ran a story under this title on 27 July 2005 (read it here – requires free login). The basic argument is that some action groups are demanding that Congress regulate mobile phones marketed to children. The industry is clearly targeting young children as its next growth market. It sounds to me a little bit alarmist and over the top. The arguments include the fact that cellphones will distract children at school, and that “even though cell phones for children are marketed as a tool for children to contact parents in an emergency, in reality the phones allow advertisers of all kinds to better market to children. Despite the [wireless] industry’s rhetoric, [Walt] Disney and the telecommunications companies really want to use children as conduits to their parents’ wallets. And marketers want another way to bypass parents and speak directly to the nation’s children.”
Shock horror! Who would thought that advertisers were so evil – actually wanting to connect directly with kids? And what evil device is this cellphone that allows them to do something they have yet not been able to do via magazines, games, TV, radio, music, billboards, in store promotions, sponsorships, and many other techniques? Oh wait… they have been doing for some time now, haven’t they? (The article goes on to give some good stats about current cellphone usage amongst US kids).
Would it surprise you to know that Ralph Nader is behind this? Probably not. The lesson is simple – if you want to find a political hot potato, just kick up a fuss around the Millennial Kids of today – you’re bound to grab attention and win the sympathy vote. But I wish adults would think with their brains on these issues, and not get all neaderthal about the use of technology. Rather than banning their kids from using cellphones (Internet, TV, etc), why not spend some time teaching their children how to learn to discern for themselves what is good and bad, and give them techniques for managing the deluge of advertising information that flows our way each day. Why not? Because most parents don’t have these skills themselves. Maybe Ralph Nader should start educating, rather than protesting.

TomorrowToday Global