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Cell phones: How early is too early?

It's only been in the last year that my 15-year-old babysitter got her own cell phone, and while I was happy to have a direct route of connection with the person who makes my date nights possible, my mind reeled at the idea that a kid who is still a year away from driving would need a phone of her own. So it goes without saying that I'm even more puzzled by even younger children fully wired up.

And yet the cell phone culture has gone from early adopters to the college kids to the high school kids to the tweens, and every passing year marks another new age group that is toting mobile phones. According to data put out by Nielsen, the average age at which a child gets a cell phone dropped to 9.7 years in the first quarter of this year. One in five 8-year-olds are cell phone users. I have no idea who they could possibly be talking to.

I'm sympathetic to the argument that there is a certain safety and convenience factor to being able to catch up with your kid at any time, and I applaud that many parents are -- at the least -- setting some limits on phone use. My babysitter got her phone in no small part because she was going on an out-of-state trip with her choir, making a cell phone a reliable way for her parents to keep tabs on her. But beyond that, I fail to see any huge advantages for parents. For those rare moments where a kid really does need to be picked up early from soccer practice, there are still pay phones, right?

Part of my gut reaction against mobile-phone-packing 10-year-olds is philosophical: There will be time enough for pointless chatter and endless interruptions during the teen years and beyond. A 9-year-old should be given the freedom to be untethered every once in a while -- untethered from parents, untethered from friends, able to explore or read or relax without always being attuned to a vibration from their backpack.

I suppose that by the time my kids are 15-year-olds taking babysitting jobs, they will probably have a phone of their own, but I can't imagine giving them one any earlier. How about you all: What's the right age to join the always-on cell phone world?

By Brian Reid |  November 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Teens , Tweens
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Comments


"One in five 8-year-olds are cell phone users. I have no idea who they could possibly be talking to. "

How old were you when you started talking on your parents' land line phone? Who were you talking to?


"For those rare moments where a kid really does need to be picked up early from soccer practice, there are still pay phones, right?"

Wrongo bongo.

When was the last time you used a pay phone near a soccer field? Or anywhere else?

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 10, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit I haven't seen a pay phone in ages. I agree with Jezebel, this generation is using a cell phone like we used a land line. The only difference is they can lose it. My 12 year old niece took her cell phone to a fair and left it there. She is getting a replacement phone for Christmas. Hopefully the last time she loses a phone but I wouldn't count on it. I know adults that have broken or lost phones.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 10, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

My kids will have (cheap) cell phones as soon as I think they are responsable enough not to lose them. I remember being stuck LOTS of times in a place with no pay phone and wishing I could call for a ride home. And it's easy enough to get phones that can be programmed only to call (or get calls) from pre-selected numbers.

I pay $7 a month for my cell phone and it cost $20 for the phone itself, so it's not like these thins are particularly expensive.

Posted by: floof | November 10, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

"One in five 8-year-olds are cell phone users. I have no idea who they could possibly be talking to."

They're talking to each other, and occasionally to family members. Just like you used to use your parents' phone to talk to your friends, and occasionally to Grandma and Grandpa.

"For those rare moments where a kid really does need to be picked up early from soccer practice, there are still pay phones, right?"

No, there aren't. The number of payphones in the US is down by more than three-quarters in the last ten years; I believe that every major carrier has terminated or is terminating all of its payphones and only independently-operated phones survive. Not to mention the fact that payphones require a kid to carry correct change; what are the odds of that?

Oldest DD got a cellphone at 17, when she started driving by herself and got lost in some very bad neighborhoods in Baltimore trying to pick up her brother from school. DS got a cellphone at 17, when he was driving himself to school and work. Middle DD got a cellphone at 16 when she was on the softball team and in the chorus and always had to be picked up or dropped off at inopportune times.

Youngest DD got a cell phone at 13, but that was only because oldest DD went to London for a year of study abroad and I wanted to keep the line on my account. It will be interesting to see what happens when oldest DD gets back: do I get a sixth phone line, or can I successfully pry that phone out of youngest DD's hands and give it back to her oldest sister? I know which way I'm betting. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | November 10, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Where do you get a cell phone for $7 a month - I need that plan! Is it a "pay as you go"?

