What Happened to Wanting GameBoys?

By Jennifer Shmukler

I sit across from him, making sure that he is working on his homework when suddenly the SpongeBob theme song breaks the silence.

“One second,” Jason said, “my mom is calling.”

From his pocket emerged a brand new black Apple iPhone 5S. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A seven-year-old with a phone that I had been asking for ever since I became eligible for an upgrade in October of last year.

I let my curiosity take over.

“Did you ever have a GameBoy?” I asked him.

“A GameBoy? What’s that?”

One second here, am I a dinosaur now? Stuck in the old age of GameBoys, pen pals, and face-to-face communication? I remember begging my parents for my first GameBoy at Jason’s age, and constantly hearing the word “no.” And when I finally got one, I jumped for joy. But would this device satisfy today’s kids? Not at all. They have their eyes on something much better, and definitely more expensive.

A report from Common Sense Media found that about 38 percent of children under the age of two years old use tablets or smartphones, although they don’t necessarily “own” them. What is really interesting about this number is that the same survey conducted two years ago found that only 10 percent of such children use these devices. Therefore, the number of two-year-olds and under using touch devices has increased by four times in just two years.

Not only are parents letting children play with such devises, but they are also buying these “toys” for their young ones. However, are these purchases really necessary? Where do we draw the line? How young is too young for an iPhone?

A Sheepshead Bay AT&T Authorized Reseller, Iliya Gerasimishin, seems to have some answers. “I understand that parents want their children to have phones for safety purposes so that they can always be within reach, especially during emergencies. But get your seven-year-old a crappy phone that doesn’t cost too much to replace, not an iPhone that costs around one hundred dollars a month for service alone. Who is he going to FaceTime, or text? What on earth could he use that phone for except to call him mom and play Angry Birds?”

Although some parents believe that such devises offer certain intellectual stimulation, how can parents be sure that the child understands the true value of the device?

We live in a world where safety and instant gratification are in high demand, but should there be certain standards for receiving an iPhone, such as having a double-digit age, or will newborns and infants soon be carrying these devices too?

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