As Canadian children head back to school, many even as young as nine years, will carry smartphones.

As Canadian children head back to school, many even as young as nine years, will carry smartphones.
Photo Credit: CBC

Most kids heading to school with smartphones


There is great peer pressure among Canadian students to have smartphones and when parents can afford them, they do provide the phones and pay for the monthly plans.

Once a luxury, now a necessity

“What was once a luxury is now considered a necessity,” says Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst and journalist based in London, Ontario. “The ages continue to shrink. So it used to be 14 or 15 years old was the average (to get a cell phone). Now increasingly we’re seeing nine, ten-year-old kids getting it because parents seem to feel that…if all of their friends have it, their kids should have it as well.”


And parents are not buying old flip phones, but rather smart phones that can support the apps that connect them to social media like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Young people rarely make phone calls, but are more likely to text or use social media apps, says Levy.

Tech analyst Carmi Levy says some parents are intimidated by smartphone technology, but they should still discuss rules about its use.
Tech analyst Carmi Levy says some parents are intimidated by smartphone technology, but they should still discuss rules about its use.

‘This isn’t just another toy’

Too often, parents provide phones without giving their children any guidance about using them, he adds. “That is a recipe for disaster…This isn’t just another toy. It’s a very important gateway to some very adult-like behaviours and they (children) are looking to you for guidance and advice.”

Some parents draw away because they are intimidated by the technology, says Levy. But he says children can handle technology and parents need to talk about the behaviours around it.

‘Very powerful platforms…huge amounts of trouble’

As an example of the dangers, Levy says sharing an inappropriate photo can get one kicked out of school, fired from a job, or make it difficult to find one in the first place. “My concerns are that these are very powerful platforms and left unchecked they can get kids into huge amounts of trouble very quickly.”

In Canada, an unlocked smartphone can cost between $700 and $1,000, or if one signs up for a monthly plan, between $300 and $500. Then depending on the number of minutes, data, and texts one chooses the monthly fee can range between $35 and $100.

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2 comments on “Most kids heading to school with smartphones
  1. Avatar Dave Gerrior says:

    I forgot to mention something else. Bullying is a fact of life in schools – take it from me I remember all too well being bullied! Think about the kid who has his phone stolen or smashed by the school bully – what happens to him or her? They end up afraid to tell their parents that on the first week in school they had their phone smashed! What are their options? Well they could do what I did. They don’t tell the truth because that would mean having to tell the school officials that “Joe Bully” smashed my phone. Like an abuse person they accept responsibility and say something like “I fell down on my way home and broke it”. Now his parents are mad at him because he is not responsible enough to care for his possessions. A kid who is bullied won’t tell his parents or the school because they would haul the bully up for discipline. And what happens as soon as the school officials are gone? The bully hunts down the kid and beats the crap out of him. And on it goes. The cycle of bullying is the worst possible time for a kid – Again trust me I know. Giving a kid a $200 phone makes him a target for all the bullies in his school. If I could plead with parents and school officials please ban phones in the school or a lot of kids are going to suffer abuse and who is to blame? In my book it’s the school officials who don’t recognize the sad reality of bullying! Ban cell phones and don’t give the bullies another target, please.

  2. Avatar David Gerrior says:

    I feel sorry for the parents who cannot afford the outrageous expense of an Iphone or similar product. It’s bad enough that parents have to find the money for running shoes and now on top of everything else they are expected to shell out $80 a month for a phone for their kid! Personally, I think schools should ban cell phones. It puts added stress to the parents and kids who can’t afford what should be a luxury. The best way to create a level paying field for the parents and kids is to ban they outright. I can’t think of a real reason for a kid to have a cell phone. Dave