You’ve heard the saying “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” What if we changed that a little and said, “What’s good for the goose is good for the goslings…” – as parents we are living examples of behavior, attitude, and yes even mobile use. There are many reasons why a mobile device is worthwhile for a working parent, but do those reasons apply for our children?
A primary reason for a mobile device is safety:
- You can call someone for help if you need it
- Family and friends can call you for help if they need it
- You can access emergency services
- Built in global positioning services (GPS) can assist first responders in locating you
Safety is an excellent reason for providing a mobile device to your offspring.
But mobile devices are much more than mere safety devices providing access to text messages, the internet, mobile apps… which leads to the next question: is it appropriate for your children to have a mobile device? The answer depends on the age of your children, their maturity level, and your willingness to support the habit.
When determining whether or not your children should own a mobile device consider the age of your children and how they will use the device. Will they use it to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, take pictures, surf the internet, or download and interact with Apps? How much voice, text, and data plan time should you purchase and how expensive a device should you provide? Are parental controls available that will allow you to monitor your child’s activity?
A Kaiser Family Foundation Study “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds” reviews media usage by age group and type. The information below is an excerpt from this study:
Percent Who Own a Cell Phone. Today, two-thirds (66%) of all 8- to 18-year-olds own their own cell phone, up from 39% five years ago. The proportion with a cell phone varies substantially by age, from 31% of 8- to 10-year-olds to 69% of 11- to 14-year-olds and 85% of 15- to 18-year-olds. Among older teens, about half (56%) owned a cell phone five years ago.
Time Spent Talking on a Cell Phone. Overall, 8- to 18-year-olds report spending an average of 33 minutes talking on a cell phone in a typical day. Just over half (56%) of all young people spend at least some time talking on a cell phone in a typical day, and those who do engage in the activity spend nearly an hour on the phone (:56).
Text Messaging. In a typical day, 46% of 8- to 18-year‑olds report sending text messages on a cell phone. Those who do text estimate that they send an average of 118 messages in a typical day. On average, 7th–12th graders report spending about an hour and a half (1:35) engaged in sending and receiving texts.
Rules. Relatively few 7th–12th graders say their parents have established any rules about talking or texting on a cell phone: 27% report that they have rules about the amount of time they can spend talking on the phone and 14% say they have rules about the number of texts they are allowed to send.
Use of Cell Phones as a Media Platform. The cell phone has rapidly cemented its place as a media delivery platform for young people. In a typical day, 8- to 18-year-olds spend an average of 49 minutes either listening to music (:17), playing games (:17) or watching TV (:15) on a cell phone— and this is an average for all 8- to 18-year-olds, including the youngest children, and all of those who don’t even own a cell phone. Among the older teens, where these activities are concentrated, the average for a typical day is more than an hour (1:06) of media consumption via the cell phone (:23 for music, :22 for games, and :22 for TV).
What’s good for the goose may not be good for the goslings, as you consider whether or not to provide a cell phone or mobile device to your children think about all the ways in which a mobile device can be used, it is more than a safety device after all, and how the device will fit into your family, financially and dynamically.