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Texting Toddlers, How Young is Too Young? 286

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the combine-with-powerwheels-for-ultimate-satisfaction dept.
theodp writes "Toddlers don't need to be texting, concedes the NYT's Lisa Belkin, but since they have always had toy typewriters and toy telephones, why not toy Blackberrys? If your little tyke is itching to text, the NYT has a round-up of texting devices aimed at children as young as three who want to talk with their thumbs. The question of, 'when is a child is old enough for their own cell phone' has been replaced with the question of, 'what type of texting gadget is appropriate for which age group.' But don't forget to lay down the law: 'Our 13-year-old got a phone with an unlimited plan as a reward for good grades,' says HiTechMommy.com blogger Cat Schwartz. 'Each night he is required to turn the phone in at 10 p.m. and then gets it back first thing in the morning.'"
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Texting Toddlers, How Young is Too Young?

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  • by Locdonan (804414) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:41PM (#29263417) Homepage Journal
    Turning it in and then getting it back the next day? Responsible Parenting? Lies! With no kids myself, I can only offer tech to my 3 nieces as their parents see fit. I think teens is a good age, but as always, it depends on when the child can show responsible behavior. Many College students in my town are not responsible enough to own phones.
    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:45PM (#29263483) Journal

      In most cases kids quickly lose interest. "I want I want I want" quickly becomes "I'm bored" as the novelty wears off and the phone disappears into a drawer.

      I was discussing this with my boss a little while ago, and he said his kids destroy half the stuff he buys for them, and that when we were growing-up we appreciated things more. And I replied, "That's because we didn't have anything. I had one record player and I treasured it like it was gold." He laughed and conceded the same was true for him.

      • by PainKilleR-CE (597083) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:15PM (#29263919)

        Looking at how my daughter handles things vs. how my youngest brother-in-law (a teenager) handles things, or even how I believe I handled things as a kid, I think most of it comes down to teaching a kid to treasure the things they have. My brother-in-law breaks or loses something, and he ends up with a new one that's better than what he had before. He's almost better off breaking stuff than taking care of it. My daughter asks for something, if it's of any significant cost and/or value, it could be a while before she gets it, and she may have to give something up for it. If she breaks it, it could be a long while before she sees a replacement. She seems to value things much better than her uncle, and she's 12 years younger than he is.

        On the other hand, there are some people, like my wife, that simply don't value physical things. In a lot of ways, it's a gift, because she doesn't miss it when it's gone, and she doesn't really want much. In other ways, though, not valuing something means not caring enough to think about the way things should be treated, and generally putting more value in what she can get for something than in what she paid for it, or would have to pay to replace it.

      • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:20PM (#29263989)

        In most cases kids quickly lose interest. "I want I want I want" quickly becomes "I'm bored" as the novelty wears off and the phone disappears into a drawer.

        I was discussing this with my boss a little while ago, and he said his kids destroy half the stuff he buys for them, and that when we were growing-up we appreciated things more. And I replied, "That's because we didn't have anything. I had one record player and I treasured it like it was gold." He laughed and conceded the same was true for him.

        What is given freely is not valued. Your girlfriend's virginity, worthless if given, of value only if taken!

        Broken Aesops and kidding aside, there's so much to be said for teaching kids the value of something they've earned for themselves. Even if you end up helping to subsidize the purchase, the 10% of the price they put into it could well be the birthday and grandma money they saved up all year. It counts for something. I know I liked my first computer which was a family machine but I loved my second one which was the result of three years worth of xmas and bday funds and subsequent upgrades were paid for with the proceeds of my first job.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        While I agree that kids have too many things today compared to when I was a kid and thus don't value them as much, I also know this...

        The toys I had back then were metal (go Tonka and Matchbox) and tough plastic (go Legos). I could slam my large steel wrecking ball into the Lego houses I made and not worry about anything breaking (as long as I missed the plastic windows and garage doors which were a bit fragile). I took care of the rest of my toys. It was a big deal to get a 50c Matchbox car.

