Children and their first cellphone…

Dear Diane, What age do you think children should get their first cellphone? My eight-yearold reckons everyone else in her class has them, but I feel she’s just too young. I worry about all that weird stuff like “sexting” and the whole thing just feels wrong – as well as being expensive. How do I know that she won’t simply waste time having pointless conversations with friends she isn’t with – and ignoring those who are right next to her? I’ve always been quite apathetic about my own mobile and often don’t check it or even turn it on for days on end!

Tessa, Tauranga*

Dear Tessa, For those of us who only use our cellphones as a “phone box”, it is an absolute mystery as to why anyone would want to have them as an additional body part, always at hand

and ever present. However, the reality is that many, many people – including young ones – are in continuous communication via their cellphone. Why not ask your child’s teacher to do a survey.

For example, they could ask, “How many children in the class have their own cellphone?” That would at least give you some statistics to go by. As for her having meaningless chats?

Just like adult conversations, some are about content and some focus on process.

There is no doubt that lots of people get much joy out of apparently meaningless texting – and you are right to be worried about the dangers. Giving your daughter permission to use your phone after school may well provide her with the thrill she needs, and you the opportunity to carefully supervise exactly what she is doing.*

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