to play video games. Why does no-one suggest walking helmets?

For every 'study' claiming to find a causative link between mobile emissions and illness, there are a hundred independent, peer-reviewed studies finding nothing. The idea of a conspiracy involving researchers, manufacturers and governments is laughable – the numbers of people involved who would need to be hiding evidence – and thus putting their careers, reputations and indeed personal freedom at risk is in the hundreds of thousands. They can't all be on the take.

There is simply no comparison between mobiles and the 50's/60's smoking work, at all. In the 50's/60's, the industries paid for the research by their own staff, and thus could hide it. There was little to no independent work. When universities started doing their own work, the truth came out. Mobiles are starting from the other end – the independent institutions are the ones doing the work, with much larger sample sizes than smoking research ever had.

Maybe you could look at how many lives have been saved due to mobiles being to hand. This number must measure in the millions by now.

To me, anyone who buys into mobiles being harmful is in the same loony basket as global warming skeptics. You deny weight of evidence (or lack thereof) on this scale like you deny gravity or a curved earth.

Having a reasonably solid grasp of non-ionising radiation, RF propagation theory, the dB scale of power measurement, relativity of power levels etc is also highly recommended. Not to be elitist, but unless you do it's hard to sustain any discussion as the truth gets swamped in emotion. For example, the average 3G mobile antenna puts out about as much power as a decent lightbulb. The tiny, tiny levels of RF power that modern mobiles use is truly amazing. 3G mobiles work at just above the ambient noise floor, using many hundreds of times less power than 2G mobiles. You get the equivalent of a lifetime's worth of mobile emissions from one hour at the beach, under a 2KW/m2 sun…

<edit>

Thinking further on this, over the last 15 years in this wonderful mobile industry, I've worked with many hundreds of genuine, honest people, many with families, small children, etc. This topic has come up often – indeed, every time there's a scaremongering headline, the RF engineers would be dissecting the methodologies used of the study etc etc. Often the non-technical staff would come to us for advice along the lines of “So is there really a risk?” “Should I let my child talk to grandma / dad etc on my phone?”. Always, the unequivocal advice has been that there is nothing to worry about. These were people whos job it was to be on top of this sort of thing – RF PHD engineers required to testify in court hearings on the matter, where objections to masts were based on health concerns. Literally liable to go to jail if found guilty of perjury. And let's not forget the massive damages MNO's would face, should they be found to be covering up evidence of any ill-effects. The size of any such class action would be measured in the Billions. It would utterly bankrupt any MNO or trade body implicated. Look at what happened to Big Tobacco in the 90's. I will not accept that all these people I've known have offered the 'Mobiles are safe' opinion because they were afraid of their jobs or wanted to protect their stock options.

If I thought for a nanosecond that there was anything at all to be actually concerned about I wouldn't let my children or wife use one – just like we used to avoid taking our children to pubs/places that allowed smoking. If I thought the company I worked for was hiding evidence of health effects I'd not only resign on the spot, I'd blow the whistle so loud you'd hear it on the moon. But there is no such peer-reviewed, causative published evidence for mobiles at all.

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/m

This is an article we needed in today's society.

I just gave my 9 year old brother my old super-tweaked 6600. All he does with it is play games.

He never called anyone besides my parents, and that's very rare. No kid of that age needs a phone. All they do is play with them and listen to music. And yes, it's all about peer pressure and sometimes jealousy. “If my brother who is 2 years old than me has it, why can't I”. That's what he says when referring to my other brother.

It's the family that has to stop this, it will save them money, and their children won't become sedentary. They will be active like children should be.

I am with Mike on the radio risks – essentially it is an expert argument for those who have read the science.

Where I think the discussion is woeful and I would really appreciate a new perspective is the subjective dangers which are in all senses more real than the radio frequency debates.

The real problems are social not physics but theft, mis-use of time, contacting people away from parents supervision (children love to secretly conspire and not always about wise things), running up big bills senslessly or taking stupid photos that everybody will live to regret when they come to their senses.

These are the big questions I want asked by someone who is close to the problem and you have raised many of them. HOW should mobiles be used for the biggest benefit. That is what this site specialises in asking and the under 15s are a big group. Would google maps help the large number of kids who get lost not that far from home or in shops? Would it help their parents feel comfortable. Would it be good if PARENTS could create a walled garden for their under 10s (both web and voice)?

I am with Mike on the radio risks – essentially it is an expert argument for those who have read the science.

Where I think the discussion is woeful and I would really appreciate a new perspective is the subjective dangers which are in all senses more real than the radio frequency debates.

The real problems are social not physics but theft, mis-use of time, contacting people away from parents supervision (children love to secretly conspire and not always about wise things), running up big bills senslessly or taking stupid photos that everybody will live to regret when they come to their senses.

These are the big questions I want asked by someone who is close to the problem and you have raised many of them. HOW should mobiles be used for the biggest benefit. That is what this site specialises in asking and the under 15s are a big group. Would google maps help the large number of kids who get lost not that far from home or in shops? Would it help their parents feel comfortable. Would it be good if PARENTS could create a walled garden for their under 10s (both web and voice)?

I am with Mike on the radio risks – essentially it is an expert argument for those who have read the science.

Where I think the discussion is woeful and I would really appreciate a new perspective is the subjective dangers which are in all senses more real than the radio frequency debates.

The real problems are social not physics but theft, mis-use of time, contacting people away from parents supervision (children love to secretly conspire and not always about wise things), running up big bills senslessly or taking stupid photos that everybody will live to regret when they come to their senses.

These are the big questions I want asked by someone who is close to the problem and you have raised many of them. HOW should mobiles be used for the biggest benefit. That is what this site specialises in asking and the under 15s are a big group. Would google maps help the large number of kids who get lost not that far from home or in shops? Would it help their parents feel comfortable. Would it be good if PARENTS could create a walled garden for their under 10s (both web and voice)?

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