        My parents grew

    • by noundi (1044080) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:48PM (#29263533)
      These things are always ridiculous. Kids, just as adults, aren't all equally responsible. If you teach your kid how responsibility rewards itself with extended freedom there's no need to yank the phone after dark. If you want to check to make sure your child isn't abusing his freedom you can ask for a detailed bill and check the hours, and if he has been abusing his freedom you can then yank the phone until he has proven to be responsible enough, given that you have enough patience. If you don't then probably you shouldn't be a parent in the first place.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        You hit the nail on the head.

        It's not enough to just set arbitrary rules and tell the kid, "You're punished." You also have to teach WHY they are being punished. When my niece carelessly knocked-over my Gamecube I asked her point-blank, "Did you do that?" "Yes." "Ya know if you break somebody else's property, you have to buy them a new one." "Oh. I'm sorry." So far the thing still works but if it ceases to work, yes I'm going to subtract $25 from her piggyback so I can get a replacement. Just like I

        • by noundi (1044080)
          I agree. Shielding your child from reality makes them unprepared for it. By doing so you're doing your child absolutely no favor. They rely on you to teach them the world and how to get by in it. Of course I'm not saying you should teach your kids how to declare taxes at the age of 8, but as soon as you know they'd understand it you should. The same goes with sex ed, cooking, budgeting, etc. Even the horrors in life should be taught to them. If they know about the horrors and how to handle them there's a ch
      • by Jurily (900488)

        If you want to check to make sure your child isn't abusing his freedom you can ask for a detailed bill and check the hours, and if he has been abusing his freedom you can then yank the phone until he has proven to be responsible enough, given that you have enough patience.

        That's waaay too complicated. Prepay. He used it up, he won't send another one till the end of the month.

        If you give them an unlimited resource, it's not abuse if they use it without limits.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by noundi (1044080)

          If you want to check to make sure your child isn't abusing his freedom you can ask for a detailed bill and check the hours, and if he has been abusing his freedom you can then yank the phone until he has proven to be responsible enough, given that you have enough patience.

          That's waaay too complicated. Prepay. He used it up, he won't send another one till the end of the month.

          If you give them an unlimited resource, it's not abuse if they use it without limits.

          It seems that the problem isn't only about budget, it's also about sleeping. Even if you limit the credits your child will still be able to stay awake at night texting to friends. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to proper parenting.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            It seems that the problem isn't only about budget, it's also about sleeping. Even if you limit the credits your child will still be able to stay awake at night texting to friends. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to proper parenting.

            I stayed up well into the night, not texting (I'm slightly too old, it was a bit too expensive to "chat" by text) but reading. Mostly Discworld books.

            My parents obviously didn't think I should be reading until 2am, but if the book was good then I'd use a torch under the covers. This probably contributed to my myopia.

            (Thinking about it, there was no phone signal in my room. That would be the main reason I couldn't use my phone at night...)

            • by Whorhay (1319089)

              I specifically remember wanting my own phone for awhile as a kid. I'm not sure what for though really. As I didn't have anyone that I would have wanted to talk to for extended periods or anything.

              I got a bedside lamp on a scissor style extension arm at some point when I was around 12. I was able to use this in a clever way to stay up and read all night. Before I was unable to do this because most light sources would throw light onto the trees outside my window, which my father could see from his window. The

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by citylivin (1250770)

        "... given that you have enough patience. If you don't then probably you shouldn't be a parent in the first place."

        Luckily, no one gets to "choose" who becomes a parent "in the first place". Everyone's different, and I happen to have very low patience for irresponsibility. I would NEVER buy my kid a cel phone. I would question whether or not you even have kids if you think that a cel phone in the hands of a 3-16 year old would not be abused.

        Kids dont need cel phones. The only people who think they do are o

        • No one need sanything bud Food and Shelter, right? Give 'em a nice cave and a side of beef and you're godo to go!

