Handphones vs no handphones
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario, 26-Feb-2009
Should children be given a handphone? On one hand it is great for convenience if they need to contact their parents or for parents to know where they are in any emergency. On the other hand, giving your child a handphone exposes the child to a whole host of risks.
Here are two opposing opinions to the question of whether a child should be given a handphone:
Noor Nirwandy Mat Nordin, project director of Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia, deputy chairman of the Communications & Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM)
I don't think that children should be given handphones until after the age of 16. It exposes them to too many risks.
During our time we could only talk to boys and girls on the phone under our parents' observation. We could never send SMSes to our girlfriends or boyfriends. So if we did anything wrong, we would get caught and punished on the spot.
The initial intention (for giving the handphone) is to provide facilities for us to know where our kids are but we must think twice before doing so. I advice parents to know how to adopt the technology before giving a mobile phone to their child. For instance, you must know if the phone given to your child only has the basics or if it's more than that.
But I still oppose just giving a basic phone. For me, not giving a phone is the best solution.
Secondly, you must impose regulations and an audit system. You must audit your child's behaviour. For instance, every night take the phone and browse through it. You should also have stricter guidelines such as using a prepaid number and giving them maybe RM10 of credit for one week or give the child a phone that is registered under the parent's name for better control.
There are no boundaries in communications these days – children can communicate through their phones, e-mail, chat. While you may not be able to stop them, you can minimise the communication.
We (CFM) have had complaints where parents say it is very easy for strangers to ask their underaged girl out for lunch or dinner. Having a phone opens up the opportunity for others to do bad things.
We want to minimise the risk factors. Problems in school with not doing the homework because of the handphone – that is secondary. We are more concerned about the bigger consequences of having a handphone like social problems – rape and having sexual intercourse at a young age.
For parents, if there are risks involved and you have calculated and you know that the risks won't benefit you, why take the risk? Better not to have the risk at all by not giving them a handphone.
Lim Fun Jin, technical director at ISA Technologies, father of two boys aged four and 15 months
Lim Fun Jin
I think it is inevitable that we give them handphones. I guess the key question is when is the right time. My personal experience from having a handphone and using it is that my social life is much more enhanced with a handphone in terms of connecting with my peers. I think for kids it's the same.
Parents buy their children phones for security reasons or for them to contact the kids but from the kids' point of view I believe it's to connect with their friends. As we know, today, social networking is part of our lives – from Facebook to simple things like using the phone for SMS.
But I guess the question for me is when is the right time and what is the purpose – is it part of the experience process or part of the IQ-EQ development to develop things beyond the academic side. Getting them to network and having a social life and friends – I think it's a good thing but obviously there's also abuse in terms of chalking up crazy amounts of bills and things like that. Those I think are the main concerns of parents.
Getting them a handphone is about educating them and teaching them to be responsible – what are you going to use it for, what are the guidelines. Yes, definitely there'll be elements of social networking but how far do you go? Kids have lots of friends but up till what age and what are their intentions? Nowadays you can pass a lot of multimedia messages over and some of the content may not be suitable for kids. So you're always exposed to these kinds of concerns.
But I think if the kid has been groomed to be responsible then by all means. I feel it's a good thing to have that responsibility than not to have it. We can always take the view that we will always shield them so that they don't have to face these kinds of difficult decisions and responsibility but in a lot of ways I find that the grounding is more important.
You need to ground them right and from there give them the responsibility and see where it goes. If it gets abused then withdraw the benefit.
My peers and I actually made some observations at a recent reunion. What we found was that you can be very good academically but the social element in terms of overall career development is actually a very important factor. And when does it start?
Social networking actually starts when we're young. But you must make sure the academic part is never missed out in lieu of the social part. I feel that things like phones, exposure to computers, even experiences with technology devices is a very good thing. It's a good experience to expand your social network.
I don't think children should be given handphones. If we managed without handphones before ... why the sudden need now. The risk of abuse by the child or outsiders is too great.
I prefer my kid is having a hand phone. With hand phone, I'm able to contact her to make sure she is fine. And she can get help ASAP when she is in emergency. Of course, we have to educate children not to abuse the usage of hand phone. Always monitor how your children use it.
We can't ignore the advance of technology. We can't compare our time to that of our children or grandchildren. The technology is here, now, why not use it to our advantage?
