Social Question

jordym84's avatar

How young is too young to have a cellphone and a social media account?

Asked by jordym84 (4742points) March 13th, 2013

At my workplace I keep seeing tons of little kids (some as young as 6 years of age) with iPhones and iPads and it never fails to shock me. Just a few days ago I was using my company’s internal transportation and there was a family of 6 sitting next to me and they all had their very own latest-generation iPhones. The 4 kids ranged in age from 6 to no older than 11 and they all had Facebook accounts. The whole time everyone had their faces buried in their phones checking their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, including the parents.

Does it shock you to see little kids with cellphones or is it just another one of those things that you’ve gotten used to due to its prevalence? Am I overreacting by being shocked or is there really a right age for kids to be introduced to that kind of media? Also, in your opinion, how young is too young to have a Facebook account?

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19 Answers

bookish1's avatar

And their tech is probably made by children too…

Shippy's avatar

It’s so sad, when I was young I climbed trees, made friends had picnics, rode my cycle, learned how to put on makeup, plus had privacy. One can argue it is progress and the world as it is. Personally I feel it is just throwing your childhood down a toilet.

I blame parents really, for allowing their kids to buy and have these devices. And as long as there is demand so will there by supply. So really no jokes, too young? I’d say at least 35 years old. Go and live a little before succumbing to the fast food nature of the net.

Sunny2's avatar

O Brave New World. We’re approaching it quickly.

longgone's avatar

Hm, I don’t know. The thing is – I doubt the parents you’re talking about have climbed a lot of trees in their childhood. I don’t think cellphones are the real problem here. It’s the way you choose to deal (or not deal) with your children. Active, well-adjusted kids won’t see their cellphones as an alternative to real life.

TheKBird's avatar

Well, when I was little we had things like gameboy and the handheld sega thing, which is similar but not as stimulating as an iphone. I think some parents might not always look at them as phones so much anymore as toys and it keeps their kids occupied so they can do other things, which I don’t necessarily feel is a good thing. I don’t have children, but I don’t think I’d let them have a phone until they start doing after school activities. That’s about when I got mine (though mine only made phone calls, and may have had the Snake game on it). As for facebook, I would do my best to keep them off at least until high school. Growing up is difficult enough with everything you encounter, learn, experience, and have imprinted on you and being exposed to that much media and information without being properly equipped to handle it right through parental guidance. If they’re going to be exposed to it, then there should probably be enough parental involvement to counter what they come across and keep them grounded, if that makes sense.

bkcunningham's avatar

It is their business. It isn’t what I want for my granddaughter at such a young age. It never ceases to make me shake my head in wonder when I see a family with expensive cellphones/expensive cellphone contracts and computers yet they complain about not having enough money to pay their rent or mortgage.

I also agree with you about the FB accounts and other computer accounts for young children. It is their business how they raise their children, but I think it is a scary direction to take when raising children to be well-rounded adults who know how to communicate and interact with others on a personal level.

girassol's avatar

Where I’m from, toddlers often play with their parents’ iPads. Here, children hardly climb trees or play outdoors (because there’s hardly any outdoors left). During my parents’ time, children played in rivers and on the streets, catching worms, flying kites with glass-coated strings and playing five stones. My own childhood consisted of catching ants, blowing bubbles in carparks, and crowding around the one computer in our house, watching my siblings play Jumpstart Grade 3.

When I look at kids these days, I feel somewhat envious of them, and rather sad. When I was young, I would have loved to play games on my own instead of watching my brother, but it’s painful to see these children absorbed in that screen throughout their childhood.

I joined Facebook when I was 18, and was paranoid about privacy for a long time. Kids these days don’t seem to have any qualms sharing information or photos online. It scares me. My younger sister joined when she was twelve, after much contemplation. She’s been pretty mature about her usage of social media.

cookieman's avatar

My daughter recently turned ten and received an iPhone from us. This was after two years with an iPod touch which she was very responsible with. Never lost or so much as scratched it. So we uograded her. I did, however, engage every parental control available, and I check it regularly. So far so good.

Social Media OTOH is off limits indefinitely. We’ll discuss it when there’s a “teen” in her age.

jordym84's avatar

Not that it’s any of my business, but what worried me the most is that the 2 little girls (I guessed them to be about 6 and 8), who happened to be sitting directly next to me, were editing and posting pictures of themselves in suggestive poses on Facebook and Instagram. It was about a 30-minute ride and that’s all they did the whole time. Every so often the mom would look up from her phone and say to her kids, husband and the friends traveling with them: “Omg did you see what so-and-so just posted on Facebook?” I was speechless. They reminded me a lot of the super rich, super brainless people from the “Real Housewives” shows you see on TV.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My youngest is 11 and he’s still too young for his own phone or Facebook as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know if he’ll ever get a phone from us. As for Facebook, he’s going to wait until he’s at least old enough per their policy. I hope he won’t want to even bother with it at that time.