          Snarky aside, While they might not "need" them to survive, they can be rather important to kids. School is a giant popularity contest for kids. Because fo this, they often do need objects like cell phones to compete. Does this mean unrestricted and supervised use? No of course not.
        • by Whorhay (1319089)
          That's a battle I hope to avoid entirely. In another ten years cell phones will probably have become so common place that I'd be considered a throwback if each of my children didn't have one. For now though I would like a child of mine to have a cell phone to use in an emergency. My wife wants essentially the same but her idea of what would be suitable and unlikely to be abused in the way of prepaid minutes is quit different from mine.
        • by plague3106 (71849)

          So... is it irresponsible to post an angry rant about CELL (notice the two Ls) phones?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Belial6 (794905)
          Kids don't need cell phones? They don't "need" music either. Or, toy cars, or dolls, or a sprinkler to run in. Just because cell phones became popularized after 1980 does not make them some inherent evil that must be carefully controlled to prevent it's diabolical spread. A cell phone is a tool or a toy. They are are less expensive than a video game. Heck, they verge on the price of coloring books, which means that even if they are abused, so what. Of course, at 5, my son is perfectly capable of hand
    • People Still Text? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobotRunAmok (595286)

      Texting was that tiny spot on the personal digital communications timeline between "Cell Phones Become Prevalent" and "Smartphones with E-Mail Become Prevalent." And I guess I can't really say that "smartphones have become prevalent," beyond the anecdotal "everyone I know uses a smartphone now and just e-mails from it (at no extra charge)." So, yeah, give kids the ability to text, I guess. Give 'em all an abacus and a CueCat while you're add it, too.

      • by Imagix (695350)
        Hardly a tiny spot. It's still going strong. And every smartphone I've used has had bad characteristics. Mostly in battery life, the rest being network traffic charges. I want my phone to last over a week between charges (my current phone does), not a day (my previous smartphone).
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Actually no. teens is NOT a good age. Because teens cant separate themselves from their asshole friends. My daughter got her first cellphone at 12. at 13 I disabled all texting capabilities and made her leave the phone off when on vacation. Friends call up and make the child upset with silly crap. Girls will pull the stupidest mean things on each other.... go to Disney for 2 weeks and 4 days in she get's a text that her Boyfriend is dumping her for someone else because she is not around.

      teens are far to

  • 0 Years of age (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Karganeth (1017580) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:42PM (#29263439)
    There is no one too young to benefit from the use of mobiles. Though, obviously, all the old folk will claim it'll ruin their childhood. It will not ruin it. Just because it's different does not mean its bad.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Zero years? What on earth would someone who doesn't know how to talk, let alone read or write, need a cell phone for? No kid needs a cell phone until he or she is old enough to take a bus without supervision. If (s)he wants to talk to grandma (s)he can use your phone.

      Come back when you have kids of your own.

      • Zero years? What on earth would someone who doesn't know how to talk, let alone read or write, need a cell phone for?

        To help that person learn to read, write and talk.

        No kid needs a cell phone until he or she is old enough to take a bus without supervision. If (s)he wants to talk to grandma (s)he can use your phone.

        ? I don't think anyone is claiming that a mobile is necessary. It's just very useful. It would be more convinient for the child to use his own phone.

        Come back when you have kids of your own.

        It's got nothing to do with having children. The parent is not the one using the mobile. Don't twist it around so that its about the parent.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          To help that person learn to read, write and talk.

          A cell phone is NOT going to help a baby read, write, and talk. S/he needs to see faces and hear the words clearly to learn to talk, and your reading Dr. Suess to him, instilling a love of books, is how to get him to read.

          It's got nothing to do with having children

          He said he didn't have kids. That's like someone without a driver's license trying to tell me how to drive.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Dragonslicer (991472)

          Zero years? What on earth would someone who doesn't know how to talk, let alone read or write, need a cell phone for?

          To help that person learn to read, write and talk.

          If a kid is learning to read and write with text messages, you might as well just start them right off with "would you like fries with that?"

