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Kids and technology ...
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A couple weeks ago, we got our oldest daughter (who's 11) a cell phone. It seems both surreal and completely natural at the same time. Surreal, since cell phones really weren't common when I was 11 ... and natural because my wife and I both have cell phones ... and we don't have a home phone. So rather than her borrowing ours to call her friends all the time ... now she's got her own.

Anyway, the cell phone came with some rules. She's not to give her number out to anyone without asking us first. And she's not to answer the phone if it's a number she doesn't know. No calls before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Pretty standard stuff.

The little one (who's 8) does NOT have a phone.

They do, both, however have email addresses now. I've wanted to get them email addresses for quite some time, actually. So they can email friends and - specifically family - many of whom live out of state.

The concern was always safety. I get - on average - 1,000 spam emails a DAY. Now, I understand that I get more than most, due in large part to the fact that I put myself (and my email address) out there alot. But many of those emails are unsuitable for children's eyes. So, I didn't want to get them a GMail, Hotmail or Yahoo account. I wanted a kid specific email that I could oversee.

I found one called EZPZeMail. It's not free, but it's not cost prohibitive either, especially since we're talking about the safety and wellbeing of my kids here. The best thing about it (in my opinion) is that the kids can only send or recieve messages from people in an approved list ... and guess who gets to do the approving. :) Anyone in that list, the message goes straight to their inbox. Any messages from anyone else goes to me. I can then either approve the message for the kids to read it, or I can delete it and they never have to see the type of smut we're used to in our inboxes.

Anyone have any other "kids and technology" tips or tricks?

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Until I had my own job and my own money, my highest level of technology was the boom box with a speaker on only one side. Yes, pathetic. Maybe I'm just jealous but I don't think cel phones belong in the hands of young children.

Now a phone I do like for kids is the Verizon Migo. It has only 4 parent-programmable speed dial buttons and an emergency button, which dials 911. The kids can still get ahold of people they need to but cannot call anyone they want for hours on end. With its GPS capabilities it can also act as a tracking device, adding to your child's security. Plus it looks like Shrek, so how can you go wrong?

I've seen young kids on their phones chatting away incessantly, and it's even more annoying than when adults do it. What can you possibly need to talk about with such urgency that it requires an immediate connection to your friends? You're 10, your life is not that interesting.

-- Edited by Mindcrime at 22:22, 2008-07-16

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I agree with Mindcrime. A friend of mine has two children: 12 and 16. They've both had their own cell phones for years and I think it's ludicrous. Her rationale is that she wants to be able to get a hold of them. I have to wonder, where are these children going that they need a cell phone to get in contact with them? The 12-year old has even declared that a little schoolmate of hers has a Blackberry. A freakin' Blackberry. SHE'S 12!!! I don't even have a Blackberry (not only can I not justify the cost of one but I don't feel I need it for my life. My life is virtually the same every day. I don't need a PDA to tell me that tomorrow I have to go to work from 8:00 - 4:30.).

Many of my friends growing up were latch-key kids and they all grew up fine sans mobile phone.

My biggest piece of advice to those who still on insist on getting cell phones for their kids: get full insurance on it. The 12 year old has had her phone end up in the washer before. She's also dropped it to the point of breaking it and lost the charger, among other "accidents". You may even want to consider a pre-paid option. My friend was FAR FROM AMUSED when her daughter kept letting her little girl friend use it to call her 12 year old boyfriend... in one month, she incurred an additional $200 of calls.

I'm not saying all kids are this irresponsible, but I just don't feel a child needs a cell phone until they are in high school - old enough to take care of it, are driving and they have a job to pay for it.

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All children are different, of course. And some cannot handle the responsibility of a cell phone. Some, however, can.

Is a cell phone a need? Maybe. Maybe not. In our situation, given that we have no home phone, I think it was. Since babysitters are often teenagers (not all of whom have cell phones), we wanted to make sure that there would always be a way for our kids to get ahold of us ... and for us to get ahold of them. I'd call that a need.

MC, I think the phone you linked to was cool. But as long as we're paying the extra money for her to have a phone, I thought she might as well have a "real" phone. Actually, my wife is jealous because our daughter's phone is cooler than hers is.

But the question wasn't designed as "should 11 year olds have cell phones?" It was meant to be, "how can parents incorporate todays technology into their kids lives in a safe way?"

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I agree with Mind-Crime and Bufwings.

Don't kid yourself Scott, a kid having cell phone is a "Status-Symbol" not a necessity.

Although technology is neutral, too much too young may be overwhelming and distracting from the things that are important life. In my opinion the television, video games, and the internet has already created a dependency on technology that has become unnecessary and counter productive to a child's devolpment. Children at that age should develop "real" socialization skills not "virtual" ones.

