Friday, March 11, 2005


I was completely shocked to read in Disconnected kids: Children without a phone at home, that 4.3 million children in the United States don't have telephones at home. The thought of going without a phone wouldn't even cross my mind. Growing up I wasn't allowed to use the phone without permission from my parents and when I was allowed it was only for a short amount of time. So, phones aren't necessarily needed for children to just talk to their friends (I know that I could have gone without calling my best friend when I would see her the next day in class). But what about when a child has a question to ask a fellow classmate, or needs to work on a group project out of class. There's no simple way to contact them without a phone other than going over to their house. I was also shocked to see that of the 4.3 million 85% of them did not own a computer at home. Now although this is a large number of them, I was more surprised to think that of the 4.3 million, 15% of them DID own a computer at home. In my head, I would think that it would be more important to have a phone in the house than a computer. Obviously for school work to type up essays, a computer would be useful, but a child could have this facility at a local library or school. A phone seems to be important for more aspects of a person's life (including the rest of the family). Maybe there are other justifications to having a computer over having a phone that I'm not seeing. But as my roommate said when I told her about this article "Isn't it like a rule to have a phone at home???!!!???"


  1. I was also surprised that there were people who own computers but not a telephone. What are they doing with those computers? Without a phone they can't even go online, unless they've got the money for high-speed access. I guess those computers must be used primarily for typing, recordkeeping, or playing games.

    I wonder if some flaw in the study might be omitting people who have cellphones instead of traditional telephones? There are some people who are totally wireless - I was when I lived in Japan. Having a cellphone and broadband Internet in my apartment was actually cheaper there than having a phone line put in.

  2. I do know several people that lived in cooperative, communal situations and one person who lived on an American Indian reservation (yes, only one person, which is really not even enough to make a stereotype, but I'm doing it anyway--smile). It was expressed to me that in those living situations it isn't always necessary to have a phone in every household. There is not enough communication with the world outside the community to justify the expense and the ideals of the community place face-to-face interations above telephone (i.e. people would rather walk a block to talk to someone than have the "convenience" to call them). This is not to say that reservations or communes are not isolated (some are), that other issues of racism etc. aren't involved (they often are), or that poverty isn't an issue (it often is). This is just to say that at least sometimes this isolation is chosen, that phone use is sometimes much less important than we view it, AND this is at least one way it would make sense to have a computer but not a phone.