      • by alen (225700)

        my son is almost 2 and loves playing with my iphone. there are a ton of kids educational apps in the app store and he loves swiping his finger and seeing the screen move. i try to give him my blackberry as well, but he hates it. i even call it the boring phone.

        parents i talk to who have kids in first grade say that it's expected now that kids know how to read when they go to school. with computers and game consoles everywhere, kids can probably learn to read by 4

  • OK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:43PM (#29263461)

    So whatever happen to just let the kid go outside and play. I'm all for introducing kids to technologies and educating them but this is a little to much. IMO this is just a way to train your kids not to be sociable when they are adults. It seems that more and more of the younger generation are losing their ability to to really converse face to face.

    • Cool. Toys imitating life are bad for children. Let's get rid of toy phones, toy cars, toy guns, toy swords, toy houses, to people wearing toy fashions and everything else. Toys are designed to imitate grownup life in an approachable and safe way. Children always want to do grownup things, it's how they learn and it's nothing new. Technology changes and thus the toys that imitate it change. This is absolutely nothing to be concerned about. On top of that, if one more person hears "Facebook" or "cell phone
      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        To be honest, my kids don't have toy guns. Guns are not for playing with, in any way shape or form. If they want to, they ask daddy to go to the rifle range or skeet/trap club, and we all have fun with guns....

    • Re:OK (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:56PM (#29263649) Homepage
      But if we encourage them to go outside, they'll end up on your lawn, and then where will you be?

      Texting is a key component to being sociable these days among young people. Social skills are developed and used through texting just as they were over the phone in our generation and over at the soda fountain or wherever the hell they went in our grandparents' generation. The old ways may be best for us because it's what we're used to, but expecting the kids today to socialize in the same way we did is just as silly as our grandparents expecting us to follow some elaborate courtship ritual involving handkerchiefs and whatnot like they did.

      As long as the kids are only permitted to text certain trusted people (close family members, for example) and have limits set on their time, just like we had limits set on our phone time, I don't see any issue.
  • I guess if you're OK trading off spelling and penmanship for early development of skills that they'll learn soon enough anyway, then sure. Get your toddler a Leapberry, or whatever-yacallit. (I did rtfa, but my retention is poor. I started using a web browser at an early age.)

    Just don't blame anybody else when they start running around speaking in acronymese like "ell-oh-ell" and "eff-oh-ay-dee," and their handwriting looks worse than your physician's.

    • I guess if you're OK trading off spelling and penmanship for early development of skills that they'll learn soon enough anyway, then sure.

      Spelling is a matter of expectations, not medium.

      And having great penmanship isn't exactly critical for success in the modern world; I got an early start on tech skills and have always had fairly poor penmanship. I wouldn't trade even the tiniest bit of the comfort and proficiency with technology for better penmanship.

    • by selven (1556643)
      Wait, people still pronounce lol as an acronym?
  • by drunken_boxer777 (985820) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:49PM (#29263537)

    This sounds like a load of trouble to me. I will certainly teach my children to spell and write properly before allowing them to own any texting-enabled device. Imagine a generation of people who learned texting before proper spelling and grammar. The horrors!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lbalbalba (526209)
      Well that's just 'natural evolution' of the language. Language is not something that is fixed in stone for all etermity, rather, it is a continuously changing entity.
      • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:02PM (#29263735)

        Well that's just 'natural evolution' of the language. Language is not something that is fixed in stone for all etermity, rather, it is a continuously changing entity.

        That's traditionally due to poor literacy rates and it's not a good thing. Linguistic drift is the reason much of the written works of the English language are opaque to most current English speakers. I want people in 300 years to be able to easily and intuitively understand my papers. I don't want them having to do a running translation of "too" to "2" and so forth.

        • Are you actually writing on paper, or typing on a computer? The former will need translation in 300 years, but the latter will be lost forever by then.
        • by Dog-Cow (21281)

          Language is for communication. When most of the world is illiterate, that's just how things will remain. It's not good or bad because it really doesn't matter to language at all.

          Don't confuse what you don't like with something being "bad".

