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.

4 Responses to “Smartphones Making Kids Dumb?”

  1. Sara Says:

    My daughter was begging for a phone for her birthday last year. I had found kajeet some time ago, and was just waiting for the right time. About 2 months before her birthday, we sat down. She and I agreed on chores that she could do and earn money for. She got x amount for each chore that she did, and could earn bonus money for additional items she requested. She was paid each time I was. By the time her birthday rolled around, she was making pretty good money and saving the majority of it. (She wanted to buy a scooter.)

    For her birthday, I gave her the Sanyo Katana II in pink. From that point on, she paid for her phone with the money that she earned from her chores. She ran out of money one time, but for the most part, she’s kept it up.

    She keeps a tight leash on the number of people that she gives her phone number to, so that she isn’t getting an obscene amount of calls/texts and also reigns in her friends that abuse her phone.

  2. Carol Politi Says:

    Thanks for the feedback Sara! We have heard again and again from parents that the first cell phone goes most smoothly when they establish guidelines up front as you have. It sounds as though this has been great budgeting experience.

  3. samuela Says:

    heyy i am 10, and my dad wants me to have a cell when im 16, nit cuz if the price, but cuz of responsiblity. how can i prove to him that i am responsbile while Kajeet is also respnsible?

  4. Carol Politi Says:

    Hi Samuela,

    Thanks for your note. Every family has different rules on cell phones – and I’m sure your dad has very good reasons for his rules. Some families find they need them earlier than others because of logistics and schedule issues. Others wait until their kids are much older. There is no correct age and not every kid gets a cell phone!

    At 10, my bet is that you know what’s required to show you are responsible. My guess is that good grades, homework, helping around the house, and making good choices with your friends are probably important! I’m not sure doing these things will get you a phone, but my bet is that making good choices like these will make both you and your dad really happy.


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