19/03/2011 23:21 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Mobile Phones For Children

Surely reception aged children are far too young for mobile phones?

This year, as I took my four-year-old daughter to school for the very first time, I was amazed by the sight of other parents with children in reception year handing over mobile phones and saying, "Call me when you're done."

Now, I am no Luddite, my husband and I have laptops, netbooks, a Wii and an Xbox 360 between us. We love technology and all it can do, but I am completely against giving my child a cell phone.

Perhaps being a fuddy duddy mummy staggering towards 40 has turned me into a judgemental fossil, but I remember the days when contacting my parents after school involved a twenty minute hike home and the use of a Bakelite phone (yes, I am that old). Or you just sat at the gates and waited for your parents to arrive without complaint.

There was none of this hitting speed dial so mummy (or daddy) could gallop to the gates in their 4x4.
Emily Carlisle from More Than Just a Mother agrees: "I wouldn't give my child a mobile phone at the age of five, in fact I would need persuading that they needed one much before their teens. In my opinion, giving a small child a phone also opens them up to being a victim of crime."

While I'm not too worried about gangs of tots stealing mobile phones from each other, I do think Emily has a point. Reception aged children should not have mobile phones. Not only is it unnecessary but there are the health risks to consider.

Recent research done by the UK's BioInitiative Report describes hundreds of studies that link electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure to Alzheimer's, brain fog, birth defects, insomnia, Lou Gehrig's disease and more. Additionally, further research has shown that children tend to absorb 50 percent more electropollution than adults and most countries recommend that they only use them in emergencies.

It's enough to give me pause to ponder. The research is conflicted; there are as many articles talking about how research into mobile phones is still in its infancy as there are those that talk of doom and gloom. However, it is this very conflict that suggests a mobile phone should not be in the hands of a child, especially when they are as young as four and five. Until we know exactly what the effects are, we should limit their contact with mobile phones.

Tabitha Potts from Me Me Mine feels the same way: "I wouldn't give a reception age child a mobile phone. It's not proven that there are no health risks. I'm hoping I can keep the ban until they are in their late teens when it is less risky to developing brains and bodies."

It just seems ridiculous. Most of the children I know in reception are more inclined to eat, throw, drop, or randomly prod a mobile phone than they are to pick it up and call for help. Unless they've been taught how to do so, and frankly I think those hours of teaching would be better spent on reading or numbers.

However, fellow mum Samantha thinks that I'm not swinging with the times.

"Of course I give my son a mobile phone and, yes, he is in reception. I want to be sure that he always has a way of contacting me if anything should go wrong and, honestly, I think all the hype about how it damages health is just that, hype. So we didn't have mobile phones as children, so what!"

Angela has two children aged four and eight, and she thinks that Samantha has a point, "It's like saying you're not going to microwave breakfast because you didn't have a microwave as a child. Both my children have mobile phones with our numbers programmed into speed dial. It makes me rest easy while they are at school and it isn't like they're using them to call their friends in breaks."

While I respect the fact many parents like Angela and Samantha have these views, I think that mobile phones should be banned at school. Children shouldn't be allowed to have such things until they're capable of tying their shoelaces and, even then, you should hold out for another ten years or so. Don't even get me started on companies marketing mobile phones specifically for children. That is money making madness at its worst.

My philosophy is that when my children can afford to buy a mobile phone with their own money then they're welcome to have one. Until then, the phone at the school's reception will be just fine in an emergency, thank you.

What do you think?
Should five year olds have phones?
When did you give your children a phone?
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