Posted by: lapradem | November 10, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Good luck finding a payphone that works.

Posted by: skipmoskey | November 10, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

It's exactly the other way around -- children/tweens/teens need to be "tethered". When you are an adult you can turn off and set aside the gizmo(s) anytime you want and be free. But not your child!!!! There are very few pay phones and it is unlikely that your child will have coins or know how to make a collect call.

Posted by: Bear4 | November 10, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

I believe the reason so many younger kids have cell phones is that they have divorced parents. It seems like one parent, usually the non-custodial one, gives the child a cell phone so that the child can call whenever they want. Frequently this seems more manipulative than practical, but once some elementary school kids have cell phones, the rest want them.

As for the age when a child should get a cell phone, I tell my daughter she doesn't need one until she spends significant time without adult supervision. She will start middle school next year, and I am going to let her walk home after school rather than picking her up. That's when I think she will need a cell phone.

Posted by: lhnorwalk | November 10, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Jexebel is right, there are no payphones near fields - or hardly anywhere. Brian, do you get out much?

I don't care if people think it is ridiculous that my 8 year old has a cell phone, and I certainly don't care if someone is wondering who they are talking to. It's really noneya business.

The phone were free when we re-upped our plan with Verizon and it costs 5$ per phone monthly. We didn't have to upgrade our minutes because we never used them all anyways, not to mention the unlimited texting costs (maybe 20$/month) is worth it's weight in gold since I text certain people and my daughter texts her friends.

Both kids have had their phones for 18 months, never been lost. It's a cheap, easy way to keep tabs even if they are in the hood running around. Sometimes the mother "yell" doesn't carry to the outlying areas and if they have their phone I call them to come in for dinner.

Here is the standard disclaimer, everything can be "abused", parental controls, blah, blah, blah. Hasn't this been discussed 463 times already? What next, should kids have internet access?

Posted by: cheekymonkey | November 10, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

While I agree that it is a convenience to have a phone connection with my kid, can be problematic. Both of my girls, in hindsight, got their phones too early. The older one, now 15, had boys sending her obscene messages when she was 13/14 and she did not know how to stop it. We now have the phone indefinitely. Our younger one has a totally different issue... cell phone bullies... went from school yard to internet to cell phones. This generation does use the cell phone like a land line... but my parents heard what I was talking about and know who I was talking to and when I was talking.

Posted by: ugh3 | November 10, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Gosh Brian, did you move out into the sticks or something?

Nowadays, I would say that by age 12, certainly 13, a girl should be provided with a cell phone. Not so much for parents to keep tabs on her, but for her own personal use. Unlimited texting is good too. For tweenage girls , direct and steady communication with their peers is absolutely essential for their emotional growth and social development. If you deny your tweenage daughter access to these widely used networks made possible by the cell phone, you run the risk of the onset of all kinds of disorders associated with depression and isolation. Personally, though I believe that every parent should raise their children as they see fit, it does disturb me that some parents actually *TRY* to turn their kids into outcasts and social misfits. But this only goes for girls, boys are different.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 10, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

lapradem- it's a virgin mobile phone, which is pay as you go. The minimum you pay to keep it operational is $20 every 3 months, which works out to about 60 minutes a month. I rarely use my phone, so I have never come close to using all my minutes, and they roll over, which is nice so I can use my phone more extensively on long trips.

It's a good plan if you only use your phone for emergencies. Prior to this my husband and I were using sprint and this saved us on the order of $70 a month.

Posted by: floof | November 10, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and here is an interesting follow-up to the discussion about the problems of head injuries in football, in case anyone hasn't seen it:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/06/AR2009110603465.html?hpid=sec-health

Posted by: floof | November 10, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Ugh, don't you have parental controls on your kid's phones? Can't you block certain callers? We can. I'm not saying that will prevent all the sexuality and bullying, but heck, you can't walk into a HS without the possibility of being bullied - elementary too. The phone is just one more method, as is the internet. Jr HS's and HS's have policies pertaining to bullying and sexting and it's up to the parents to report the infractions, which is why you have to have controls. We've already encountered a kid passing along smutty chain texts, we had a discussion with the little punk and blocked his calls. Our daughter told us about it and we took care of it, although I know it's not always that easy.

