Yikes, My Kid Wants a Mobile Phone

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My son is 12 and he’s dying to have a mobile phone, figuratively speaking, of course. He’s in sixth grade and says, “Most of my friends have mobile phones.” Many, he claims, have smartphones.

This is one of those parent issues for which I wish had a silver-bullet solution. Is my son old enough for a mobile phone? If we give him one, are we obligated to give his 10-year-old sister a phone?

There are times, when the mobile phone would be convenient for me. I could reach him when he’s at basketball practice or at a friend’s house, for example. I taught middle school, and most of my students had phones by the time they were 12 or 13.

A mobile phone can be a marvelous mobile learning tool. With a web-ready smartphone, students can research and communicate on social networks, which enriches classroom activities and makes learning fun.

Still, phones are expensive. They bring plenty of responsibility, and we’re not sure my son is ready to take on the challenges of managing a mobile phone (we still struggle to get him to clean his room).

Pros and Cons of giving kids mobile phones

This infographic provides an interesting pro and con look at the mobile phone for kids issue. While the points and the statistics the graphic presents are thought-provoking, we are still struggling.

Is Your Kid Having a Cell Phone? Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

We’ve made many important decisions as parents. Public or private school? Which diapers work best? Breastfeeding (enough said there). Do you really need LeBron James basketball shoes? For some elusive reason, though, this mobile phone issue has us in a quandary.

The cost is certainly a consideration–both the upfront expense and the monthly bill. Of course, smartphones come with data package costs, too. I’m willing to admit that I need some help on this one.

So, what do you think? Does my 12 year old get a mobile phone, or not?

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
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