        • I have to call BS on this.... In 300 years there isn't a chance that anything you write will make much sense. Shakespeare died right about 400 years ago. Here is a sample of that in Romeo and Juliet (without modernization) Quarto 1 from 1597.

          The Prologue. 0.2 Tvvo houshold Frends alike in dignitie,
          0.3 (In faire Verona, where we lay our Scene)
          0.4 From ciuill broyles broke into enmitie,
          0.5 VVhose ciuill warre makes ciuill hands vncleane.
          0.6 From forth the fatall loynes of these two foes,
          0.7 A paire o
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      When my youngest was in kindergarten, the stupid school district came up with having the pre-readers write diaries, with what they called "invented spelling".

      She still can't spell. Thanks, "educators".

      • I actually don't think that there's anything wrong with the district plan. There's definitely a place for allowing kids to express themselves without being overloaded with corrections. If kids are encouraged to read and continue to write, they'll learn how to spell.

        My parents read to me every day when I was a baby, and so I could read pretty well before kindergarten. But I'm sure my written grammar and spelling skills had not progressed to their current state. I am equally certain that everything I w
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          She is musical and artistic, but so am I. I was afraid when thay started that, that it would have kids not know how to spell. They quietly dropped that program a few years later, and I'm sure the spelling problems the kids had contributed to it.

          My parents read to me every day, and my grandmother thought I knew how to read, when actually I'd just had the books read to me so many times I knew them by heart and knew when to turn the pages. I couldn't read going into the 1st grade, but by the 2nd I was reading

        • My parents did the same thing, and I took to it like a fish to water. By the time I was in kindergarten I was reading the same books my sister was, and she is 6 years older than I am. Always been able to spell pretty well, phonetics filling in gaps where I didn't know the words offhand, but grammar was one of those things that confounded me frequently.

          I've also noticed that I seem to think in "words" more than most people I know...I have trouble with visual thinking (like distances and directions all s
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jellomizer (103300)

        Nothing turns a kid off to reading and writing like a bunch of teachers who red mark all your work. While the person next to you gets a gold star. In kindergarden they usually just cover the alphabet and writing letters. The Invented Spelling at least gets them in the mind set that writing is a fun activity. Later on you can more quietly work on the issues and teach them the rules for spelling.

      • When my youngest was in kindergarten, the stupid school district came up with having the pre-readers write diaries, with what they called "invented spelling".

        She still can't spell. Thanks, "educators".

        Oh, goodness, they had that when I was a kid. The idea was the kid wrote what they wanted, enjoyed writing, etc. and the teacher's responses used correct grammar and spelling so the student could compare and contrast the two.

        In reality, it didn't work like that. The less ethical teachers used it to collect gossip (small town), the less clever teachers made mistakes of their own*, and because no one told the students WHY "I ain't got none" is wrong and "I don't have any" is right, the kids never learned.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Every ten years or so some goofs decide to argue that words should be spelled like they sound. My response is, is it a chimney or a chimbley? It it a car, a cowar, or cah? Spelling and punctuation make writing more comprehensible than verbal communication. Someone illustrated this here a week ago with "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse". Is the ewe with you?

          The trouble with our school system (at least public schools) is that our kids are being taught by educated but illiterate morons.

    • by PPH (736903)
      You must be new to Slashdot.
    • Why not teach them to text using proper spelling and grammar then?
      Texting doesn't have to involve poor skills.
      I have a QWERTY keyboard on my phone, and I rarely abbreviate.
  • Depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d-r0ck (1365765) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:51PM (#29263569)

    When they are old enough to buy their own texting device and pay their own bills then I'll let my kids text.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Facegarden (967477)

      When they are old enough to buy their own texting device and pay their own bills then I'll let my kids text.

      While I agree with the sentiment (that's what I did - got a job at 15 and paid for my own cell), you're forgetting how important communication is to kids these days. In most states you can't legally work till you're 15 or so, and that's really old to just be getting a cell. It may be hard to accept, but kids are getting phones much earlier now, and although toddler might be too young, 10 or 12 probably isn't. Making your kid wait till they're 15 or 16 means making them miss out on socializing with their fr

      • At risk of being a "social outcast"? Like some geek who hangs out on Slashdot?

