Which Tech Gadgets Are Right for Your Child?
Children clamor for electronics early on. Get the scoop on when to give in.
Cell PhoneDoes everyone really have one? If they are teenagers, yes. But younger kids are definitely gaining. In a 2009 study, 83 percent of teens had a cell phone, and 53 percent had one before they were 12. How young are kids dialing in? Fourteen percent of 5- to 7-year-olds have phones. So do 26 percent of 8- to 10-year-olds and 45 percent of 11- to 12-year-olds.
What age to start: When your child starts school (and spending time at playdates and parties), a simple phone just for calling home might be in order. The Firefly Glow Phone, for kids ages 5 and older, has buttons for Mom, Dad, and Emergency. (Cost: $50 for the phone, $10 a month for 25 minutes, fireflymobile.com.)
As they grow up: So he says he needs to dial more than three numbers? Add a phone to your existing plan, but make use of options like Verizon’s Chaperone plan ($10 a month) and Sprint’s Family Locator ($5 a month), which let you track kids’ whereabouts via GPS technology. Most providers also let you control minutes, texts, and games.
Causes for concern: Discuss explicit text messaging (“sexting”) and bullying, even with younger kids. “Today’s kids do not consider the consequences of what they say and the photos they send,” says David Bickham, a scientist with the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital in Boston. “Kids need to realize that once a picture is out there, they’re no longer in control.”
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