Child Ready For A Cell Phone?

Your Child Wants an iPhone

Children are rapidly consuming smartphones.

By Kevin RR Williams

TECHNOLOGY It begins innocently enough. An infant hears the enticing sounds and sees the glowing screen. You clean your iPhone with a sanitary wipe and hand it to the little tot, who quickly shoves it into his mouth. A week later, the toddler is unlocking the phone to access photos, songs and videos.

A Target on Your Child's Back

Find My Friends

Impressed by your child's apparent aptitude for technology, you begin shopping the app store for kid's "educational games" and load a few on your iPhone to give Junior an advantage when he or she is ready for pre-school. Huggies sponsors an appropriately named app called iGo Potty. (Might want to give that iPhone another wipe.) For road trips, there's the game that sings Wheels on the Bus. (Earplugs not included.) By the time Junior is in kindergarten, you're rationalizing that a smartphone allows you (and other tech-savvy people if not careful) to track your child's whereabouts in case of an emergency. Conveniently, Apple provides a GPS Find My Friends app and includes parental access settings to restrict use of iPhone features.

By age 7, Junior is beginning to complain that friends have smartphones and he feels left out. A couple more years and he is teaching you about mobile phone features and perhaps starting his own software company in the garage.

Is this just brilliant UI design or is it part of an elaborate marketing scheme that targets youth? According to the Times, many kids today — even younger than 2 — would prefer an iPhone to actual toys. Realizing they tapped into a huge market, iPhone developers have come up with apps targeted to their young audience. [1]

Tovah P. Klein, the director of Columbia University's Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, fears that kids' obsession with playing on the iPhone will limit toddlers’ socialization time and prevent them from interacting with the outside world.

Amortized Cost of Ownership

Good advice for adults considering the purchase of a smartphone is to add up the long-term cost of ownership. This is even more important for children. The phones are not free, even if given to you at the beginning of service contract. When the carrier "gives" you a phone, you pay tax on the unsubsidized price plus another $50–90 per month for two years. An infographic posted by The Nerdy Nurse tallies the total cost for an iPhone 5 over 2 years. (The model is of little consequence. It could be an iPhone 4 or a Samsung Galaxy S phone.) The tally can range between $1800 and 5,600 — per phone. [2] Multiply this by each family member with a smartphone and you've easily tapped not only the first-car budget but perhaps their college tuition fund as well, and that's just after two years. What's a cheaper alternative? If your child has to make a call, borrow a phone.

Of course the "experts" are not parents of your children. Perhaps nothing is too good for 'Kyle' and 'Kate.' At what age do you think it's best to satisfy your child's craving for a full-featured portable communication device? This question has generated hundreds of responses at GoPollGo. A minority concluded, "When they're old enough to pay for it!" Add your poll response to view the international average.

Tags: cellphones, maturity, mobile phone, responsibility, telephones

  1. Why toddlers don't need iPhones. ^
  2. Owning an iPhone Will Set You Back at Least $1800. ^
  3. Protect Your Privacy When Uploading Photos. ^