Do you think school kids should have handphones? This is a very contentious issue with many parents and educators. I find that there are good reasons for taking either position, so each family will have to weigh up pros and cons and arrive at their own decision.
Your child’s school may help swing the argument as most require that the child’s handphone should be handed over at the school’s front desk.
Here are some advantages:
An obvious first one: You can always reach your child. I find it immensely reassuring that I know that I can contact my child at any time out of school. Your child can easily reach you if there is a change in schedule with a class or a CCA. Has he or she lost their bus pass? Easy, just call mum. No need to ask a stranger for 10 cents.
Modern smart phones have GPS a location feature. On the iPhone it is called “Find My iPhone”. It is fairly accurate and will pin your child’s location down to a particular building. For anxious parents this has to be one of the greatest inventions ever.
Entertainment. Phones can hold all the entertainment a kid needs for a lifetime. Free texting, video calls (free if they are hooked into somebody’s WiFi), endless games, dictionaries with translation and finger-stroke input for Chinese characters, encyclopedias, bus schedules, maps. An endless and amazing list of things to do when adults are doing their boring stuff.
Teach responsibility. The phone will be important to your child and he or she will have to learn to look after it and not loose it and prevent it from perhaps being stolen.
Some disadvantages are:
Cost. These phones and their plans cost not an insignificant amount of money and it is important that your child understands this, and uses the phone responsibly.
You can lose control. Most of what children do on phones is beyond the gaze of their parents. You can’t often tell who they are sending an SMS to, or what the conversations are about. Have they opened a Facebook account without your knowledge? Exactly what is it they are watching on You Tube?
Obsessive behaviour. A smart phone can easily take the place of a good book or a meaningful talk with a parent, siblings or friends and often seem to be an excuse for a child to withdraw from others.
Of course eventually your child will own a phone, it is just a question of at what age. It is a question you will consider at some point, and will need to weigh up your child's concerns in light of what the social norms are, and school rules.