Phone Cancer Question Concerns Parents of Kids Part 2
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Hicks, whose book "Bringing Up Geeks: How to Protect Your
Kid's Childhood in a Grow-Up-Too-Fast World," is about just
such problems, has her own personal experience with
"My 10-year-old daughter thinks she's deprived," says Hicks.
"She's been saying she's the only one at school without a
phone, and it's actually getting to be true." And her son,
she says, was the only kid in his 8th-grade class without a
phone. (He just got one, right before freshman year in high
Hicks, who lives in East Lansing, Mich., is aware that some
parents feel cell phones are an essential security tool for
their kids. But, she says, "I always know where my kids are.
A cell phone is a tool to negotiate the world once you have
the responsibility to be out in the world on your own."
Morris, of Weston, Conn., has decided that for her own kids,
middle school is about the right time. "My boys are starting
to walk home alone sometimes," she says. "I want them to
have a phone." Being boys, though, they tend to forget the
darned things all the time _ especially in situations when
they actually need them.
So far, Morris has avoided giving one to her younger child,
she says, not an easy thing in a society where kids,
especially girls, are so sensitive to social pressures. "I
think a lot of parents in this country just give in," she
says. She's especially concerned about the rampant text
messaging among the younger set.
Statistics from the Pew Research Center show just how deeply
ingrained in our daily lives cell phones have become: Fully
78 percent of all adults own them, including 86 percent of
18-29 year-olds and 55 percent of Americans 65 and older.
Pew doesn't compile statistics on those under 18.
Text messaging, on the other hand, is the province of the
young: 74 percent of 18-29 year-olds do it but only 6
percent of the 65-plus crowd.
It's harder to gauge the tween set (usually defined as
between 9 and 13) but it's telling that in 2004, 21 percent
of those aged 8 to 10 and 36 percent of the 11 to 14 group
had phones, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation _ a
number sure to have ballooned since then.
Should the latest medical news cause huge concern among
parents who HAVE given in? "If you've got good reasons for
them to have it, I'd go ahead," says Frank Barnes, a
professor who chaired a recent report on the subject.
However, he added, "they've probably got other things they
should be doing."
As for whether it's a health hazard, Barnes, who teaches
electrical and computer engineering at the University of
Colorado at Boulder, said it's more a question of "How do
you deal with the unknown? We just don't have the data."
Ultimately, parents have to make their own rules _ but
that's difficult when the social pressure is so strong,
notes Lisa Bain, executive editor of Parenting magazine.
"The age is creeping down," she says. "Girls tend to get
them younger. It's become a status symbol _ it makes them
feel grown up."
Bain can see both sides of the argument. Parents really need
to set limits, she says, especially because so many phones
these days are also cameras and have Web access. On the
other hand, she said, the first time she dropped her
middle-school aged daughter off at the mall, "I thought,
thank God she has a cell phone."
Of the recent medical warning, Bain says: "So many scary
studies come out. This will give some parents second
thoughts, and other parents ammunition. But for the vast
majority, it's not going to mean a lot."
After all, says Bain, "It's like standing up against a tidal
Cell Phone Cancer Question Concerns
Parents of Kids Part 1
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