Mobile Phones: When are they useful for Children?
As we approach Christmas, many parents will be toying with the idea of buying their children a mobile phone. This is generally considered to be a difficult decision as on the one hand parents want their children to remain safe and be able to keep in touch, but on the other, having a phone gives children access to information that could be potentially damaging and even makes them a target for thieves.
Despite strong arguments against the possession of mobile phones by children, one of which will surely include the protest that there was no communication of the sort in ‘our day’, there is a building case for giving a child the ability to speak to someone or report an injustice when they are too scared to do this face to face.
Perhaps the first factor to consider is when the child would require a mobile phone. If they are too young to be out unaccompanied then the necessity for a phone is very minor, however, if they are old enough to take themselves to and from school, or responsible for collecting a younger sibling, there is a strong case for providing a phone so that the child can inform a parent or responsible adult of their whereabouts when necessary.
Many parents will worry about mobile phones becoming a distraction. After all, a child that has ready access to the internet and communication with their friends may become unfocussed and easily preoccupied. This could lead to fractious arguments about the completion of homework and bedtime, which would not happen if the child did not possess a phone.
Smartphone and tablet use before bed has been found to contribute to a poor night’s sleep due to the exposure to artificial light and high concentrations of blue wavelength light, which is known to suppress melatonin and cause disruption to sleep. But surely with clear boundaries set, parents should be able to control when their children use mobile phones and what information they are able to access?
Most schools will ban mobile phone use within the building, which eliminates any worries about distractions during the educational day, however, there are sometimes more pressing concerns about what happens in the playground and this is where mobile phones can come into their own. Whilst some will argue that having a mobile phone makes children a target for theft, possessing this very important lifeline to the outside world could prevent a vulnerable child from being bullied.
Bullying is a problem that social media is igniting. Despite the statistics telling us that physical bullying in the playground has decreased within schools over the last decade, cyberbullying is on the rise. Eleven per cent of the children interviewed for the DfE’s latest study on bullying said that they had experienced some sort of cyber bullying and that most of this took place outside of the school premises. Given that it can happen anywhere, the threat of cyberbullying is a very disturbing one, making it very difficult for schools and parents to spot. Providing children with the vehicle to report these incidences in confidence and with no fear of the bullies finding out will set parents minds at ease and help schools to deal effectively with the issue and prevent future cases.
The Contact Group provide an efficient bullying reporting system to enable young people to report incidents of bullying directly to schools. With the option to upload images as evidence, Text Someone, is a real time solution to bullying. One of the principal problems schools face is the reluctance of young people to report incidents of bullying, however, Text Someone eradicates this problem by enabling the communication to be done in private, with the added security of an automated message upon receipt so that the student can be reassured their message has been received and that someone will be dealing with it.
For more information on our Text Someone app or to find out more about our other services for schools, please contact us on 03333 131415.