We all understand and appreciate the benefits that mobile phones have given us, the ease of being in constant communication with friends and family. However there are increasingly numbers of people especially young people and children who are becoming addicted to mobile phones and in particular the short messaging texts which can be sent, or more commonly SMS.
Phones are available anywhere and everywhere, in the specialist shops, the supermarkets and can range from the simple cheap phones to phones costing hundreds which have video capabilities, have cameras, e mail and include the popular instant messaging programmes which are accessed over the internet from the phone. It is though that now 9 out of 10 children own a mobile phone with billions being spent every year on purchasing the latest have to have models.
When phones become a threat
Used correctly a mobile phone in the hands of a child or young person is undoubtedly a great thing but it seems that more and more teenagers and young children are becoming addicted to a part of the phone called text messaging.
Recent studies showed that parents give their children money for things such as school meals but that money isn’t being used for that purpose but instead is credited to a phone and used to send text messages to friends and that child hadn’t bought a single meal in school for over three months.
A recent study in Germany showed that over 380,000 people may be addicted to their phones and text messaging with one boy spending over £5,000 in am month compulsively text messaging friends. It is a problem which can lead to not only spiraling bills but one which also leads to depression and personality disorders.
While the mobile phone is considered by many to be an accessory, experts are becoming increasingly concerned that many children are using them as a comfort blanket. When receiving a text message the child feels important and gives them a sense of need, it boosts their self worth.
Studies recently showed that many children cannot be without their phone, are constantly checking for messages and get extremely agitated when away from it, which can lead to problems within the family. In cases of the extreme children are even taking to stealing from their families to fund the habit of continual text messaging and even stealing credit cards running up huge bills in the process.
What you as a parent can do
When buying your child a phone set out some clear rules beforehand
- State how frequently you are willing to “top up” the phone
- State how the “top-ups” will be funded
- Give guidelines on who they should give their number to
- State the privilege of having a phone and why not to abuse it
- State what will happen if they abuse those privileges
- Explain any worried you have about usage of the phone