When Kids and Cell Phones Make Sense – Medication Texting and Health Apps


In just five years, the number of kids with cell phones has shot up 68%, and 20% of six to 11 year-olds carry their own phones now, according to this research (pdf).

Six year-olds! With cell phones!

I’m no Luddite, but mobile phones in kindergarten?


Approximately half of my 11 year-old daughter’s friends have cell phones. Of that half, most of them walk home from school or otherwise spend small chunks of time independently, and the phones provide a measure of safety for the kids and peace of mind for their parents.

One of these children, though, uses her phone to text and call her *boyfriends* all day, four of which she’s gone through in the last two months.

These are only fifth graders, remember.

While I’m not going to stifle my daughters with overprotection or try to extend their childhoods beyond all reasonable measures, it’s also my job to make sure they don’t grow up too soon.

I just don’t want my 11 year-old kid texting boys all day.

Despite my ambivalence, though, she is getting a cell phone soon, for several reasons and partly because of her asthma.

In other words, my daughter never remembers to use her inhaler on her own. Last weekend during a slumber party, she missed her Flovent treatments both at night and in the morning.

A couple of weeks ago and during recovery from a bad cold and its related flaring, she forgot to use her bronchodilator during after-school play practice. By the time I picked her up in the early evening, the coughing had reached that harsh, cycling phase we all love so much.

How much would I love it if I could just text her a reminder instead?

Or if I knew she could reach me or even call 911 immediately, no matter where she is, if she needs medical help and no one’s taking her seriously?

Plus, health apps will be able to help her track and manage her symptoms when she gets older and her phone is Web-enabled. (Believe me, she’d love the chance to use those apps now, but an iPhone and a media plan are just not in the budget for an elementary schooler, I’m afraid.)

Check out these two asthma apps:

Asthma Journal
Symptom tracker integrated with Google Health

Created by a doctor, this one tracks personal symptoms and health history, but it also gives users the option of sharing that information anonymously, in order to help researchers track trends in symptoms and treatments across a large population.

Research link above via the Times.

18 responses to “When Kids and Cell Phones Make Sense – Medication Texting and Health Apps”

  1. Danielle says:

    I’m a little (lot) older than your kiddos, and back when I was her age, not even every adult had cellphones. Including my mom and dad. Because they are technology-resisters.

    One day in high school, I went to school even though I had undetected pneumonia and was flaring (did I mention I am freakishly keen?) By afternoon I was flaring so badly I was blue. The school called an ambulance but my mom was unreachable and my dad was out of the country on business. So they called my aunt who tried to convince everyone I was having a panic attack. It was scary and all around bad.

    After I got out of the hospital and my dad came back from his trip, the both of them went to get cellphones. Similar situations have arisen since then where a cellphone has meant that my mom was able to get to me when I actually needed her. Or, as is the case now that I live away, that she at least knows what’s happening.

    If it weren’t for me and my lungs though, I think my parents might still be cellphone free!

  2. Sara C. says:

    my 9 year old wants to know when she can get a phone…which is exceptionally funny, because she doesn’t even really use the regular HOUSE phone right now.

    I can totally see why you would want AG to have a phone, and I might consider it for M. too (of course, if that’s the case, then A would have to get one too…otherwise I would never hear the end of how “UNFAIR” it was)

  3. kerri says:

    Oh, trust me, you’ll love being able to call/text her for every little thing. My mom finds great joy in being able to tell me to do things wherever I am ;) .

    I’ve had a cell phone since I was fifteen or sixteen, but I only got mine because they made payphones a ridiculous $0.50 a call, and since my mom wanted me to check in with her all the time, she was sick of having to give me quarters–the cell phone is cheaper. I have a pretty cheap plan, and my mom pays for my voice and I pay for my texting. Other than that, I have nothing fancy, and my phone is pretty much DEAD lol.

    And, you know how it goes, once I had my phone, and my mobile-phone-challenged father got a blackberry from work, my mom wasn’t far behind ;) .

    My twelve year old cousin now has one (that she shares with her mom). One of the kids at my DAYCARE has one, which I think is ridiculous. WHY, if a child is still attending DAYCARE, where we are caring for them, do they need a cell phone? Some things, I do NOT understand.

