Younger students are getting cell phones

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – There are several items on your children’s back-to-school lists that are the same as when you went to school: backpacks, lunchboxes, notebooks, and other supplies. But more and more students are carrying something else these days: a cell phone.

As many families settle into carpool schedules and extracurricular routines over the next few weeks, the topic of a student’s first cell phone may come up. For a lot of parents it’s a matter of safety and convenience, but how young is too young?

“No she’s way too young. She’s 7. I don’t want her to have a cell phone. You don’t know who they’re talking to, who they’ve found on the internet. They’re vulnerable. They think they have a friend but they don’t. She has no fear,” said Deanna Soja from Chicopee.

In a National Consumer League study from 2012 60% of parents gave their child their first cell phone at age 10 or 11. Since then, just two years time, the age has gone down and the prevalence of phones among teens and pre-teens has doubled.

One Chicopee parent told 22News phones provide more safety in some ways, but also pose some threats.

“Inappropriate conversations on cell phones because you can do it without anyone seeing what you’re doing. It’s taking away from personal conversations. I limit my children’s cell phone time to make sure they’re talking to me and not the cell phone,” said Marcella Uszynski.

22News is working for you with ways to make the conversation a little easier. Consider a rule that requires phones to be charged at night in a common area, like the kitchen.

Be clear about expectations as far as data limits and privacy. And talk to your child about cyber-bullying; discourage them from typing something they wouldn’t say in person.

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