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Do elementary school kids really need all that technology?

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Do elementary school kids really need all that technology?

By By Jilly Hall, Assistant Chief Photographer

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Think about elementary school in the very onset of the 21st century. Kids are playing on the playground and trading their lunch snacks. Well, at least that was myelementary experience. Maybe this is why I’m shocked to hear some of my former elementary teachers complain about their students talking on their cell phones or listening to their iPods in class or during recess.

What? Cell phones? They’re less than 10 years old! I didn’t get a cell phone until middle school, and that was only for security purposes. (I could only send 50 text messages a month!)

It’s also extremely scary that elementary school students have facebook pages and twitter accounts. There are so many things that could harm them (like contacting the wrong people or not knowing what not to say) and even affect their social interactions.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ll tell you right now that I think technology is a good thing. I have a Blackberry, an iPod touch and a Macbook myself, but I’m 16 years old and actually have a use for these items.

Why do 8-year-olds need laptops? Are they writing essays or emailing teachers and other professionals, or looking for jobs? I don’t think so. Do they have to stay away from home for more than a few nights and a cell phone is the only way they can contact someone? The only people they really need to contact are their parents anyway. It’s not like they have serious relationships that they need to maintain. They’re kids, and they haven’t even hit middle school.

Now, I have to admit that when I was in fifth grade, the idea of having a cell phone definitely crossed my mind more than once. I really wanted one. Of course, that didn’t mean my parents went and got me one. I was angry at the time, but now I realize they were trying to keep me safe and make it easier for me to enjoy my childhood.

Technology can even prove to be a distraction for the young children of today. Consider the number of kids playing video games on their computers instead of playing outside, or texting on their cell phones instead of enjoying themselves on the playground at recess. Who do they need to contact at recess anyway? Their Lego consultant?

The other night while I was babysitting, I heard music playing from the stairway (where the kids were playing), and I see the friend of the oldest boy (age 11) with his cell phone, getting on Pandora. What? I didn’t start using Pandora until a year ago, and this 11-year-old boy beats me to it. Plus, he has a better phone than I do.

Maybe there are reasons to give a child this kind of technology sometimes, but mainly it just seems creepy. So many dangers are associated with the technology we have these days, and elementary school kids just aren’t mature enough to handle it. They don’t realize that there are people out there who prey on their childlike innocence. Children should not have to worry about protecting their innocence.

I can see kids getting cell phones without texting (certainly not a Droid or a Blackberry) only if there are times when the parents or guardians need to be contacted. Other than that, I think some technology should not be given to children under the middle school age. I mean, c’mon, what do they need it for?


13 Responses to “Do elementary school kids really need all that technology?”

  1. Clay Boggess on March 23rd, 2011 7:17 am

    Unfortunately we live in a society that no longer rewards “delayed gratification.” More and more parents seem willing to take the easy route and simply go along with what everyone else appears to be doing and not stand up for what they feel is best for their children and say “not yet.”

  2. Stephanie Hall on March 23rd, 2011 8:24 am

    Great column, Jilly! I especially like the part where you acknowledge that your parents were trying to keep you safe and make it easier for you to enjoy your childhood by not getting you a cell phone in elementary school. Your parents sound like intelligent people!

    This column is getting posted on the fridge!

  3. Courtney Cattell on March 23rd, 2011 5:01 pm

    I agree. Why do little kids need all of that stuff? They don’t have important stuff to keep track of.

  4. Aunt Jenny on March 30th, 2011 9:16 pm

    Dearest Jillian. Very well written and a truly enjoyable read. I do agree for the most part, however, I also disagree a bit. Elementary school age children absolutely do NOT on a weekly, daily, or minute by minute basis need the technology of cell phones. However, as a family, we are having our first experience with multiple children involved in multiple activities at various locations. Three children with three separate activities and only two parents causes one child to be parentless at their chosen activity. So…we did purchase our 9 year old a cell phone, but I must admit it is for our peace of mind and not her enjoyment. The cell phone goes to soccer and play dates ONLY….places she is alone without a parent and may need to contact one of us. If it goes elsewhere…it will be repossed by Mom and Dad. And…it is absolutely NOT allowed at school as there are plenty of capable adults available for her to contact at school. I will tell you she has been asking for one since she was 7 (because others had cell phones…including her cousin), but we told her a cell phone will not be presented to you simply due to your age, but because it is a family necessity. But, you should have heard the 6 year old scream about the unfairness of her older sister having a cell phone and she not having one. As far as lap tops, you are correct…unnecessary. But Santa was all out of other ideas…haha. And ipods…well, they are just cool. If you do decide, as parent, to supply the technology then you are correct…you must be deligent and vigilant about its use. You must limit the time spent and the places visited. And remember…the next time you babysit…no Guitar Hero or Just Dance…I want you all crafting and exercising. LOL. We love you. Aunt Jenny

  5. Sierra Bauer on April 14th, 2011 11:41 am

    I agree. Elementary kids do not need cellphones. I can understand the computer and iPods. Everybody listens to music; there’s nothing wrong with it. And they could be using the computers for projects or to look up something they don’t know what means. And maybe a tracphone for emergencies. I remember my friend got a cellphone in the 5th grade. My 9-year-old cousin has a facebook account. My little sister’s friend has a cell phone. They are way too young and are certainly not mature enough for any of that. But then again, it is the parents’ decision on whether or not they think their child is mature enough or not.

