Kids and Their Cell Phones

According to the Associated Press (5/27/08) Japanese youngsters are getting so addicted to Internet-linking cell phones that the government is starting a program warning parents and schools to limit their use among children.  The government is worried about how elementary and junior high school students are getting drawn into cyberspace crimes, spending long hours exchanging mobile email, and suffering other negative effects of cell phone overuse.  The government is also asking Japanese manufacturers to develop cell phones with only the “talk” function and GPS.

Some youngsters are spending hours at night on email with their friends.  One fad is the “30 minute rule,” in which a child who doesn’t respond to email within 30 minutes gets targeted for bullying the next day.  Other children have sent in their own snapshots to a website and then ended up getting threatened for money.

The cell phone craze in America is tightly connected to the growing “disconnect” between children and their busy, busy parents who feel some false sense of security while not supervising their children simply because the phone has a GPS locator.  Parents should not, as a matter of course, be giving cell phones with Internet access to children – it is just too tempting to abuse, and it puts them at risk.