Over 23 million camera phones
will be sold in the United States this year. That's a staggering number, particularly given the quality of the images they produce can be less than exciting. So What?
If, by chance, your son or daughter is, or will be, the proud owner of one of those little gems, what happens if it finds its way to school?
If that's a question you haven't already answered, it's time to start pondering! Why? Because a camera that doesn't look like a camera can create a whole bunch of trouble along with some fuzzy digital photos. School Bans
Many schools ban the use of cellular phones in the classroom for a variety of reasons, but kids typically just turn them off and store them in their backpacks. "We haven't decided what our policy is going to be on camera phones," says the principal of a California high school. "We're in the process of updating our policy. Given the increased risk to personal privacy, we'd like to keep all camera phones off our campus, but state law protects a student's right to carry a phone, so it may be impossible to ban them outright."The Real Danger
In much of the San Francisco area, cell phone restrictions already include a ban on the use of camera phones for picture taking on school grounds, but that's obviously no guarantee they'll not be used. What happens if a fun-loving student sneaks his or her camera phone out of their backpack in the gym's locker room, and then, moments later, an embarrassing image of a student is flying around the Internet? Can You Say Lawsuit?
When asked of that's a likely scenario, an attorney gave this response, "Anyone can sue for anything. Winning is the reason you have courts with judges and juries." He went on to say that if the infringement took place on school property, the school and school district would be the primary targets of any lawsuit because of their deep pockets, but the parents of the student who took the photo and circulated it on the Web would almost certainly be listed as a party in the lawsuit.Potential for Trouble
And if that's not enough, Florida's Palm Beach County school board recently banned camera phones after students were caught using them to transmit test information in a high-tech cheating scheme.Forget the Camera, Keep the Cell Phone?
After the 1999 shooting deaths at Columbine High School and then the horrific tragedy of 9/11, few parents are willing to give up the added security cell phones offer a family, but camera phones add some new risks to the equation. So as you go shopping with your teenager for cellular service, you might want to consider buying them a nice digital camera in addition to a cell phone
. Then they can pack their phone while leaving the camera at home when they head off for school each morning!
Want to talk about it? To discuss camera phones and kids, visit our Photography Forum
, assisting amateurs and professionals since 1987!