Children should be given handphones and taught how to use it NOT abuse it. Parents have to be responsible too, not just buy the latest model and leave it to the child to show off. A responsible parent will make sure the child make good use of the handphone. On the other hand the parent should not use the handphone as a tool to trail their young teenagers every second of the time. They will feel restricted and rebel, of course. So the question is not about whether to give them a handphone or not. The age of the child is also not important since 3 year-olds are seen to be pretending to talk on toy handphones like adults. The question is whether WE as parents are responsible enough to guide our children and turn them into responsible children or teenagers.
Monitoring and proper guidance is the key. Without it, phone abuse can and will happen. We cannot compare our childhood to theirs now. A lot of things have changed, technology has progressed way beyond our imagination. Why not use it to our benefit?
I can track my kids whereabout(using the FIND FRIEND function provided by the mobile co.). I can see who they are talking to and what they are sending to each other(SMS, MMS, etc) by monitoring the phone usage. They can reach me if they need anything and vice versa.
I have a teen son and I am sort of agree and disagree they should have a handphone.
Agree: We should control their usgae and when the time of needs. For example during family outdoor activities such as holiday in some other places or just go to a shopping complex.
Disagree: Strictly no handphone in all education activities such as tuition classes or school functions.
Handphones are freedom and freedom always come with a price. If we are discipline enough to use this freedom then it will be an advantage to us. If we are not, the result will be bad,
My point of view is, what the use if there is a technology and we are not using it. We as parent should allow the children to use the technology but in a control way. The misuse of the technology is because parents are lazy to follow up. Therefore the blame is not on the technology but the parent istself.
My friend gave his kids handphones. One day he found his ex-maid's boyfriend sending inviting messages to his daughter who was like 8 years old only.
Luckily it was just an "invite" for makan. Imagine if it was something obscene?
So scary. How do we protect our children from these things?
First of all, we need to underline the objective of giving our children a handphone. Secondly, is the government schools equipped with phone booth for the children to call home just in case of any emergency ? Thirdly most parents should be blamed because we are the ones that exposed our children to the material world and did not educate them the actual usage of a phone. I can some parents like to spend hours on the phone talking or sending sms in front of their children. Don;t forget that our children carry the parents genes and DNA, so waht we did in our childhood might be reflected by our children.
I don't allow my 10 year old daughter to carry her handphone to school but to tuition class (for security reason).
Its easier say than done, do we actually think that it is easy to control and monitor our children nowadays to use the hand phone. Please remember that the parents will be the last to konw the nagative side of their life. Parents who give their children to go to school looking for the easy way out. The hand phone is for us to save time and not waste time, check your children phone bill and you will know how well you monitored and control them. the school have their responsibity and we has ours to help the school.
I will put put my 2 cents here, i am currently 23 and my parents never gave me a handphone. My time was when handphone just started to bloom where it was quite a luxury to be even holding one and at those time there was only motorolla thats huge like a botel of water then later came out the ericsson which is much smaller. Slowly my peers had one and it sort of become the in thing. At the age of 15 a phone was given to me (not from parents) and looking back now indeed i would agree that handphone is not necessary, could live without it. However i do believe that there are more set backs owning one then not owning at all because whether you like it or not, the world advances and so would the life style of that generation and if you all trying to protect your kids from means of communication your into one wild ride. The thing for me is getting your children to understand the responsibility that comes with the gadget and if/she acts irresponsible then act accordingly. Don't go check there messages or what so ever that feels very intruding to there privacy and at a teenage life they would love there privacy to respected or hell would break loose but of course there are exceptions to it so what i am trying to say is if you really want to know what she/he been up to go find out discretely and if it is not such a big deal then drop it don't go question them and DATING is not a big deal SEX is!!!
I think based on the article, Lim Fun Jin makes a better case. It's not a matter of yes or no to handphones, it's a matter of WHEN handphones!
Just because youths didn't use handphones years ago doesn't mean they shouldn't use them now, that's a very closed way of thinking. If the vaccine for H1N1 came out tomorrow, would you say we didn't have it yesterday so we won't take it?
And digging through a child's personal SMS/email/dairy etc just sends a very very strong message to your child that you don't trust him, and as Precious Pearl rightfully pointed out, they will rebel.
Besides, do you really think youths know how to use handphones, facebook and MSN, and yet don't know how to simply clear their history?
Another question with technology is: How young is too young? Besides the social aspect, there have always been health concerns surrounding technology and kids as well, have a look at http://wp.me/pzXVI-2e