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20 September 2006



Did you find that out before or after you sent one back Tom?!

Stephen Waddington

I've got two daughters at primary school who are both wanting mobile phones because their mates all have them.

It is a nightmare issue for a parent. As a means of emergency communication they are all well and good, but giving a 10 year old, or younger (lots of my 8 year daughters mates have mobiles) is effectively handing them a totally unmonitored and unsolicited open communication channel to the outside world, and is a significant leap from the innocence of note passing.

You’re far too dismissive of the issue of childhood depression. It is a very real issue. Ask any parent, school governor or headteacher. Mobile phones create a new social tier of communication amongst kids and can be used to manipulate and bully.

Final point, teachers absolutely detest mobiles because they are so disruptive to the classroom.

Mike King

Anything that can be used to enable bullying is obviously a cause for serious concern, but from recollection of my own school days (in the dark ages, obviously), the lack of mobile phones didn’t result in a lack of bullying. It is an unfortunate fact of growing up that some kids bully others. It happens in the playground, in the street and pretty much anywhere kids are mixing with others. At least when armed with a mobile phone kids are able to call for help when they need it.

Although my three daughters are older (14, 17 and 18) to my mind the benefits of them having mobile phones (which they've had for almost as long as I can remember) have always far outweighed the negatives. Simply being able to contact them at any time to find out what they are up to is priceless for any parent.

Alcohol, on the other hand...


Mobile phones are no more disruptive to the classroom than passing notes, making paper aeroplanes or giggling about the teacher's jacket. Punishment for any of these things in my day resulted in detention, or being sent to the Headteacher - what's the problem with issuing the same punishment for mobile use?

Childhood depression and bully are certainly real issues, and text-message bullying is undoubtedly a real downside of children owning mobiles. But it can still be reported, and if there's a text message, then there's some hard evidence to support the child's claims, which often isn't the case with bullying. On the other hand, the report I referred to suggests that parents that don't get their kids a mobile risk alienating them from their peers - something likely to make them equally unhappy.

Yes, it's an unmonitored communications channel. But it's by no means the only unmonitored communications channel that children have - and a dubious individual sending your child a text message is surely not as bad as said individual approaching them in person on their way home from school. There are positives and negatives about the issue for sure, but to a large extent it's irrelevant, as mobile use in this age bracket is set to continue growing. The best thing to do is make sure children are alert and aware of the potential dangers.

Stephen Waddington

I agree how that parents that don’t get their child a phone risk alienating them, but at 7 or 8 years old? I’d rather encourage them to socialise with their mates face to face. Which begs the question, what’s the right age to give a child a mobile phone?

Mobile phones are more disruptive than passing notes or making paper aeroplanes purely because it is easier to get away with. Honestly, ask yourself how many times did you actually pass notes or make paper planes in school. Me? Not once because you always got caught. Mobile phones are more discreet but kids inevitably forget to switch them onto silent and texts pinging back and forth disrupt lessons. Ask any high school teacher/school governor about this issue.

Again I think the ease of use is another reason why mobile phones contribute to bullying. There is less of an effort to text someone than it is to run over and punch them in the arm or call them names. As a bloke, think about it from our perspective, I’d much rather text my friends in order to organise a jaunt to the local because I can’t be bothered talking to them – it’s just easier to text. Texting is a pseudo mask – yes it is hard evidence of bullying but those sending it are more likely to see it as not as serious because there is no personal contact.

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