        How foolish of me to deny my son a phone while letting him play outside with his friends. Instead of spending that time together they could be busily texting each other about what they might have been doing.

        Or worse, be like some idiot adults who have so little social skills that they spend most of their time with Person A ignoring them, and texting Person B. Only to reverse it later.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Facegarden (967477)

          At risk of being a "social outcast"? Like some geek who hangs out on Slashdot?

          How foolish of me to deny my son a phone while letting him play outside with his friends. Instead of spending that time together they could be busily texting each other about what they might have been doing.

          Or worse, be like some idiot adults who have so little social skills that they spend most of their time with Person A ignoring them, and texting Person B. Only to reverse it later.

          You seriously misunderstand the development of the social scene, and how tech relates to it. While i agree that kids should not just sit inside and text about what they could be doing, that's not normally what they do - that's just FUD meant to prove your point. Although some kids might do that, you can still encourage them to go out just as any parent would do in generations past when a kid was too hooked on TV. The point is that kids communicate a LOT now, and while they can still go out and hang out with

          • You may misunderstand how little I care about "the development of the social scene". For starters, I'm not that much older than you (based on your previous comments about your age in the 1980s).

            Would I have been more "popular" or "accepted" if my parents bought me a car in high school? Perhaps. The same is also true if they allowed me to go on spring break vacations. Or get plastic surgery. Or held booze parties. Or any of a number of things some of my peers did.

            A kid who runs around being influenced
          • by xaxa (988988)

            In about 2000, I felt *really* left out because all my friends got phones (the price crashed in the UK in about 1998) but my parents didn't let me have one. I was allowed to use the "family phone" if I "needed" it, i.e. if my mum wanted to be able to contact me, but I didn't have my own phone until I went to university (and was given the family one, so I couldn't avoid my mum calling).

            I was left out at school because a friend would text 6 friends "hey, we're going to the cinema" or something, and I'd never

    • Re:Depends (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kthejoker (931838) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:42PM (#29264359)

      In the swankier part of town, I saw some kid (16 tops) drive into the Target parking lot yesterday in a Z3. That car is as good as wrecked, my friends, because there is no way that kid treats that car with the same respect that some single mom does her 1993 Taurus that is her only means of transportation and thus survival.

      Lord knows if I had enough income/cash to buy a Z3 my 16 year old kid would still be getting the beater with his own job money.

      • It could be that the Z3 DOES mean much less to that kid and his family than the '93 tarus does to the single mom.

        On a side note, I've seen many single mothers treat thier only mode of transportation like crap and I've known kids that treat thier cars with respect & care.
    • by Eil (82413)

      One of my biggest fears as a relatively new father is that teenage cell phone use is going to be so prevalent by the time she's 13, all the other parents are going to think she's neglected or deprived because she doesn't have a cell phone strapped to her face all the time.

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:58PM (#29263675) Journal

    If they're going to drool into the keys and ruin it, they're too young.

    If they're going to type at me all day, they're too young.

    If they're going to type at their father all day instead of me, not only are they not too young, I fully expect a call saying "Dad? Remember when you first got that Apple II and were learning to program, and I kept trying to help you? I just wanted to say I'm sorry." THEN if I get that phone call, and they keep pestering him, they're too young. But I'll still laugh. In fact, I may go buy it. They got any with drool proof keys?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ChefInnocent (667809)

      If they're going to drool into the keys and ruin it, they're too young.

      If they're going to type at me all day, they're too young.

      I'm sorry grandpa; you're just too young to have a cellphone. You keep drooling on it, and you won't stop texting me about Matlock.

