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Pro: Cellphones provide added safety, learning tools

By ALLISON MILES
July 28, 2013 at 2:28 a.m.


At what age should parents allow their kids to have phones?

From backpacks to book covers, to colored pencils and more, back-to-school season has many Crossroads parents contemplating what their kids need for the upcoming year.

But there's one supply not everyone tends to agree on: the cellphone.

While some moms and dads view the device as added safety for their student, others view it more as an unnecessary distraction.

Vernie Cantu perched at a picnic table inside Victoria's Riverside Park.

Her infant daughter nestled quietly in her lap, while her older son ambled through the grass, squirting everything within reach - the grass, trees and even his parents - with a set of tiny water guns.

The children are the stay-at-home mom's pride and joy, she said, and their safety is top priority.

For that reason, she said she wouldn't mind them having cellphones early on.

"This is Victoria. It's a small town, but you never know. Things happen," the 32-year-old said, recalling the attempted abduction of an 8-year-old boy inside Victoria's Cimarron subdivision in September.

Every family is different, but in modern-day society, it's important that parents and children be able to stay in touch, said Juana Eason, who manages VCS Companies' cellphone department.

She said her store offers a variety of phones with features that allow parents to monitor where their children are as well as control who they communicate with, what websites they visit and even how long they can play their games.

Eason said that phone lines bring peace of mind for a parent - and not just for those with young children. She said she still feels better knowing her own daughter - now 25 - has a way to reach her if necessary.

"Anything can happen," she said.

Education is another argument for getting cellphones into the hands of younger children.

"Living and Learning With Mobile Devices," a study released in May by Grunwald Associates LLC and the Learning First Alliance, showed that many parents think cellphones help their children learn.

According to the study, many think mobile devices can aid in a variety of subjects, ranging from math to foreign languages, to science and more.

Seventy-nine percent of parents surveyed with children in kindergarten through second grade believe the devices help teach reading.

A large number - 62 percent - of those parents surveyed, however, said they also believe phones can be a distraction.

When it comes to Cantu and her babies, she said, she would rather be safe than sorry. A cellphone provides that added protection and a sense of security, as long as it's used the right way.

And she said she would work to make sure her children knew what was - and wasn't - allowed.

"I think phones can be a good thing as long as they know the rules," she said. "To me, it's worth it. I want them to be safe."

Con: Safety, health concerns among reasons children shouldn't have phones

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