New research says 4 out of 10 kids are addicted to their cell phones, and up to 20% of third graders have them. It seems technology is evolving as fast as our kids are growing up, and it's making the job of parenting a lot more complicated.
"Does everyone want a phone?" I asked one student. "Yeah," says Sam Grove, a 4th grader at Tope Elementary School. "Do all the cool kids have a phone?" "Yeah," he enthusiastically replies. "They use them for games, calling their parents, and texting," says Davie Whiteside, another 4th grader. Whiteside doesn't have a cell phone, but his friends do. "He plays Harry Potter on his phone," says Whiteside, referring to one of his friends. Whiteside is getting a phone in 6th grade.
I asked another student, "do you know how to use those really fancy phones? "Uh-huh", says Ayla Rose, a 2nd grader. Rose is getting a phone in 5th grade. "I also know how to call 911", she says. Emily Whiteside is a 3rd grader; she doesn't have a phone yet, but her friends do. "Usually they have girly games, like princess games and stuff like that; or some of them are tomboys, and they have need for speed," says Whiteside.
This leads us to ask what do parents think? "I think it's too much responsibility for them," says Shirley Loomis, a grandparent. "I think cell phones are really good for the students to have," says Cheryl Black, a great-aunt. "I think they should have them in case of emergencies, I think that's a good idea," explains Peggy Fisher, a grandparent. "I think it depends a lot on the child, and it probably depends on the parent as well," says Jenny Mitchell, a parent.
However, while cell phones can be a good thing, they can also be distracting. A distraction and a barrier. Scott Aber with the Alpha Center says just like many things in life, cell phones can be addicting.
"You take a cell phone or you lose a cell phone, oh my gosh, it's withdrawals. I won't be able to talk to my friends! The world has come to an end, so that's an unhealthy attachment," explains Scott Aber, LPL, CAC III, a counselor at the Alpha Center in Grand Junction.
Each school in District 51 has its own policy regarding cell phones on campus. Officials tells us it depends on the school. It can be used for academic purposes, but can't be a distraction.