So I read in today’s papers that there is a new mobile phone being released, designed for 4 year olds, called the Firefly. A nice pink colour, with 5 simple buttons. Not much different from some of the ‘idiot-phones’ available already for those whose minds can’t comprehend anything beyond calling and basic texting. This doesn’t bother me.
What does bother me is the way all of the articles (possibly written by the same freelance reporter?) have described the phone as being ‘targetted’ or ‘aimed’ at 4 year olds. The same articles also ask the oh-so-clever question “Does a 4 year old need a mobile phone?”. And some even invoke the old trope “Children need to be children” (which in Simpsons-speak would translate as “Won’t somebody think of the children!”)
Let’s get this straight…the mobile phone is not targetted or aimed at 4 years olds, it is DESIGNED for 4 year olds. There is no point in targetting a product at 4 year olds, THEY HAVE NO MONEY! Also, and this is a rather major also, 4 year olds CANNOT SIGN AIRTIME AGREEMENTS! You have to be over 18 to sign an agreement and have a bank account and credit rating. Not many 4 year olds have this.
This phone is targetted at one group only…idiotic, gullible, moronic, selfish, lazy parents who will buy and use anything to avoid doing the job of a parent. I have to ask…just WHERE do they think their 4 year old will be that they need to call them on a mobile to have a chat? Why is the 4 year old not with the parent? And what sort of chat will they be having anyway?
Now, some unctuous parent will no doubt say “But Neil, we send our dearest little <insert name here> to playschool every day for xxx hours. What if he/she/it needs to reach us in an emergency?” Erm…won’t the playschool be doing that? And should, for whatever reason, the apocalypse occur at the playschool and your precious little mite is the only one left staggering forth from the burning building a la Die Hard, will they have the cognitive ability to [a] have their new pink playmobile phone with them, [b] know that now would be the time to call Mummy or Daddy for a chat, and [c] not be a gibbering wreck in the rubble crying their eyes out waiting for an adult to come rescue them?
I have no problem with the phone, or the phone’s manufacturers, they are merely responding to a growing trend for children to be ‘mobiled-up’! There is some spurious factoid doing the rounds about how 6 year olds are staying up late at night having text-sessions – just what are they texting, it fascinates me…and if your little one HAS to have a mobile, just lock the damn thing so it can only call 999, Mum and Dad!
I have a problem with the parents who buy the damn things…parents have been inculcating their kids with nonsense since year dot (just consider religion!) It would be nice to see a story in a year or two saying that the phone failed because parents simply wouldn’t buy it, but sadly anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of walking through Clapham, or Barnes, or Sloane Square, or a hundred other similar locales, will know that there is already a demographic of annoying parents just salivating at the thought of little Sebastian or Candice owning the latest mobile tech before any other child in the school district! In the words of Dan Ashcroft, “The idiots are winning!”
What has really got my goat about this story is the terrible reporting of it. Come on written press, dig a little deeper, write a little more carefully and stop with the headline grabbing misdirection. Try a little journalism, and practice what you preach. You’d be all over the BBC if they ran such an ill-conceived story! Consider more than the ‘Are mobiles safe’ old rope, and look deeper at why society deems mobiles for kids acceptable and required. Is this yet more jumping at non-existent paedophile shadows? Has mobile telephony evolved into more than a tool for communication and become something much more sociologically fascinating? You could even ask why is the phone pink? Why not yellow, or blue, or a variety of colours? Good Dawkins, there is so much more to this story!
But I guess, like TV news coverage, the written press is less about investigative journalism than it is about sensationalism and repetition. How sad.
Now, I wonder if Apple will release an iPhone 3GS Junior version…hmmm?
A plea – are you a parent of a toddler? Please don’t buy your kid a phone. Wait until they are at least 10 years old. Buy them lots of Lego, or take them out at weekends, or teach them a musical instrument. It is activity and fun children crave, NOT digital communications with text capabilities, 3G and WiFi and integrated bluetooth stereo connectivity!