BTW, my parents never knew who I was talking to on the land line - how could they possibly have monitored my phone usage 24/7 as a teenager? They were lucky to get me off the phone. Whispering into the phone, pulling the cord behind a closed door, using code language (yes, we did this) and calling the weather line so that our friends could call through in the middle of the night so that the phone didn't ring were just a couple of the tactics.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | November 10, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Cell phones for kids today are really no different than the "teen lines" we had when we were kids, aside from the portability.

And because it hasn't been mentioned enough times yet :), there are no payphones anymore. The only place I see them these days is at airports. There certainly aren't any at the local soccer fields.

Posted by: dennis5 | November 10, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Wow - Wackyweasel - that seems harsh. My 14-year-old daughter doesn't have a cell phone. And since her friends that do can't use them most of the time (b/c they are prohibited at school, etc)or they aren't carrying them with them around their houses and so she just leaves messages - it's almost easier for her to call them at home and catch them on the landline.

On an amusing note - we were debating whether or not we needed her to have a phone in high school, just in case of the get's lost at the soccer field, etc. - and her 12-year-old brother said "I don't need a cell phone. If practice gets cancelled, I'll just borrow someone else's cell phone to call you - everyone has them."

Posted by: Amelia5 | November 10, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I don't know how early is too early but I can't see my step-son having his own personal phone any time soon. He is 7. He barely knows how to use our cell phones which makes it a little pointless to have his own.

Posted by: Billie_R | November 10, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I had my own land line at 12, how is that different from having a cell phone? That line only rang in the bedroom I shared with my sister. We had our own answering machine. My parents did not answer it. SO yeah, I don't think I'd have any problem getting a 12 year old a cell phone (with unlimited text).

But seriously - wasn't this the topic about a month ago? How many times can cell phones be discussed on this blog, in a 4 week period?

Why not talk about the fact that today is the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street? Who is your/your kids' favorite character? Do you feel your kids learned something from it? Do you sit down and watch with your kids? (The reason for so many storeis/jokes that mean something entirely different to adults than kids - they wanted the parents to watch WITH the kids.) Personally, my favorite was always Snuffalufugus, however you spell that. I loved that only Big Bird and the kids at home got to see him.

Posted by: JHBVA | November 10, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

My local school district has apparently decided that grade 6 is when a child should have his/her own cellphone.
My town's middle school includes grades 6 through 8. Some of the students are only 11 years old. There is no payphone at the school, and students are not allowed to use the phone in the office to call home for a ride if practice is cancelled or for any other reason. The school expects that they will have cellphones available for that purpose.

Posted by: newengland1 | November 10, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

When I was in high school about 8 years ago, cell phones were banned but many of us had them. My parents gave me one so I could call my Dad for rides before I could drive or so my Mom could get a hold of me after I could drive if she needed something, since she was sick. I wasn't allowed to give out the number to my friends or to call my friends with it. It was strictly for emergencies. I don't see why parents worried about bullying or sex texting or whatever can't use this system. Also, before someone says how do you know what your child is doing with the cell phone-you can still get the bill itemized to see who is calling and if texting is being done.

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 10, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Not only are pay phones few and far between, just hope if you have one you don't have to call collect.
We just got a $35 bill for a 7 minute call (long call to work out some details). Makes a cell phone seem cheap.

Posted by: inBoston | November 10, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I walked to and from school when I was in third grade. By myself. Wow.
I think cell phone use at an early age for some is another way to be a helicopter parent.
My parents NEVER picked me up from school. Ever. Not after practice, not after school, not if practice was canceled. I had to find my own way home, ever day, since third grade.
I know, people say: but it's so much more dangerous now. But, really, it's not. There are fewer incidents with kids out there - but now we have 24 hour news...on many channels. so we see these terrible stories. over and over. years ago, we just didn't.

if my kid wants a cell phone, well, he can get one when he pays for it. kids went on long distance trips when i was a kid - and we didn't have cell phones - and well, so we didn't talk to our parents for a few days. the horror. i went to sleepaway camp for *8* weeks when I was a kid and maybe would call once a week - for five minutes - maybe - and perhaps sometimes I would write letters home. now they have daily website updates, and parents freak out that their kids can't have their cell phones, etc. it's unbelievable.

