BY MOMWISE LATUNDE ONABAJO

Proverbs 1: 2-4:

2. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. 3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. 4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,knowledge and discernment to the young.

The other day, my six year old daughter reminded me (again) that some of her friends already have their personal cell phones and tablets, hence she needed hers. I immediately answered again “not yet darling, you’re too young for your own device.”

Of course she pouted and went away but her request stayed with me. I thought to myself, “At what age do parents/guardians start investing in technological devices for children?”

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that I was not so much reluctant to give my daughter a cell phone as much as I wondered if she was matured enough to handle the power and influence that a cell phone or tablet carries in itself.

Having a cell phone is a huge responsibility!

Today’s cell phones have the abilities to text, recognize voice, images, record videos, gain access to anywhere in the world via the internet and so much more than I am aware of. So I asked myself again, “am I ready to place all  that responsibility on my six year old daughter?”

Surely, there are parental controls that can monitor activities (but honestly, how much monitoring really happens between our busy schedules as parents?). And I wonder even if these measures are enough buy a phone for my child.

Some might list safety and easy access to one’s child as a benefit and there are stories of how access to a cell phone helped mitigate danger and call the attention of authorities.

I tried to think of another life-saving benefit of giving my six year old daughter a cell phone and I came up short.

Today’s cell (actually, SMART) phones are expensive, as in EX-PEN-SIVE! I heard the latest iPhone was about $1000 and the new Samsung will set you back about $900. Then iPads are upwards of $300s. But then again, some parents might consider these amounts insignificant compared to the peace of mind they have knowing they can easily reach their children and vice versa. But what if the phone battery died?

After processing this question, I realized that most young children don’t have cell phones or tablets because they call their parents and/or authorities multiples times in a week to report safety concerns; I realized that most young children have cell phones/tablets to gain access to internet, watch videos on YouTube, access their social media accounts, FaceTime with their friends, download Apps, play games, etc. all to what purpose?

Perhaps I’m biased in my viewpoints but I am interested to hear parents and caregivers’ perspective on this so I propose the following questions:

  1. As a parent, if safety and easy access to our children is the main concern, are there other ways to reinforce safety measures to our children in the absence of a cell phone?

  2. Are there other compelling reasons to give cell phones to a young child?

  3. What age is appropriate to give a child a cell (SMART) phone or tablet?

Kindly share your views in the comment section below.

Shalom.