  6. Andrea Rollert on April 20th, 2011 10:44 am

    You are totally right, Jilly! I hate seeing elementary school kids pulling out their cell phones. I didn’t get one until my sophomore year and I don’t even have a facebook (although that’s a personal choice). I’m just glad my childhood is filled with memories of hide-and-seek and bike rides, not video games and tweeting to random people. Good job, chica, very well written like always.

  7. Nikki Kelley on April 25th, 2011 10:26 am

    I completely agree with you, Jilly. It bugs me so much to see kids half my age carry around better technology than me and half the time, they don’t even need it! I got my first cell phone around the time of starting middle school. The reason I got it was to contact my mom while at cheer practice. This phone was a prepaid phone that did not flip nor have a touch screen and I couldn’t even text on it! Oh, by the way, good column. :)

  8. Nicole Olgiate on May 6th, 2011 3:39 pm

    Our world is corrupt. :/

  9. Joe Harris on May 6th, 2011 3:54 pm

    Amen, sister. lol. Same with gaming systems. When I was a boy, all I had was a Gameboy color, and I was lucky to have that. It’s ridiculous to see them with a DS; it almost makes me angry. Then the fact that they can play rated M games … I’M 16! I can’t even play them! I met this kid last summer, and he was like 8 and he was like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to get Call of Duty Black Ops.” That’s not even a good idea. It leaves a huge impression on them and so they go in school and think it’s ok to go around with weapons hurting people and thinking it’s a game.

  10. Tyler Parrish on May 17th, 2011 1:41 pm

    I agree 100% with you, Jilly. I grew up the same way. Didn’t get a cell phone till 7th grade. I think a reason behind it is they want to be just like adults; they want to be able to do all the “cool” things that they do.

  11. Jade Allen on August 31st, 2011 5:09 pm

    Much agreed. I DID actually have a cellphone when I was in elementary school, but it was only for contacting my parents, and otherwise locked. I did have unlimited calls, but was absolutely not allowed to text or get contacts. Honestly, once I got that phone. too, I easily lost it. I found no fun in having a phone that simply stayed in my pocket, and therefore I found it to be much more of a nusiance than I had expected.

    I lost it a few weeks later, and when I was told I could either get a phone exactly the same or not have one at all, I decided honestly on not getting another. I didn’t want to have technology I couldn’t really use, which honestly pushed me away from really wanted technology much until I got into middle school. Before I knew it, I was taking classes that demanded more attention and studying on my part, not to mention homework, although I suppose I had it easy compared to these high school years.

    Even now, as I have a facebook and cellphone and music player, I honestly seldom use them. I LOST interest after I got them. Sure, I update my status almost daily, but that’s about it. I only add people I know or are the friends of my own. There are too many in the world who can easily reach the younger more vulnerable generation, because they either don’t care or are inept at using privacy settings or judging whom you can or can’t add on facebook. Of 1,000 “friends” on facebook, how many do you really know? I only have about 300 friends, all relatives, friends, acquaintances or people I’ve met over the years. I have a good friend in New Zealand whom I met about a year ago, but she tells me all the time about people she doesn’t know sending her friend requests from around the world.

    Anyone in the world can reach the younger generation through these social networks, and it seems like in the end, it won’t end well. Parents need to step up and realize the doors they are haphazardly opening that could affect their children’s future.

  12. Sophie Lockhart on October 19th, 2011 11:19 pm

    Jilly you’re just awesome. I agree with everything in this article — didn’t get a phone til 7th grade (my dad’s used one), and couldn’t text until 8th grade. I don’t even use my phone that often and I’m in 10th grade. I don’t understand why elementary kids have them, and I don’t understand why their parents are okay with it. Keep it up!

  13. Alyssa Arriola on January 4th, 2012 10:02 am

    PREACH IT!!!!!!!!

    I do not agree ONE BIT on ANY child having a cell phone at the age of 12 or below. Even 13 is a bit too young, looking back now. Yes, I did have a cell phone when I was 10 but looking back, I realize how STUPID and POINTLESS it was to have a cell phone. I regret having one, to be completely honest. I didn’t even NEED one until I was in the 7th or 8th grade.

    As for the iPods and the laptops… oh my God, I agree 100% again. No child needs an iPod while they’re still in elementary. Maybe middle school, I suppose. But ELEMENTARY?! I’m sorry, but those parents are just setting themselves up to have a spoiled child when that child gets to middle and high school.

    This brings me to the point of how children these days are raised on technology. I see those Nooks and Kindles every where and just … why would you NOT want to read the ACTUAL BOOK?! Kids shouldn’t be growing up on electronics, ESPECIALLY cell phones. Kids should be out HAVING FUN and playing on the playground, playing ‘house’ and getting dirty in the mud and dirt and rolling around in the grass and playing Tag or something. You’re only a kid once, so why let your child waste their life with a cell phone at that age?

    When I was in 5th grade, some 30-35 year old man had texted my number and was sending me very explicit and nasty messages … that was exposed to me when I was 10. Just because you don’t give your number out to many people doesn’t mean that that number doesn’t exist. That was a very dangerous experience for me and with a cell phone with GPS features and what not, that phone can be tracked VERY easily. And with young children having all these nice Blackberry’s, iPhones, and Droids … well, I think that’s self-explanatory.

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