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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 12:43 GMT
Kids' mobile phones: Your reaction

Some observers in the telecommunications industry suggest that as many as 300,000 children in the UK now own a cellphone - up from a mere 3,000 just two years ago.

Are mobiles good or bad for children?

Absolutely terrible. They produce a barrier in that using them does not require a child to utilise social skills such as the portrayal of feelings through facial expressions.

My concern is medical not social or educational. What few people realise is that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation. Young developing brains subject to high levels of radiation must be a source of worry to all.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland

Why would anyone want to give their children a mobile phone. In school it disrupts lessons, after school they should be going home anyway or if otherwise, the parents should already know what's planned. Kids aren't independent of their parents yet so why are we giving them such independence at a young age. Let them grow up in their own time, not hurry them along. Who pays for it anyway? The poor parents who have enough difficulty paying the important bills in the house.
Theodora, Australia

If you place two mobiles together with two sheets of glass in between them, and place an egg in between the two sheets of glass, the egg will FRY when you ring one mobile from the other. That's terrifying. And in case any parents says that's why we have hands free kit, few children will use them because playground culture dictates that it's uncool which is a fundamental influence on a child. Besides, why does the child need it? What's wrong with ringing the school? I always got my messages via the office with no problems whatsoever.
Alex Banks, Wales

Mobiles are good for children, they aid interaction with others and can help parents keep in touch with them and monitor what they are doing. They should though be kept outside of school as they are of absolutely no use during school hours. Schools should provide lockers for the children to place their phones, switched off, where they can go at the end of the day and collect their phones.
Andrew Leonard, UK

Are mobile phones part of the computer age? If so then used correctly there should be no problem.
R Cliff UK

Here in the land of the dysfunctional family unit (USA) a mobile phone is almost a must for a child. With almost every parent taking the stance "I had the kid, now society can raise them" a mobile phone is the only means of communication between family members.
Brad Sharples, USA

Why would any child need to have a mobile phone switched on during school anyway? If they have to have mobile phones, for whatever reason, why don't they do what I do when I'm in a meeting and switch it off? They can retrieve any important messages during break times. Anyone who is using a mobile phone during lesson time should have it confiscated anyway. There is a time and a place for everything - just like mobile phones are a scurge in a railway carriage, so they are in a classroom.
Nicky, UK

Phones for children - yes. Phones at school - no.
My 13-year-old son has a mobile, which he brought by saving his pocket money (although I buy the vouchers for it). He uses it to call his friends, and we use it to call him in at meal times. We have never allowed him to take it to school. This was a conscious decision even before the school banned them (after my suggestion to the Head).
There are two potential problems with phones at school, the disruption to education for the owner and classmates, and the risk of theft and abuse by other pupils. Incidentally, I am a school governor and I work for a mobile phone company.
Keith Lomax, UK

As a child my mother used to always send me to school with a 2p piece, just in case I need to get into contact. A mobile phone for children is merely an extension of this principle for a society that is ten times more security conscious than it was in the 70's.
Roy Chapman, UK/Germany

I think children will learn to communicate better amongst themselves, thus improving their social skills.
Johnny Maelstrom, Ghana
I think children will learn to communicate better amongst themselves, thus improving their social skills. However, how can we expect our children to use their mobile phones responsibly if the adults can not either. Adults set the example, but many people seem unable to use their phone quietly and discretely in public places.
Johnny Maelstrom, Ghana

I fail to understand why children need mobile phones. Their circle of friends usually consists of other kids they see on a regular basis anyway (at school, clubs and activities), and it is then that they would chat and make any arrangements to meet up outside of those times.
Teenagers, on the other hand, are an entirely different kettle of fish. What a fantastic way to organise your social life! No more sharing a phone - ever! Mobile phones help individuals develop their freedom and are good provided that there is a firm understanding of the rules, e.g. who is paying for the calls.
I think that secondary school pupils should be allowed mobile phones in school provided they do not have them switched on in class, but at a younger age I suspect they are an unnecessary nuisance.
Lorraine Smith, UK

If you want your children to grow up being antisocial then good luck to you.
Jason, UK
What on Earth is the world coming to? I try to use my mobile as little as possible. Though undeniably convenient, it has a worrying, and unknown health risk attached to it, and is awfully anti-social. If you want your children to grow up being antisocial then good luck to you, but I do not.
Jason, UK