Anyway, all I can say is that you "created" another "toy" that kids don't need.

And yeah, the whole "I need to get in touch with my kid " is boognish. Technology is not freedom and it does not replace face to face comunication or trust. Cut the embolical cord.

-MAD

P.S. The Verizon Migo? sounds like a great idea.hmm 

-- Edited by Andrew at 10:52, 2008-07-20

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Well, I'm not a parent but I can see why Scott wants his daughter to have a phone given that there is no land line in the home. It would be annoying to field phone calls from 11 yr olds all day on my cell -- haha.
I would just warn you about your children having phones at school. Most schools now have some sort of "if I see it, it's mine" policy and you probably don't want to have to pick up her phone from the principal at the end of the school day.


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Welcome to the party, MP. It's nice to see that someone agrees with me on that (not that I was looking for validation) :)

We were informed at middle school orientation that they have just such a policy. Frankly, that's just one of 100 problems I have with our current government education system.

This should be a new topic ... but I really wish there were a private school in Lockport that I could send the kids to. Cause not having a choice kind of sucks.

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MP


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From what I remember, the only private schools around are Catholic schools and I guess your SOL if you're not Catholic. I've always heard great things about DeSales and also the Buffalo private schools. With the high cost of school taxes up there, it would be hard to justify paying out extra money for private school -- at least for my budget!

I don't really have a problem w/ the cell phone policy in schools -- I've seen first hand what a distraction they can be. Since I teach high school (not in WNY), most of my students have them. If I see it, I ask them to put it away and it's never been a problem yet. I pick my battles and as long as they're not doing anything inappropriate w/ the cell or it's not incessant, I don't make a big deal out of it. However, I think the administration needs to have some "rule on the books" about how to deal w/ them in case students get caught texting answers. Also, w/ picture and video phones, think of the possibilities of what kids can do! This is a crude story but last year, one student took a picture on his phone up the skirt of the teacher next door to me (who wasn't wearing undies apparently) and sent it all over the school. Yikes, I think she left about a week later.

On the flip side, some people are trying to incorporate cell phones into the curriculum and take advantage of the fact that kids are so comfortable w/ them. My school was one of the participants in Project K-nect, which you can check out here if you have a spare minute: http://www.projectknect.org/Project%20K-Nect/Home.html
You're right -- this is a whole other topic from your original post.

-- Edited by MP at 09:36, 2008-07-30

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Just an observation from the last post.....WHAT!?!? She wasn't wearing underwear while TEACHING at a school? And the kids knew that HOW? Sounds like there is much more to that story!

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I just want to know why teachers weren't like that when I was in school.

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Were any of your teachers attractive enough that you even WANTED to see without underwear on??? My teachers (both male and female) were none too attractive and had been there FOREVER. *shudders*


Oh... and the private school thread... that would make a good topic.. I have a lot to say about that.  ;)

-- Edited by BUFWINGS at 08:17, 2008-07-31

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Not a one ...

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Just a small point, you don't have to BE Catholic to go to a Catholic-run school...

I'm not in favor of cell phones for kids while in school. But it's almost impossible to enforce.

A friend of mine had a daughter - middle-school aged - who never had any need for a cell phone. Then her Father buys her one (They are divorced and share custody) and tells the daughter she must keep it with her at all times so he can call her. And he specifically included school.

The only problem is, her school had a strict no-cellphone rule. She was caught between disobeying her Father and breaking the rules at school. The Daughter didn't even want the phone.

So the Mother takes the phone away after getting a call from the school about it. And sets down a rule the it will be off and put away when the Daughter is at her home.

Well, doesn't the Father have a fit. The phone caused no end of trouble and the Mother ended up giving it to her Lawyer!

I'm old school. I'll admit I don't have a need to be connected to the world constantly (except the Internet!) but that's because I grew up without such things.

My kids - all out of High School - can have a cell phone whenever they buy their own. I can't justify the cost of the two my wife and I have and seldom use. Heck, I wouldn't even miss my landline phone if it was gone. Just keep my DSL going and I'll use Skype if I need to call someone.

I know kids don't realize it, and I don't think a lot of young adults do either, but the whole phone industry is designed to suck money out of your wallet. They advertise a low price, but it's always a basic, bare-bones service. Then they talk about all the wonderful things you can have for just a little bit more. Before you know it, you've added a line, a calling plan, more minutes, text messaging, video on demand, a fancy phone, Friends and Family, data, ringtones, and on and on. Before you know it, you've been suckered into paying way more than you'd ever have agreed to in the first place. Whether it's wired, or cellular, they work the same way to wring every last cent out of you. Cable and Satellite TV are on the same marketing system.

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