Cell phones: How young is too young?

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)  –  A 13-year-old Riley County boy is accused of sending nude or partially nude pictures of himself to a 10-year-old girl. Due to the nature of the crime, Riley County Police said they won’t be releasing any other information. Regardless, it’s an incident that raises a question for parents, how young is too young to have a cell phone?

If you ask 11-year-old Austin Bramlett, he’ll tell you he’s ready for a cell phone. Sadly, it’s parents don’t agree.

“I don’t have data, so yeah it’s technically an iPod,” said Austin.

Austin can only get messages when he’s on wifi while his 14-year-old sister Mary Paige has full phone privileges. It’s a balance their mom, Carrie, adjusts as the two get older.

“She hit milestones. When she was about 10 or so she was able to get Pinterest and then at 13 she was able to get Facebook and Snapchat,” said Carrie.

So how young is too young? Kelly Durkin, executive director of LifeHouse Child Advocacy Center in Topeka, said there’s really no right answer.

“All the responsibilities that come with a phone, can they handle that? And the parent is the best person to know that,” said Durkin.

Durkin said different children mature at different rates, so it’s up to parents to make the right decision for their kids. Regardless of age, she said it’s important for parents to be in control of their child’s phone.

“You need to let them know that I as the caregiver have the right and I will periodically take your phone and if there’s something on there that shouldn’t be I have the right to take that phone from you,” said Durkin.

Durkin said parents need to talk to their kids about predators and the dangers of sexting, the taking and sending of nude or partially nude photos. It’s something that Mary Paige said she sees at her high school all the time.

“There are people that have photos on their phones that I think they shouldn’t and then like one person has it and then another person will see it and it goes so fast around the school,” said Mary Paige.

Thankfully, Carrie said she had a conversation with Mary Paige about the dangers of sexting early on.

“There’s a lot of conversations about how that’s going to be out there forever. Everything you do or say is out there forever,” said Carrie.


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