Here’s Tuesday’s Chicago Sun-Times front-page headline: “Cell Phones: Every Other Kid Has One.”
Then, Wednesday’s Sun-Times included this editorial: “Cell Phones for Preteens? No.”
Though I regularly agree with this editorial page, today I say: “no.”
Here’s why: In this month of non-stop discussion about health care reform, most of the talk is about how we will get coverage, and who will pay for it. Lost in this discussion is addressing the health crisis among our nation’s children that desperately needs solving now—by using all the means at our disposal.
You know the data: epidemic rates of diabetes and obesity among teenagers; sky-high rates of pregnancy among teenage girls who can’t support their babies; 25% of teenagers with some STD; too little exercise and time outdoors.
We could use those cellphones to address this crisis. Why not use these phones to communicate positive health messages and easy-to-implement prevention strategies; direct these children to helpful resources and community services; to encourage them to talk to others when they are considering unhealthy choices?
I haven’t heard about a project like this: has anyone else?
And while, on this beautiful summer evening, I love the image the Sun-Times presented, of Mom or Dad sticking their head out the front door and calling the kids, that’s just not sufficient to this evening’s need.