Children and Mobile Phones in 2010

Photo by Sherry Chen

I had an interesting conversation at work the other day about the lack of land lines in the home and how it effects children. My co-worker was telling me that she was trying to teach her 4 year old how to dial 911 on her iPhone because she and her husband both owned mobile phones but didn’t have a landline. Being 28 and babyless a problem like this never occurred to me. She continued to talk about how many steps there can be when trying to dial 911 and some of the obstacles you have teach a child to avoid in order to call.

I pulled out my iPhone and began to count the number of steps it could take to dial 911, which varied anywhere from 6 to 10. It’s an interesting design problem to consider as it’s a very modern day problem. I couldn’t find a definitive number but I did find a CBS News article from earlier this year which said that 1 in 4 people have a cell phone and no landline. This seems like a low number to me, but there were only about 20,000 polled, I’m guessing from around the country.

Has anyone run into this problem in their own lives? Does anyone have any ideas of how a company like Apple could make it more simple for a child to dial 911? My only idea was to put 911 in your favorites section so that a child wouldn’t have to dial any numbers, they could simply hit the button. I know not everyone has an iPhone, but with the rise of “smart phones” this will be an issue that more and more people are going to be dealing with. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


November 16, 2010