Does an 8-year-old really need to have a texting gadget?

| Published: August 30, 2009

The New York Times recently ran an article called “They’re Old Enough to Text. Now What?” In it, author John Biggs outlines some age-appropriate gadgets, courtesy of HiTechMommy.com.

The story features a range of devices, from the Leapfrog Text and Learn, a toddler learning toy that looks like a cell phone, to actual mobile phones like the Sidekick LX for older kids. There are even texting services with products geared for young people. Kajeet.com offers the LG Rumor and other phones bundled with a plan package geared for grade schoolers. Pronto, an affordable text/email-only handheld for GetPeek.com, also comes with a texting plan aimed at pre-teens.

I found this kind of interesting — and a little confusing. If you believe the media, many parents can’t seem to pry their kids away from texting. Now there’s an article on how to get the young ones involved.

So I’m torn here. I obviously love mobile technology. (I wouldn’t have this job otherwise.) But if I had kids, would I want them to have texting handsets at such a young age? I’m not sure.

There are arguments that could be made for both sides: Handheld devices can enhance motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It also allows parents to stay in touch with their kids at any time. But some researchers also think that the overuse of text-based communication can stunt other socialization skills, particularly in very young children. Some medical professionals even say repetitive eye strain or tendonitis can have long-term damaging effects on developing bodies.

The more I think about this, the more befuddling it gets. So I figured I’d tap the PD brain trust on this one, and appeal to you guys with one question: Do you think there’s such a thing as “too young for texting”?

[via The New York Times]