Smartphones Making Kids Dumb?

February 13, 2009

by Carol Politi

Advertising Age published an article tackling the issue of whether technology is making our kids dumb. There is a real fear that technology of all sorts – phones, social & gaming networks, etc. – will drive a new generation of kids that don’t read, can’t write, and that do not understand how to socially interact with other kids and adults.

Completely avoiding new technology is difficult – the world does move on. And in the case of cell phones, it is often more difficult for parents to deal with the loss of a cell phone than it is for their kids. However, I think we all struggle with how to ensure safe and appropriate limits.

One way to increase safety and set limits is through tools. I just had a discussion today about the fact that you can almost always make any technology safer by going into “settings” on the application. kajeet phones come with tools for parents and kids that are extremely useful in setting limits – and that can help keep kids away from inadvertent trouble (e.g., that phone that rings during school or friends that do think it is OK to call at 3AM).

However, these tools and controls are also useful to help drive a conversation with kids about limits and appropriate use. I think this conversation may be even more important than the controls themselves.

How much should be spent each month? Go to the kajeet WalletManager with your child and discuss budgets and allowances. When should the phone be available for use? Go to TimeManager and discuss the use of the phone during school hours and after certain hours of the night. Not ready for instant or picture messaging on the mobile? Discuss which services are appropriate (and turn off the ones that are not in FeatureManager).

The purchase of a first phone is a milestone in most kid’s lives – and they are at an age where they can collaborate with their parents to set up rules for appropriate use. We may find that most kids, if asked, will set their limits more stringently than their parents.

Let us know how you introduced limits and responsible use with your child’s first phone.

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