    I’ve used both those apps. To be perfectly honest, NONE of the asthma apps on the iPod/iPhone really work for me–I keep track of my PFs, symptoms, and meds in a notes doc on my iPod though. I should really do a review post of all the ones I’ve tried.

  4. Sara C. says:

    I had another thought…I wonder how the increase of people getting rid of their land lines and only using cell phones impacts the amount of young kids having cell phones. I don’t have a problem with my daughter giving out the landline to friends, but I wouldn’t want her giving out my cell number to all her friends…KWIM? If we were to go completely cellular, I might rethink my decision NOT to get my girls a phone. If I were to get them a phone, it would be bare bones, calls only. Not even text enabled.

  5. Amy Anaruk says:

    Kerri–That’s my issue with 6 year–olds having them. They’re either with their parents, their teachers, or their caregivers, so who do they need to call? And def. do a review..

    Sara–The Sidekick would also love a cell phone, yet she HATES talking on the phone, too. Go figure.
    You’ve given me food for thought about MY landline, though–when both the girls have phones (eventually), I wonder if I’d give it up?

  6. Audrey says:

    Don’t I just know what you mean! :-)
    Our teen started nagging us about two years ago – to our credit we held out till she was 15. And even so we decided the best way to do it was to get her a prepaid phone.
    The NET10 phone we got her is a very nice feature phone, so she’s not too embarrassed to be seen with it. (I’m not kidding!)
    But at least she can’t use the use the phone too much without running out of minutes. It’s actually proven to be a good thing ’cause she’s getting quite good at managing her minutes – I do believe they get a bit of financial literacy by buying the prepaid card themselves and then making it last for the month.

    Anyway, might as well enjoy the benefits and try and see the bright side of everything. Cell phones too.

  7. Kelley says:

    Fortunately, I still have a few years before this issues comes up with my AG, but i still can’t get past the studies done in other countries and here by non-cell-company-paid people that indicate there may indeed be a link between brain tumors and cell phones…. yes, i know i’m a bit paranoid (or more than…)

  8. Sarah says:

    I only got a cell because my parents gave me one in my third year of university… I’m very much a product of Generation Y in that I’d rather communicate online or in person than over the phone.

    I’ve never used either of those apps because where I live, any cell service is stupid-expensive ($0.25/min for using the internet, $0.10/text, etc… I pay $50/month just so that I can have 200 talking minutes a month and caller ID), and I don’t really want to pay even more for my cell phone.

    Even if cell service was less expensive, I wouldn’t go cell-only, for a similar reason reason as why I keep an old-fashioned corded phone in my house: What if my power goes out and/or my cell is out of power and I flare?

  9. SnjMom says:

    I got my DD a cell when she was 9. For her it was a good choice. She doesn’t use the phone except to call me, her grandmother, and take photos. She knows if a text message goes in or out it costs money. I feel more comfortable knowing she has a phone she can use for emergencies. I know she will soon start using her phone for talking to friends. We will deal with the “texting’ when it starts.

  10. Katherine says:

    Begin a college kid with asthma(which is a new development), I’d say somewhat it might be better to be a little more laise faire. I feel like the age at which you should be having a cell phone is around the same age that you should be responsible enough (for the most part) to deal with remembering to take your own meds. Granted i got my first cell phone right around when I got my first job and shortly before I got keys to the family car. However, I had free run of the bus/light rail transit system before a phone.
    At some point, AG has to learn the consequences of forgetting to take her meds and doing that once or twice will teach you (speaking from allergy med experience). It’s also nicer to make these mistakes when mom can be there to pat you on the back and find your not empty, unexpired albuterol inhaler and make you a hot cup of tea and tell you it’s all going to be alright. I guess what i’m saying is don’t rely on technology to cripple learning how to deal with life on your own as an asthmatic. It’s much easier to learn your lessons while you are young and your parents are only a few minutes away to help you pick up the pieces.
    You don’t want AG to grow up to be like the girl living down the hall from me who is 23 still living in a dorm in grad school (like one that also houses freshman). Whose mother calls her every morning to wake her up, then a little while later to remind her to eat a good breakfast and take her meds, and then at night to remind her to take her meds again. I know it’s hard to let go, but I guess what i’m saying is moderation is really important :) .

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