When regular wire telephones were just being introduced to an average home, everybody considered it a very serious device and not a toy. No one thought that bored kids would be allowed to spend hours using something not everyone could afford yet. The same with the automobile, television, the computer, etc. Children need toys and they make everyday devices serve for gaming purposes. Why prevent them from using a cell phone?
Andrej, Russia

First the Millennium Dome and now cell phones for school kids! Is there no end to the increasing lunacy that appears to be manifesting itself in my birthplace? How anybody can justify the outrageous cost of telephones in the UK is beyond me. To suggest that children should be allowed to take cell phones to school to further disturb the zoo-like conditions that already exist in many of them just goes to show how far has fallen the quality of leadership among you poor people.
David Baynes, Canada

Why shouldn't children have mobiles? They are quite functional. And if their parents are going to give them one¿why shouldn't they use it?
D Pyryt, UK

I think mobile phones are good tools and kids are newer too young to learn essential skills to survive in digital domain. At least here in Finland most kids have mobile phones. I think it is very good think for our society.
M., Finland

Since children absorb mobile phone radiation at a faster rate than adults, what do you think?
Steve Cameron, USA

I used to live in England and pretty much everyone I knew didn't have a phone. Now I talk to friends and find out almost everyone I know does have one! I don't see it as being much of a problem for older teens who live away from home or have one for emergency purposes in the car or when they go out at night, but for ten year olds to have them?! That's pretty absurd because they have no real need for a phone. There's no reason they can't use the phone at home!
Sarika, United States of America

Children need stimulation to make them more active (and less obese) not another reason to stand still.
Gerry, Scotland

It is yet another status symbol in society (just like wearing Nike, Reebok etc.) which the parents have to deal with.
Nina Vejnovich, USA
It is yet another status symbol in society (just like wearing Nike, Reebok etc.) which the parents have to deal with. I am sure mobile phone companies are not complaining!
Nina Vejnovich, USA

Speaking as a mother of a 12-year-old who travels a fair distance to school etc, it is somewhat reassuring to know we can contact each other quite easily if we need to. A major downside is the possibility of him being mugged by an older child and of the course the reported fears of having his brain fried by the radiation the 'phone is reported to emit.
Michelle Summer, London, England

I'm still at secondary school and I already have a mobile phone. I only need to use it while travelling home to say what time I will be home and when to pick me up (I live quite a few miles from the nearest bus stop), so the phone is switched off during the whole time I am at school. In this way I do not disrupt classes and I do not know the phone numbers of anyone else's mobile in this school. In my school I have seen one other mobile phone which is not mine, so where the 99.99% of children using it for reasons other than those it was meant to be for is coming from, I do not know.
Thomas van der Elsen, UK

It's just a passing phase, and with the expense of pre-paid phones compared to the normal monthly billing system (only available to over 18s) I'm sure this will be as short lived as Kevin Greening on the Radio One Breakfast show.
Leiza, Mexico

I just think parents today are too scared to say no to their young children. If they have everything at such a young age there is nothing to look forward to. Mobile phones for older teenage children are a good idea especially when they start driving as they can be used in emergencies. But continual chatting on a mobile is very anti-social behaviour and when phones start to ring in Church then you know something is going wrong!
Julie Swales, UK

I have a mobile phone and I am in my last year of 6th form. Children should be able to have a mobile phone as long as it is for a reason. Most people in my school/college who have mobiles only have them as toys, and they obstruct classes, and they are confiscated, however, they get another... and it goes on. But as some others mentioned, they do have a very good use.
Gregory Bennett, England

I never want to hear those parents moaning about the cost of living if they can afford to buy their darlings such a costly fashion accessory.
Andy H, England
I never want to hear those parents moaning about the cost of living if they can afford to buy their darlings such a costly fashion accessory. Judging by the state of some school leavers maybe it would be better spent on their education.
Andy H, England

It is getting quite ridiculous the way the mobile companies are targeting children - and dangerous. There have been three separate studies spanning twenty years that clearly demonstrate that these phones may cause physiological brain damage. Of course that is covered up by government.
Also this unnecessary growth in usage means that people who don't even have mobiles have to put up with ugly and dangerous masts outside their houses.
Mark Watson, England

