On Mothers, Kids and Cell Phones

As if mothers didn’t have enough on their minds, the advent of the cell phone –and the matter of when and how their children should use one — has opened up a whole new field of potential conflict.

In polling for the current edition of Parenting magazine’s Mom Matters newsletter, mothers who have at least one kid age 6-12 were asked whether they approve of children having cell phones. Ninety percent of respondents said they do, but 55 percent said the kids should wait to get one until they’re older than 12.

When mothers do get cell phones for their offspring, what sort of limits do they set on how those phones are used? Seventy-four percent said they impose restrictions on whom the kid can call or text, while 70 percent said they limit overall frequency of use. Nearly as many, 69 percent, restrict use of the phone for Web surfing.

Of course, the main reason mothers get cell phones for their kids is not so the latter can chatter/text/surf away. It’s for the mother’s own peace of mind. So, when asked to cite the main reasons they’d get a cell phone for a kid, respondents gave the most mentions (by 85 percent) to “safety — they can use it if they are in trouble,” followed closely by “staying in contact — I can use it to stay in contact with them” (83 percent).