Japanese Initiative to Cut Down on Teenage Mobile Phone Use

By: Andy Adams

Every few months we'll hear another scientist release a paper on how mobile phones are giving us cancer/memory loss/making men sterile and mobile phones will see a slump in sales if the worriers get their way.? Mobile phones are interwoven with our cultural fabric these days though and do not appear to be going away any time soon.? If you're in town or on the train you probably see someone talking into a mobile phone or playing a game quietly, if you're really unlucky you'll be forced to endure someone's obnoxious ringtone too.

Mobile phone use may be popular over here but that's nothing compared to the home of all the bleeding edge technology: Japan.? In the far east mobile phone use is enormous, so much so that it's becoming a cause for concern.?

The government has approved a motion to campaign that parents limit their children's use of web-enabled mobile phones.? Aside from the obvious lack of social interaction parents are concerned that children as young as six are spending more time emailing and text messaging than their studies.? It is estimated that one in three sixth graders have mobile phones and 60% of ninth graders have phones too.

It seems to the government that the mobile phone has taken on a new identity of an elaborate toy, as a way to combat this addition in young children the same group are pushing for mobile phones to be made for children specifically which only allow talking and GPS.? The GPS being used for locating lost children and for anyone who has seen a busy work day in Tokyo you'll know how vital this feature is for children.

What seems to be fuelling this addiction is the unwritten rule of the schoolyard, "The 30 minute rule" where children that do not respond to an email within 30 minutes of receiving are ridiculed for their lateness.?

Despite lower crime rates than her in the west the concern over child safety is paramount to many parents and this is why they are willing to shell out 4,000 Yen (~?18) per month so that they can remain in constant contact with their children on their long commutes to school via trains and buses.? Equally the internet on these phones has been campaigned against as there isn't sufficient protection for children against inappropriate websites.

Obviously over in Japan technology is more of a commodity than over here at the moment but even in this country children have mobile phones and the effects of a child having a mobile phone from such an early age can cause concern for some parents but the ability to know exactly where your child is may be the swinging factor for some parents.

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