The problems with children taking phones to school is that 99.99% of the time they use them to cause disruption i.e. ringing each other during class time. The irresponsible parents who give their kids these phones say it is so they can ring for help if they are in trouble. Er ... hello have we not managed without them for years. Children do not need phones and I imagine most teachers would probably agree.
Philip Levy, UK

When they have their own cell phone, they could be able to phone somebody whenever they feel threatened or scared.
C. De Plekker, Belgium
I believe children could benefit from using a cell phone as long as they know there is a certain etiquette that should be respected at all times. When they have their own cell phone, they could be able to phone somebody whenever they feel threatened or scared or going to be late home from school so parents don't have to worry all the time. You can easily keep track of the whereabouts of your children. I don't know if they realise that! But on the other hand phones should be switched off during class, cinema shows, church etc.
C. De Plekker, Belgium

I don't know where Patrick McCafferty went to school, but he must be at least 35. We certainly weren't allowed to have radios and walkmans at school! I just wonder how we all managed to survive without cellphones when we were kids?!
I can't believe that people are seriously discussing whether they should be allowed in schools or not. They are totally inappropriate in schools, especially in the hands of primary school kids, let alone adolescents. You only have to listen to the kind of garbage kids talk to each other about on cellphones to realise how ridiculous the whole thing is!
Carole, Germany

The widespread use of mobile phones is ridiculous. Outside of business and emergency relating calls, this phenomenon illustrates extreme laziness. What is this efficiency for when this abuse of technology only contributes to an image of prestige or importance? With the time that one saves there is only more television to be had. Apathy. It in fact disconnects our youth from each other.
Katei, USA

I have at least some peace of mind knowing that I can contact my teenage son, and he has no excuse for not telling me where he is in the evenings.
Mum, Scotland

Schools here in Houston prohibit students from carrying either pagers or cellphones on school grounds.
Robert Wise, USA
My wife and I are not planning to get a cellphone for either of our children. Of course, we are not planning to get either of them their own landline, either. We have enough extensions to allow privacy and there are enough hours in the day to allow sharing. We allow them to carry my cellphone or my wife's if the need arises. This works quite satisfactorily for us.
Schools here in Houston prohibit students from carrying either pagers or cellphones on school grounds. They are subject to confiscation. The rationale for this policy here has less to do with potential disruption than with concern over potential drug deals.
Robert Wise, USA

Mobiles are good and bad. The greatest risk will be the fact that one day, these children will probably be talking on their mobiles while they drive their cars. This distraction can become deadly, and should therefore be forestalled.
Jessie, USA

Why do kids need cell phones? Who pays for it. Not the kids. My stepson is not going to get one unless he can pay for it. The first time I have to bail him out of his phone bills, the service gets turned off. The bills are expensive. The only reason I can afford one is that I got a very good deal for being an employee of a junior college that uses it for work. The personal use is a side benefit. They are expensive it operate.
Children at school should turn them off while at school. There is no need to talk to friends on the latest trends at school and during classes. We have an instructor that told students that if beepers or cell phones go off during his teaching time, you start losing points for a better grade. It is distracting.
Russ, USA

As long as they learn to pay for them, I'd have said the two greatest worries of every parent (knowing where the kids are and keeping them off the family phone) are solved by this.
David Griffin, UK, but currently in Oz
If they fry your brains, then they are bad, clearly. But aside from that? As long as they learn to pay for them, I'd have said the two greatest worries of every parent (knowing where the kids are and keeping them off the family phone) are solved by this. It might even mean they have less money left over for ciggies and sweets. But it also (as with any expensive craze) makes the poor kids feel left out.
David Griffin, UK, but currently in Oz

I am a teacher in Singapore and mobile phones, beepers and for that matter, any sort of electronic equipment like walkmans, discmans and the likes are banned in public schools and are liable for confiscation. This may seem harsh, but the majority of the youth here are immature when it comes to the usage of telephony.
On the other hand, in the case of an emergency, a cell phone or beeper is crucial in contacting the parents of the child in concern. We are in an age where technology advances with gay abandon and I am not sure whether adults, let alone children are ready to utilise this advancement properly. On one hand, parents feel the need to be able to keep in touch with their children which is commendable as it fosters trust and strengthens their bond with their children. Can schools see it this way?
Vivek Venkatesh, Singapore

