Tech expert: younger students should have access to cell phones - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Tech expert: younger students should have access to cell phones

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

In an era of constant communication and technology, parents often wonder when is it okay for a kid to have their own cell phone. 

"I don't believe one size fits all.  In other words, how frequently are you separated from your child, how frequently are they alone and unsupervised," said Stan Prager from Go Geeks in East Longmeadow.

Just like no two children are alike, no two parents rules are either, which is why when it comes to your child having their own cell phone, Prager said it's really situational

"The whole point of giving a kid a cell phone early isn't as a toy.  It's so that if they're in trouble, they can dial 911 or dial you," Prager explained.

Prager bought his children their first phone at age 11, back when phones weren't as big as they are today.  He said that now, he would do so at seven or eight years old. 

"I would suggest as early as possible that they can use the phone.  There's a lot of people who think that there's no reason for them to have an iPhone at seven or eight years old.  That's probably true, but there's no reason a kid at  seven or eight year old can't have a flip phone or can have a smart phone with some of the special features turned off,"  Prager added.

It's the extras that cause concern - Facebook, Instagram, cyberbullying fears,or even sexting, but Prager noted that there is no reason you can't control these on your child's device. 

"You can manage these things.  If it's an iPhone, you can put parental controls on every app so they can't access them or just don't have them installed on that phone," Prager said.

Prager said that just as you'd monitor your child's diet, medication, or sleeping habits, do so with their cell phones. 

We went out to ask some parents in the community what they thought age was appropriate.

"I think as soon as they're old enough to go by themselves.  We need to be able to contact them and keep in touch.  I don't think their phone should have the capability to watch movies and have data plans and everything until they're in their mid to late teens," said Simon Scher.

"If you feel your child's responsible enough, I don't really think that age matters.  Once e they start going to school - fifth, sixth grade - once they're out on their own...something happens, they would be able to get in touch with you," added Lorenzo Poole.

Kerri Flavo of Springfield has a 7-year-old son.  She says most of her son's friends don't have cell phones, but she knows one day, it will be something to consider.

"I would think when he's older, I would say at least 12 or 13.  I know, at some point, he'll ask, but he doesn't need one now so," Falvo said.

Copyright 2015 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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