Faces behind the phone

Downsides of children and young teens having cell phones. / Jessica Fairley

Children are getting cell phones at younger ages and parents may think of it as a convenient way to access their kids but some say cell phones also have their down sides.

Long gone are the days of children waiting for the school bell to ring to rush home, finish homework and then ask mom to use the phone.

"I call probably about three people a day," said student Kaylyn Warren.

It's not her parents landline that she's using, Kaylyn Warren, 13, has a cell phone of her own.

"It gives me an electronic leash to be able to talk to her anytime we need to," said parent Jason Warren.

Some parents say the problem with constant access, is constant access. Parents can reach their children but so can others, anytime of the day. Sometimes this connection causes a disconnection from society and family.

"We took a road trip last year for vacation and the first thing my wife did was collect everyone's cell phones," said Jason Warren.

Some parents say cell phones can become a social wall. Children and young teens can become so attached to the people inside their phone that they're unable to build outside relationships, but Kaylyn says she's not overwhelmed with the temptation to text.

"I text every now and then but I'm just listening to music on it. I'm not shy, I try to meet all the people that I can," said Kaylyn Warren.

Officials say the issue with cell phones goes far beyond social separation. They say they're currently working on cases where people have contacted children meaning them harm.

"An adult sent an image of pornography to a child and his excuse was that he had the wrong number. Now whether that's true or not, I don't know," said Dougherty County Police Department Sergeant Chad Kirkpatrick.

This type of danger is something that the Warren family says they've encountered.

We had a couple texts come in from some kids that were inappropriate and my little one, she brought it right to us," said Jason Warren.

He immediately discussed the issue with the sending children's parents. He says when giving cell phones to young kids, parental interaction is the key to keeping the child safe.

"Anything that you can do on a computer on the internet you can now do on cell phones. Even on the undercover chats online on a computer they want you to use the cell phone because they want to make sure that you're real," said Sgt. Chad Kirkpatrick.

He says this is something for parents to keep in mind; the phone is now the computer on the go and any dangers that lurks inside your computer's monitor is being transferred to your child's hand.

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