perhaps i would want my kid to have a cell phone when he drives, but probably he won't have his own car (unless he gets it himself) - so he could borrow my cell phone when he's driving...in my car. (well, DH and I are already arguing about whether we'd get him a car or not).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 10, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

DD1 got a cell (no texting) in 5th grade (coming home from school by herself). DD2 got a cell phone (we upgraded to unlimited texting) in 4th when she came home by herself. DS got a cell phone this summer (9.5 years old) before starting 4th, as he is coming home by himself. He mostly calls me on our land line once he gets home, and leaves his cell in his backpack. He's texted me twice in 4 months and tells me the reason he doesn't use his phone too much is his friends don't have phones yet. The girls can't seem to live without them, but they are off and in their lockers while at school.

Posted by: pamsdds | November 10, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

and we talk about getting rid of our land line (can't at the moment due to alarm functioning) - but i don't want my kid to have their own line. cause I want to be able to see who's calling them and all that.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 10, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree about parental controls... our provider (T-mobile) is not great in that respect. Changing when contract is up.. in the meantime, life is a lot less stressful for our kids without the phones... there is more time for everything because they don't feel the pressure of technology calling them to respond constantly. And if they need to call us they find a trusted adult (parent, teacher) who can lend them a phone. I don't feel that I am isolating them from a peer group... quite the contrary... I think I am encouraging them to have social skills by requiring them to talk to a human being rather than text.

Posted by: ugh3 | November 10, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

atlmom1234

Curious how you found your way home daily since 3rd grade. Was your school really close to your house? My schools were miles away-other than be a mooch for rides from other people's parents or drive with new teenage drivers-I don't see how this is a possibility for most kids. And most districts around where I live have given up Activiy Buses long ago.

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 10, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

oh, and i don't text on my phone so, well, i wouldn't want to be paying for my kid to be texting on theirs.
while i would love a crackberry or an iphone, well, i'm not getting one any time soon. b/c of cost. so not likely my kid would get one either.
where do you people get all this disposable income?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 10, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

where do you people get all this disposable income?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 10, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Where did your parents get the money for sleepaway camp for *8* weeks ?

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 10, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

atlmom1234,

Not everyone lives within walking distance of their child's school. A walk from my elementary school would have taken me about two hours, most of which would have been in a busy street with no sidewalk. I suppose I could have walked home from high school, but it was about 11 miles and I would have had to walk on the highway.

I suppose my parents could have left me to beg rides of my friends' parents, but I don't think it's really right to ask favors like that all the time without reciprocating.

Also, as to this

where do you people get all this disposable income?

as I said not all cell phones are expensive. I think I can text on mine, but I don't because I don't really understand the point. You can get a cell phone that does everything you need it to do for $20 or less.

Posted by: floof | November 10, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I think unlimited texting with Verizon is only around $10 a month-or maybe different with different plans don't know, but know it isn't much. You divide that over 4 weeks in a month and doesn't seem very significant-less than one trip to Starbucks a week. Great when you want to ask someone a quick question without interrupting them by calling them or if you just want to say hi to your spouse during work day but don't know if they are in a meeting.

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 10, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

sunflower: for 1st and 2nd grade, i walked home with my sister (and to school, too). i don't know, it took me maybe 1/2 an hour? It was a mile? We had to cross one major road, but there was a crossing guard. The one thing about my son's school is that there is one major street...but not close enough, so no crossing guard. And in 3rd grade, he'll be with his brother, who isn't the best listener, so probably my 3rd grader won't be walking next year (if younger kid goes to kindergarten and we don't hold him back - he takes the bus home this year).
we can walk to elem. middle and high school - but i suspect in middle/high school, they'll ride bikes (or be lucky like me to have a friend with her own car - she was happy to pick me up and drive me to school).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 10, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Nine years ago, I was the hated parent that got my daughter a cell-phone for her 9th birthday. Hated by the other parents, that is, as back then, lots of adults didn't even have phones, and this inspired other kids to ask for them. Although of course my daughter was thrilled, my reasons were actually selfish and practical. As a small business owner, I could close up shop for a few minutes to pick her up from an activity, but so often, the activity would not end as scheduled, which meant waiting around for extra time -- time my business remained needlessly unattended. So much better to wait for a call, then leave, knowing my daughter would be ready to go.
I was also the hated parent who allowed my daughter to freely walk, bike, or ride the bus at an earlier age than most of her peers. Knowing she was an easy phone call away meant I did not have to worry or wonder where she was.
There is also the added benefit of being able to suspend the phone at any time, as a convenient punishment as needed. She was generally at least as responsible with her phones as most adults, with phones lasting over a year before being damaged, at which point she had to earn the money for replacement, though if she had not earned enough by Christmas or her birthday, we would usually make the new phone her gift, since her not having the phone directly translated into inconvenience for us as much as her.
I would go even earlier these days, probably kindergarten. If my kid gets sick at school or there is a problem, I want to know about it.

