Child Calls 911 More Than 400 Times, Should You Let Your Children Play With Your Cell Phone?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on October 15, 2010

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Should you let your children play with your cell phone? If you think that’s another harmless fun activity for kids, you need to read this. In a rather bizarre incident, a five-year-old child named ‘Alex’ enjoying Thanksgiving dinner near Owen Sound, called 911 more than 400 times over the long weekend.

400 calls -that too to 911. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? The Owen Sound Police believe the child’s parents may have thought the phone was inactive. But even deactivated cellphones and pay-as- you-go phones can still reach 911 dispatch.

The broader question here is – whether children should be allowed to use cell phones? Isn’t it parents’ responsibility to ensure that their child is not misusing (whether accidentally or not) their phone? While some people would be quick to write off this incident saying that “Kids are after all kids”, I believe there’s time for some serious retrospection here.


What’s unfortunate about this incident is that this kid unknowingly tied up 9-1-1 emergency resources for several hours. Though the police made repeated requests to speak to Alex’s parents and to stop calling 9-1-1, Alex decided not to budge. The Owen Sound Police further believe that “The probability exists that the child’s parents may genuinely believe the phone is inactive, however, caregivers must realize that deactivated cell phones are capable of dialling 9-1-1, even if it’s a pay-as-you-go phone with no balance of time available.”
However, not all kid calls to 911 end up as such horror stories for the police. In March, a 7-year-old boy, identified as Carlos, called 911 from a locked bathroom as armed robbers held his parents at gunpoint, sheriff’s dispatcher Monique Patino fielded the call. The intruders fled once they learned Carlos had called 911. Clearly, it’s difficult to adopt a “one size fits all” approach to these kinds of scenarios.


On the other hand, I’m all for imposing restrictions so that children don’t end up misusing cell phones. There are several such monitoring tools available on all leading platforms including Android, iOS and Blackberry but there are not enough takers. The other approach is to make parents responsible for their children (haven’t I heard that before) misusing cellphones. Either way, it isn’t the easiest job in the world.


Own Sound City police has encouraged not to give activated or deactivated cell-phones to children to use as a toy. And I couldn’t agree more on that.  What’s your opinion on children playing with their parents cellphones? Do you prohibit your children from messing around with your mobile phone? Or do you think it’s not that big a deal. Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. >. Follow > by: RSS>, Twitter >, >, or Friendfeed >

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