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Kids oppose calls for cell phone restrictions

Date Posted: 2008-03-07

A new study shows Okinawa high school students use their cell phones far too often, and school principals and Parent-Teacher Association officials want to put a stop to the excessive use.

Students, understandably, are vigorously opposed to any rules impeding their phone use. “Please don’t make any strict rules for our using cell phones,” a student pleads. The high school principals association and the PTA counter “we have to make rules for cell phones, both for at school and at home. We have to look after the morals progress of our children.”

Officials say they worry about high school students using cell phones to set up meetings with strangers, which often lead to trouble such as relationships including prostitution. A principal says cell phones are known to be the cause of family strife.

The survey, which encompassed about one-third of the youngsters in Okinawa, found 94.1% have their own cell phones. At the junior high school level, more than half—52.1%--say they’ve been using their own cell phones since they were 13~14 years of age. By age 17 and high school senior status, the cell phone ownership level climbed to more than 97% of the students, who they say use cell phones at least three hours per day.

Text and email are popular features with 21% of the students surveyed, with nearly 14% saying they send 60-70 messages a day. Those firing off 30 or more messages a day amounted to 36.9% of the respondents. A bit more than 21% say they use their cell phones for making telephone calls, while almost 18% say the phones are used for listening to music.

The issue of girls using cell phones to arrange prostitution dates worries the Okinawa High School PTA Union Chairman. Seihiro Nishime says “children are always against adults if we force them to do something, and they don’t listen.” He proposes group sessions after letting the kids discuss how to manage their phones among themselves, and “then we’ll discuss it to find out what the merits of their ideas are.”

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