25/10/2005 - My 10 Year Old Wants a phone!
A couple of weeks ago, the Daily Telegraph answered a concerned mother's question about her 10 year old daughter owning a mobile phone, but despite being a parenting advice column, decided not to touch on any possible implication that this may impact on the child's health.
There was ample explanation that young children (and particularly girls) benefit from the opportunity of being able to talk at great length about nothing substantial with their friends. This benefit is undeniable, and it is of course always nice to know that your child is improving their social skills with their network of friends from school and elsewhere (though the bill payer may disagree). However, it is highly irresponsible when giving advice to other parents to completely disregard the official government advice that children under 16 year olds should not use a phone unless in emergencies. There is now ample evidence to suggest that adverse health effects cannot be ruled out, and that any effects are likely to be significantly worse in growing children.
As mentioned in the Telegraph article, the previous generation communicated with friends at just as great lengths, but did so using "conventional" land-line wired phones. Most people still have land-lines, and for most the option of installing a second line (if you don't want your own phone permanently engaged) is available from their phone supplier. Until they are old enough to take full responsibility for their own decisions, we recommend that children of this generation use standard wired phones.
- Actual Department of Health Advice (see section "Children and young people under 16")
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