Having sold mobile phone for the past 18 months whilst being at college, I have seem mobiles grow in popularity in the teenage generation. I feel that young people should carry mobile phones as it gives them some personal security to be able to contact Mum & Dad, if they needed to.
With regard to mobiles being on in class, schools should invoke a ban on mobiles being switched on in class with the threat of the offending mobile being confiscated if not. My college has this rule set out in the college handbook so everyone knows it.
Also, in reference to Richard's comment on this page as to the safety, there has been many reports showing that there is a minimal amount of radiation emitted from a mobile phone, but an amount so small it does no harm. More radiation is emitted from television sets and computer monitors, which we sit in front of for long periods of time.
Tom H Bird, United Kingdom

I believe that there should be a NO exceptions policy at schools that says if a phone rings in class or the student uses the phone in class that it be immediately turned off and confiscated for the day. There should be allowed only a set number of offences after which the student will not be allowed to have the phone at school for the rest of the year.
Parents have always been able to contact their children at school by calling the school's office. I find it disturbing and embarrassing that this subject is at issue at all and it suggests to me that a great many adults may not have their priorities straight.
Charles Thomson, USA

At home children are attracted by TV programmes and now they have to face the the cellular phones, which can easily take away their concentration. Real nuisance for students and teachers. I can help some extend for students when they are stranded but not always. It will be a monster out grown one day, not easy to control
DR. Naianiappan Daniel, Guyana S. America

Why the heck should children want mobile phones? What in the world is a child going to do with one? It's bad enough being on a train or a bus with some braying yuppie bawling away about how many lagers he drank last night, the woman he picked up, or the money he's made. The last thing we need is to have loads of screaming children wittering into their phones as well...I would have been quite happy if all mobile phone transmitters had self-destructed at the new year...
Antony Shepherd, UK

Children are at school to work and learn. This is the "job" of the child student. Mobiles have no place with children and even less place in schools.
Amy, US

This new craze really is a sign of the times. Logic tells me there is a good argument for mobile phones in the hands of children, as mentioned by Paul Brannan. But I imagine there will be some young people all too eager to abuse such unsupervised phone use. Crank call, anyone?
Kaye E, UK

We have provided my daughter with a mobile phone (she is 15) so that she can contact us at any time. My wife and I work so it is essential that she can inform us about any changes regarding clubs, pick up points etc. I do not have any worries about whether it is good or bad - it is definitely good for us. She takes the phone to school as do many of her friends but so what? We used to take radios/walkmen to school. She knows it will be confiscated if she keeps it on during lessons so it is only used during breaks. Personal communication at all times is the future. Lets get used to it.
Patrick McCafferty, UK

Well I managed to survive my school years without the need of a mobile phone. I used to keep a 10p coin in my wallet for a pay phone in case of emergencies. This is probably more to do with one-up-manship than anything else.
Mark Massie, United Kingdom

It is probably a good thing with regards to personal safety, but what about the safety of the phone itself on a still developing child's brain? Until this area of mobile phone use has been clarified/dismissed there should still be the need for caution, (or at least hands free kits!).
Richard, UK

I am horrified that children are allowed to take mobile phones to school. If I were a headteacher I would ban them from the site altogether. They are a disruptive nuisance, and I for one refuse to buy one.
Madeline Cox, UK

The rise in mobile phone use is OK, as long as good manners are used with them. I hate going home from work and having to listen to 20 other people telling their partners about how bad their day was only to end with the line - 'I'll see you in 5 minutes'. As long as the are used correctly, by both adults and children, there is no problem with more phones in use.
Bill Duff, UK

Each of my 3 daughters has a cell phone - pay as you go. However, I still think that for any child to have a phone turned on during lessons is completely out of order, to use the vernacular. In my day, it was bad enough to be caught talking in class, let alone phoning the cute blonde fourth former! Let children have a childhood, leave something for them to aspire to "when they grow up".
John Norman, UK

Mobiles are as much an irritating menace in the hands of children as they are with adults, for everyone bought in the name of safety they are misused in school just as adults use them to phone someone in the next aisle in the supermarket!
Maureen Casey, England

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See also:
05 Jan 00 |  UK
Mobile phones: Child's play?
05 Jan 00 |  Business
Mobile phone ownership surges
29 Jul 98 |  Education
Teachers back mobile phone ban
22 Sep 99 |  UK Politics
Mobiles pose no health risk - MPs

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