Posted by: rh36 | November 10, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

atlmom1234

That would have been nice as a kid to live closer to my schools. Once my Mom was too sick to drive I would have to convince my friends to join the same activities as me so I could bum rides from their parents when my Dad had to work late. Was kinda a pain but I suppose it was early training in sales-convincing my friends to do whatever activities I wanted to do. I wouldn't want my kid to have to be in the same position though-hopefully by that point one of us will have a flexible schedule or we can buy a 3rd car. I just don't think you can expect everyone to make their kids fend for themselves. It is a shame that more schools don't have Activity buses since kids need to do so many activities now to get into college and so many mothers work outside of the home, etc.

Also, I have never seen any bikes outside of the schools so not sure if that is allowed around here.

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 10, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Atlmom, you confuse me. how can you say that giving a kid a cell phone is another way to helicopter a kid and at your next post say you won't give your son his own line because you want to monitor his calls? I would say the latter is more of a helicopter technique than the former.

But why does every parenting decision have to be focused around some tangible utilitarian purpose. For instance, I just sent my teenage daughter a text message that went like this:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I got bored at the office,
So I texted this poem to you.

Sure, when she reads it, she'll roll her eyes and tell her friend next to her what a dopey dad she has, but still, she'll know that she was thought of and feel loved because of it. Love, very, very important, especially for tweens and teens. Communication has everything to do with it.

And talking about love, cell phones and money, since people get unlimited minutes/texting if they call/text someone on their network, meeting a potential date that is off their network can be a deal breaker.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 10, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Whacky.

Why must all of your comments be so blatantly sexist? Has it never occured to you that the differences you see between girls and boys are only the result of differences in the way you have treated them since probably before they were even born?

Posted by: EAR0614 | November 10, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Younger son, who is 12, has been occasionally mentioning that he'd like a cell phone for the last year or so. I think *some* kids at his middle school have them.

DH and I tell him he can buy his own (just like the boys have to buy their own video/electronic games).

Older son has never shown any interest in a cell phone, but that's certainly due to his autism.

DH doesn't have a cell, and I carry the one my employer provides, but turn it off or ignore it at the slightest excuse. It is possible to live happily and comfortably in the 21st century without one.

Posted by: SueMc | November 10, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

WhackyWeasel,

You are such a nice sensitive Dad!!

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 10, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

whacky: well, i won't MONITOR anyone's calls. I would like , however to have some ideaa about who might be calling (i..e, taking messages. i.e., - having a FAMILY line - so everyone can know how to aanswer a phone, take messages, learn some etiquette - I think those things are leaving us - given that most people answer their phones: hey - since they know who is calling). I don't think it's helicoptering (a new verb!) - to know, sometimes, who is calling my children.

Sunflower: so sad. We had a bus sometimes (depending on which school and which year, when they moved to middle school/9th grade in high school, I got a bus in 6th grade and 9th grade cause it wa the first few years, and, well, the rules for the bus were based on elementary school being til 6th grade and 9th grade being in junior high). We have actually had opportunities to move and we are being incredibly particular about where and what part of the country and all that - partially to get far away from a car mentality - my husband gets mad at me for 'urbanizing' him (he rides his bike to work most of the time now). We're incredibly lucky to live where we do, since we bought this house before kids and while we knew where the schools were, that wasn't the deciding factor.
I do think it's sad that we have become so devoted to our cars in this country - in NY - I could take a bus to queens or a train to NYC when I was quite young.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 10, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

EAR0614, observing the physiological differences, emotional needs and desires between males and females, and treating them accordingly is not intrinsically sexists. To treat males as if they were females, or to treat females as if they were males Is disingenuous to both sexes.

