Early start for phone smart
One of the big questions facing modern parents is no longer if they should buy their child a mobile phone, but when.
And as phones become more powerful, allowing users to share photos and videos on an increasing number of social media sites, concerns about possible misuse by children are heightened.
British technology guru Stephen Heppell says there is no “too young”, and children as young as three or four could benefit from having a smartphone.
“Like crayons and books, the earlier we get children comfortable with them, the better, ” he told The West Australian.
“The analogy is a bit like swimming in the Swan River — for safety, we wouldn’t keep them away from water until they were 15 and then chuck them off a pier, we’d help them develop water safety, common sense, awareness and caution.”
Professor Heppell, from the centre for excellence in media practice at Bournemouth University, advises Australian schools on technology for learning. He said giving a phone to a young child helped them understand the different components in their “hyper-connected world”.
He said a child given a phone at age five would have fun writing texts to grandparents, then happily put it to one side and continue to value books and other activities. “A kid who has to wait till 10 for a phone will put everything else down and focus completely on the long-awaited phone, ” he said. “Parents will not be able to prise it from their hands.”
Professor Heppell stressed that parents and teachers had to use common sense and make sure children observed recommended age ratings for all digital media.
Australian Communications and Media Authority senior adviser Rosalie O’Neale said there was no right age for a child to get a phone because it depended on how responsible the child was.
Parents should talk to children about how to stay safe online “as soon as a child picks up a device or starts interacting online”.
Ms O’Neale said it was important for parents to establish rules for mobile use, such as where it would be put at night and sharing images online, and to keep talking about how they used social media until adulthood.
“A lot of parents give their children an iPod thinking it’s just for music — and it’s not, ” she said.
Network for Internet Investigation and Research Australia president Philip Tam said many parents did not realise how powerful smartphones were. “They are essentially a powerful super computer they can carry around in their pocket, ” he said.
Some common internet/texting acronyms:
IMO - In my opinion
KOTL - Kiss on the lips
TBH - To be honest
WYD - What you doing?
YW - You’re welcome
IDK - I don’t know
BTW - By the way
JK/JJ - Just kidding/Just joking
IDC - I don’t care
LMK - Let me know
OMG - Oh my God
LOL - Laughing out loud
ROFL - Rolling on floor laughing
LMAO - Laughing my a*** off
OTF - On the floor (laughing)
WBU - What about you?
NP - No problem
WTH/WTF - What the hell/What the f***
IMO/IMHO - In my (humble) opinion
ASL - Age/sex/location?
IRL - In real life
TTYL - Talk to you later
THX - Thanks
F2F - Face to face
ILY - I love you
PAL/PAW - Parents are listening/parents are watching
PPL - People
NSFW - Not safe for work
© The West Australian
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