At age 9, Zuzu is starting to use the Internet more frequently. My husband and I recently allowed her to get an email address, which she mostly uses to email her grandparents and to share important messages with her best friends — several of whom live on our street. The fact that these emails seem to consist entirely of emoticons is baffling, but what do I know? She also uses the Internet to make her picks in the online football pool she is participating in with her dad. Because it is never too young to start gambling online.
Zuzu has had an iPod Touch for a few years now and uses that with our at-home WiFi network to send and receive email. But like most kids her age, what Zuzu really wants is her own mobile phone. For the record, she is in 4th grade. As much as I think Zuzu is too young and too irresponsible for a mobile phone, I must admit, there have been times when I wished she did have one. Zuzu walks home from school with a group of friends and with JR’s afternoon activities and last-minute play date invitations, there have been times when I needed to get a message to Zuzu quickly but had no way of doing so. Those of us who live on our smartphones get very, very dependent on them.
My husband and I have decided that next year, when Zuzu enters middle school, we may well have to bite the bullet and get her a mobile phone. Middle school is a whole new world of after-school activities and her schedule will be very different from JR’s, which can create confusion. I can see how it would be convenient to be able to call Zuzu, or send her a quick text to let her know that she should meet me at JR’s soccer practice or she should go to the library after school.
Of course, all parents know that there are extremely serious safety issues when it comes to kids and mobile phones, such as bullying, privacy and, for older kids, phone use while driving. We have already talked to Zuzu about being safe while on the Internet. Allowing her to get her own phone will introduce a whole new set of concerns for us as parents. My mobile phone carrier, AT&T, is aware of the seriousness of mobile phone safety for kids and has made a commitment to become a leader in providing resources, education and tools for families to help them better manage mobile safety.
Later this month, I will have the opportunity to attend a webinar on mobile safety for kids ages 8-11 with AT&T and leading industry experts. AT&T dubs these webinars their “Mobile Safety School.” I am looking forward to hearing about what issues we need to think about as we consider when to buy Zuzu that ultimate sign of being a big kid: her own phone. (In my day, the big excitement was when my parents got a
second phone line at their house for me and my brother to use. How times have changed!)
AT&T is also offering one lucky West of the Loop reader a chance to attend one of the Mobile Safety School webinars plus a $50 Visa Gift Card for your participation! The Mobile Safety School schedule is as follows:
- October 23 at 1 pm ET – mobile safety for kids ages 8-11
- October 24 at 1 pm ET – mobile safety for kids ages 12-14
- October 25 at 1 pm ET – mobile safety for kids ages 15-17
To enter the giveaway for the $50 Visa gift card and the chance to attend this important webinar, please leave a comment to this post telling me your biggest concern about kids and mobile phone usage — even if the answer is the size of your phone bill! In your comment, be sure to tell me which session of the Mobile Safety School you would like to attend. Your comment must be received by midnight on Wednesday October 18. I will select a winner at random. Good luck!
Full disclosure time: this is a sponsored post for AT&T’s Mobile Safety School and The Motherhood. I am being compensated for my work in helping to spread the word about AT&T’s mobile safety initiatives. As always, the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.