Case in point, if I come home tonight and give my son a hug and kiss and punch my daughter on the arm, they would probably gang up on me, pin me down, and tickle my feet relentlously until I cried "UNCLE" and promised them ice cream with a cherry on top.

I hate when that happens.

But blatently sexist? OK, maybe, but only in that I believe that women are more important than men, especially to me. I suppose it shows through in my posts.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 10, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"Why not talk about the fact that today is the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street?"

"When I find I can't remember
What comes after
"A" and before "C,"
My mother always whispers,
"Letter B."

She told me "B" starts
"Big" and "bird" and
"Ball" and "bat" and "battery."
Yes, buh-buh-buh-buh-buh means
Letter B.

Letter B, letter B, letter B, letter B.
She whispers "Buh-buh-buh means Letter B."

And when I feel downhearted,
Mother whispers
"B" words constantly,
Like "bib," "Bob," "Bulb," and "bubble,"
Letter B.

Now in my hour of darkness
There's a sound I know will comfort me,
It's the buh-buh-buh-buh-buh of
Letter B.

Letter B, letter B, letter B, letter B.
My mother whispers "B" words,
Letter B.

Letter B, letter B, letter B, letter B.
My mother whispers "B" words,
Letter B.

Letter B, letter B, letter B, letter B.
Bless the "buh-buh" sound of
Letter B."

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | November 10, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Just saw this on http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/11/10/cell.phones.cancer.tumors/index.html:

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Evidence is mixed, but some experts advocate safer cell phone practices

Electromagnetic radiation given off by cell phones is too weak to cause direct DNA damage

But there could be indirect ways DNA could be harmed through phones

Corded headsets and speaker phones can help mitigate radiation effects


RELATED TOPICS
Cellular Phones
Brain Cancer
Cancer
(CNN) -- In the year since a U.S. cancer researcher's warning drew wide attention, more evidence is emerging that long-term cell phone use is associated with cancer, but there's still not a definitive explanation or proof of cause and effect.

Last summer, Dr. Ronald Herberman, then director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, issued a warning to about 3,000 faculty and staff, listing steps to avoid harmful electromagnetic radiation from cell phones. This included keeping the phone away from the body as much as possible and not allowing children to use cell phones except in emergencies.

"Since I put out that precautionary advisory in July of last year, I believe there is more indication for concern, particularly among children," he recently said.

Posted by: sunflower571 | November 10, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Altmom, see RH36's comments. If you want to control your kid's phone time, you might be a helicopter parent. If you question how a parent affords a free phone with a small monthly fee, you might be a noseybody.

Thank goodness we have you as an arbiter of common sense. Making statements like "my parent's NEVER picked me up from practice" are so helpful, because we all know that everyone's circumstances are exactly the same. Thanks for your wisdom and criticisms.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | November 10, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I strongly resisted getting a cell phone for MANY years. I have a long auto commute (1 hr each way, and no viable public transportation), and I treasure it as "down time" between the office and home, so I didn't want to be reachable 24/7.

Then one evening I had an important scheduled phone call, and I even left work early so I could get home in plenty of time. Alas, there was an accident that tied up the highway for 45 minutes. As soon as I got free of it (I was only about 5 minutes late for my call), I drove to the nearest place where I thought there would be a pay phone -- a hotel. No such luck.

I tried a couple of gas stations (nope), and finally ended up persuading the manager of a natural foods grocery to let me use one of their lines for a few minutes (I was calling an 800 number). By that time I was over half an hour late for my call, and things were very awkward.

A few days later I got a cell phone.

Posted by: PLozar | November 10, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I'll pile on the try to find a payphone side with the help of the WPost. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2007/11/22/GR2007112200093.html

Posted by: surgu | November 11, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the article link sunflower571. In all decisions for our kids we all need to weigh the pros vs the cons. The cancer studies make this an easy one for our family. I think all parents want the best for their kids and for us that means keeping processed food to a minimum, lots and lots of sports and exercise, encouraging a love of reading, and no cell phones.

Posted by: ctmama1 | November 12, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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