AshLeigh's avatar

I didn’t have a phone until I was 14… I didn’t have an iPhone until a few months ago…

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

Call me old fashioned but 6–11 way too young. My daughter did not have full internet or cell phone privileges until the age of 14 and even then she did not have full privileges until she was almost 17. Of course that does not stop them. I blame the school. My daughters kindergarten teacher thought it would be a great “social” assignment for the children to trade phone numbers and call eachother once a week as homework, for the first 10 yrs of my daughters life she was hooked on the phone everyday to her best friend that she had met in that class.
Oh and also to this day my daughter insists that the teachers will not take assignments that are not typed and printed from the computer..ok anyone seen the price of ink lately lol, if we have ink in the printer it’s a good week!

Carinaponcho's avatar

I got a cell phone for emergency use only in sixth grade and made a Facebook account in seventh. My Facebook was regularly monitored by my parents at the time. The main reasons kids want these things for now is gaming. Parents just need to be careful about unrestricted Internet. The kids can be talking with strangers and accidentally reveal personal information.

Bellatrix's avatar

I bought my son his first phone when he started high school. I did so because I wanted him to be able to contact us should he miss his bus, be detained at school or for similar reasons. He didn’t abuse the trust. We bought a pre-paid so he didn’t have the capacity to run up a big bill anyway. We also had rules about texting and phone use when we were together and at night. It only became a problem when he was an older teen and would be texting his friends at night after he went to bed.

Facebook wasn’t about but earlier versions were when he was in his teens. I wouldn’t have let him have a social networking account aged 10. I think as long as their use of social media is monitored carefully it’s part of their social world and it’s better to instil sound judgement about its use early.

Seek's avatar

I have a four year old.

He has a Wii in the living room, a GameBoy Advance SP (the first model with a rechargeable battery, circa 1999 or so), and a desktop computer (without internet) in his bedroom. He also has his own DVD/VCR in his bedroom as well. All of this he operates without assistance.

Soon, I’m hoping to get him a tablet of his own, since he’s been really responsible with his computer, his GameBoy, and his Wii discs.

He asked me yesterday when he can have his own phone. I asked him who he would call. The answer was “Nobody”. In that case, love, you don’t need a phone. (Methinks he just wants one to play Angry Birds, because he doesn’t get much time on my smartphone.)

I’m not opposed to kids with tech. We live in a tech-based world, and I think it does them a disservice to force them to wait to start learning how to live with it. My son’s been playing computer games literally since before he could walk.

Does it bug me a little that he types better than he writes? Yeah, a bit. But you know what? So do I. I don’t remember the last time I actually sat down and wrote a letter. (I need to, I owe someone one, and I’m way past-due) And having awesome handwriting isn’t going to help him write a research paper. There are more important things.

Also, all the tech we live with hasn’t stopped us one bit as far as other skills. He climbs trees like an orangutan. We visit parks and run up hills and go camping. He plays outside with his friends. He can kick with either leg and loves soccer. He can bat from either side of the plate when he’s playing baseball (makes playing Wii baseball confusing for him, since you have to set your “arm” at first, and it doesn’t support switch hitters).

All in all, I don’t see the point in restricting kids from modern technology. I mean, I didn’t grow up churning my own butter just because my grandmother had to.

Of course, keep the kids safe from online predators, and follow the site’s rules for access. Facebook’s TOS says 13 years old in the US. That’s reasonable to me. More important even than that, is to teach your kids how to recognize phishing scams and predators, and what to do if they run into problems.

Shippy's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I’ve often wondered though, why kids just don’t go and play real tennis or real bowling whatever.

Seek's avatar

Access to facilities? Parents too busy to take them?

I played a LOT of video games as a kid, because my parents couldn’t be arsed to take us anywhere. There aren’t a whole lot of things to do when you’re too young to drive yourself somewhere.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@Shippy, I wonder the same thing. I always think about what if computers go down? What would some people do? How would many people survive, would they even know what to do? In my days I was not even allowed to bring a calculator into my math class, and if I was caught passing a note haha don’t think so, now my daughter texts me during class bacause it is allowed! And calculators are allowed. I have tried to pass those things I have learned onto my daughter, sure I used to play video games to, I am a child from the era of video games, come on Atari! I used to slap space invaders in the face! :p But there is nothing wrong with learning a bit of hard work.
So I did enroll my daughter in many after school activities just to make sure the message was received that PC’s are not our life I enrolled in basketball and air cadets those two alone were free and air cadets is an amazing opportunity, they teach disipline, leadership skills, exercise and survival, plus you get to learn how to fly a glider plane, she thought that was the coolest part. :)

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Apple, in their infinite genius based the width of the iPhone on the ability of one’s thumb to reach across comfortably.

Thumb can’t reach?

Maybe next year kid.

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