  • by fermion (181285) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:01PM (#29263711) Homepage Journal
    I see many kids with cell phones not because they are old enough to text their friends, but because the parent don't think they are old enough to be on their own. Kids today don't get any alone time. They are at their parents beck and call. When I was growing up, I ran out of the house to play in the morning and did not return until the street lights came on. There was nothing to get me back home, or to micromanage my day. I was on my on to play and create. Now kids have an hourly reminder of where one is to be,and need to check in frequently from school. What is the point. No wonder we have kids graduating from college with no job prospects. They never learned to manage their own time, or complete a task on their own inititative.
  • When I was in 5th grade and discovered girls, was about the same time I discovered instant messaging on AOL (back then it was v. 2.5, which only supported plain text - get off my lawn!) and got along just fine. I always wished I had a handheld IM client/device I could use while in front of the TV - with unlimited SMS that's basically what a cell phone is, and the iPhone even displays sms messages in a chat format. Age 11 might be a little late to be introducing your kid to instant messaging/sms (is there re

  • I'll start by saying that I genreally despise texting. It is too expensive and too time consuming for my life, and it is extremely distracting. However, there is something that toddlers with cell phones could be good for.

    The US currently has a dismal literacy rate amongst children entering kindergarten. I don't know when or how it happened, but a significant portion of children in this country today enter kindergarten without even a basic understanding of the alphabet, yet alone any ability to read or write. In comparison I and every child in my kindergarten class (so many years ago) were all able to read at least Dr. Susus books.

    So if giving cell phones to kids gets them reading sooner, then I guess it isn't all bad.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      We didn't have kindergarten when I started school, and in the 1st grade I was the only one in class who knew the alphabet and how to tell time (clocks were analog back then).

      Now they're starting preschool at age 3 (both my daughters did), and I don't consider it a good thing at all. The one thing schools seem to teach best is to hate learning.

      I don't text, even though its free (Boost Mobile). Well, once in a while I'll text "call me" to one of my daughters.

    • Dr. Susus books.

      Not sure who Dr. Susus is. It appears my fingers betrayed me, that should have been Dr Seuss.

  • in MY day! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:15PM (#29263921)

    In my day, if we wanted to send a text message to a friend, we used an instant messenger! Or we even wrote out an email. It took time to sit down and put some thought into composing that message. None of this Twitter Trotter Twatter flim-flarn-flith. We had more than 140 characters to work with and could take the time to say something that was worth taking the time to say! And we sat at a keyboard. With a chair. Typed with our fingers instead of with our thumbs like savages.

    If the little ankle-biters offer you any lip, send 'em to their rooms with nothing but bread, water, and 56k dial-up.

    • You were lucky to have instant messenger. Back in my day, we were typing on our hand-me down PCs, logged onto Prodigy and waited minutes for typed responses on a bulletin board to return, day in, day out. We praised the day we got our 33.6 modem and signed on to Compuserve.

      In case for the humor impaired, I'm riffing on the Four Yorkshiremen [youtube.com] sketch.
      • by sorak (246725)

        You were lucky to have instant messenger. Back in my day, we were typing on our hand-me down PCs, logged onto Prodigy and waited minutes for typed responses on a bulletin board to return, day in, day out. We praised the day we got our 33.6 modem and signed on to Compuserve.

        In case for the humor impaired, I'm riffing on the Four Yorkshiremen [youtube.com] sketch.

        Back in my day, we had that joke. We couldn't use it to communicate or learn anything new. We just repeated it over and over, in hopes it would ease the mind-numbing boredom...Ah, those were the days.

    • by sxmjmae (809464)
      I was amazed when I used UUCP to send 'e-mail' to people I knew instantly any where in the world! Before that it was public BBS! Before that it was smoke singles!
  • Off the cuff, because I'm too lazy to track down any citations, there's some evidence and theory gaining traction that we speak with an accent as well as think with an accent. The window for learning one's mother tongue may be coeval with the window for acquiring our social values and thus our prejudices. Young brains seem to abstract a subset of rules for speech, and, possibly for social values and manners of thought, from a universal set of rules, or, perhaps from a universal potential limited only by phy
  • by scratchpaper (1175477) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:40PM (#29264335)
    The day my toddler texts me from the other room to tell me he wants some "gam cackers n apple joose" is the day I climb the clocktower.
  • The problem is that current ideas will not be the status quo when kids get to be a little older. The more we cram ideas of today into kids heads, the more they seem ... well, "un-absurd" to them.

