How old do you think someone should be until they are capable of handling a smart phone? What criteria would you develop to satisfy yourself with giving someone in elementary school a smart phone? I can easily find myself saying “back in my day” to the campers when it comes to technology, I am of course approaching 30…in several years.
Today I met someone who is entering Grade 1 in the fall, and has been in possession of her own smart phone since February. I joked when she mentioned that her mother texted her during lunch break, then quickly realized there was nothing funny about that. I didn’t know what to think…well, I did think too young. Perhaps the teacher brain in me immediately wanted to shut it down until I could widen my perspective on the situation.
There are many pros to having a smart phone at a young age. Children are mastering technology at a far earlier rate simply because they have access to it. The only issue is that the access to this technology allows children to have virtual exposure to everything, which is alarming to me. I think it is too young for someone that age to have a phone, simply because the responsibility of the internet is something that I believe children do not have a grasp on at that age, even some adults are still figuring that out.
Digital citizenship is a mentorship and partnership between child and responisibilty figure (family, educator, etc.) and not reinforced simply by providing the tool to become a digital citizen. I compare it to letting someone step out of a cab into the streets of Toronto or NYC (perhaps an Uber, depends on your timeline) and then hoping they make the best choices possible.
I remember back in the day (here I go) when I purchased my first cell phone (LG flip phone) against my parents wishes on a trip to the mall. I could do this thing called texting, unfortunately none of my friends could text so it was basically me figuring out how many times I had to hit the 9 key to find the letter Z (4 times). I am sure we all have those stories and that part of evolving is that our major milestones will be reached far sooner by the next generation. The question is, does that make it OK? How young is too young without sounding like the old guy? …And don’t we get to sound like the old guy because we are now the old guy (27 is the new 72 I think)?