Should children have cell phones? It depends.

A child’s responsibility level, knowledge of how to use technology, and understanding of the cautions needed when navigating the digital world are all issues families must discuss together when thinking about giving their child a cell phone.

Writing on, Tamara Kaldor, M.S. ’11, assistant director of Erikson Institute’s Technology in Early Childhood Center, explains that while some parents might see value in giving their child a phone — and children themselves might request one — it’s important to ask a lot of questions of themselves and their children to determine the right time.

“Until children are able to responsibly communicate and navigate the digital world, they should not have their own smartphone,” Kaldor writes. “Even when they acquire these skills, they should only begin carrying a phone if parents continue to have ongoing conversations about their children’s activities, friendships, and media use.”

Kaldor’s piece is part of a series in which experts from around the country weigh in on hot-button issues. The latest feature includes the opinions of more than two dozen experts answering the question “Should children have cell phones?” While some take clear “yes” and “no” positions, Kaldor and others write that it’s a situational decision.

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