    Texting is stupid. Thumb typing is stupid. Tiny little plastic dohickies with tiny screens and keyboards are stupid. Making them seem normal to children so they can grow up to accept this silliness is good for industry, but not good for the future.

    Kids need exposure to these technologies so that they can form ot

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:14PM (#29264865) Homepage
    It's not the technology that's the problem. As with anything it's lazy parenting and the technology being used to replace something a parent should be doing. With proper parenting, a child learning how to text will have a head start over his friends and not being a spoiled little twat.
    • by tthomas48 (180798)

      Still has nothing to do with parenting. It has to do with brain development. Kids brains are learning very distinct things at very distinct phases. Training them to text is just training them to be parrots (I'm probably insulting parrots in this post.). Kids can't read in an intelligent fashion (i.e. parsing pieces of words to form wholes, acquisition of new words though context) until they're about six. Exactly what kind of texting are they going to be doing? This has nothing to do with learning technolog

  • Misleading summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plumby (179557) on Monday August 31, 2009 @05:35PM (#29266859)

    If you RTFA, there are no "texting devices aimed at children as young as three ". The device aimed at 3 year olds is a toy with spelling games that's designed to look like a Blackberry. My daughter has had toy phones, including toy mobiles, since she was was one (and I'm pretty sure I had a pull-along phone when I was a toddler). Don't really see how this is greatly different from that.

    Kids these days are surrounded by technology - my daughter's now 3 and would much rather sit and play on the CBeebies (BBC kids channel) website than watch CBeebies on the TV. If used (and supervised) properly, tech can be great for education as well as being fun.

  • Great Story (Score:3, Informative)

    by ryanisflyboy (202507) * on Monday August 31, 2009 @07:30PM (#29268031) Homepage Journal

    This lead me to the Peek, which I hadn't looked at in some time. $20 for the device, and then $20/month. I picked one up for my 6 year old. There is a lot not to like, but I'll focus on why I got it:

    Why the Peek?
    * E-mail/text only (no phone, games, web, etc).
    * Fairly durable device, good value.
    * No long term contract.

    What do I expect my 6yo to do with this?
    * Communicate more frequently with those he loves in a non-intrusive way.
    * Update his blog. You can argue that one. For my 6yo it has been a great thing.

    What do I expect to get out of it?
    * Teach responsible use of technology (what you post is sticky).
    * Give him a fun opportunity to use his increasing language and reading skills.
    * http://www.peekmaps.com/ [peekmaps.com] - just because I've learned to be paranoid.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Monday August 31, 2009 @10:08PM (#29269205)

    I'm a father of a two year old. I think my brain experienced some kind of segfault when I read this. What is a two (or even three) year old going to say in a text message?

    I don't see anything inherently wrong with exposure to technology at a young age. But I think the world (at least among first world countries) is already so saturated with technology that it's hardly necessary to go deliberately pushing it in kid's faces. I'd have to go out of my way to make my son interested in a cell phone. He's far too obsessed with other things, like a stick lying on the ground, or a butterfly flying across his face, or jumping up in down while rotating in a circle until he gets so dizzy he falls over in hysterics.

    Compare those experiences with -- what -- sitting in a chair zoning into a tiny little screen? There will be time for that later. Right now, it seems far more important that he learn a few basic facts. Like, I don't know, the basic physical nature of reality. The fundamental rules of social interaction with other children and adults. The way the grass feels on your skin as you roll down a hill.

    I don't forbid the child to play with a piece of technology. He just isn't interested in it. Every child is different, but I have to wonder if some parents are deliberately pushing technology on their kids when they'd much rather be doing something else. The world is a big, complex, and rich place. Technology has a way of latching into our minds and compelling us to sit for hours zoning into a screen. I'd rather delay that until later, and does that really make me a bad parent or a Luddite?

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