Children and the microphone

Since singing with a microphone has become widely popular and even indispensable in certain music genres, one needs to ask to what extent it is suitable for children's singing. The question therefore is: Should children sing with a microphone?
The answer is yes, they can, however not before they reach a certain level of singing development and before they have their voice under control. It is not rare, however, to encounter the completely opposite case. The microphone is used as a reliable amplifier of (not only) children's voices as it is assumed that their tiny voices could not cope with even a small room. It is true that children's voices are often tiny an not very strong, but if these children were given the fundamentals of voice technique instead of the almighty microphone, you might be surprised how resonant their voices would become. The only result you can achieve with the microphone is indeed a stronger sound. Nonetheless, it adds nothing more in terms of intonation, dynamics, expression, and numerous other aspects which are part of a proper vocal performance.
The uninformed public prevailingly believes that vocal technique is unnecessary if playback technology is available. A microphone with loudspeakers in fact substitutes the two soundboards engaged in acoustical singing - the head and the chest. It eliminates the need of a proper voice setting. Why then torture children with any singing training if a microphone can do the trick? This, however, is a bad view.
A microphone can indeed be of great help if used properly. It does amplify your voice, and with a good playback monitoring it gives you the opportunity to hear yourself, but at the same time it uncovers and magnifies any minor deviation off the key which could have remained either hidden or at least suppressed in a hall or a room with good acoustics.
There is yet another danger in the belief that a microphone will do all the work for you. It is a frequent case that a student who has already been singing quite well, but has no experience with a microphone, forgets everything s/he has learnt so far in a single instant while holding a microphone, and begins to sing through the throat instead of using a diaphragm support. Singing with a microphone does require a slightly different style than acoustic singing. The key difference is in the extent of the voice support and the different proportion of chest and head resonance, yet it still needs to be based on a good vocal technique.
Children singing with a microphone without sufficient previous vocal technique training get caught in a vicious circle. The microphone, sufficiently amplifying their voice, will not force them to use a properly set voice which is a requirement for an intonation that is physiologically correct and for voice dynamics. Any out of tune notes noticed through the playback monitoring are compensated with all sorts of allowed or forbidden aids, particularly by engaging the throat. The throat is involved in any changes in the dynamics of the voice. At best, these children end up stagnating, with their singing neither worsening, nor developing; at worst, their capacity to sing in tune gradually deteriorates and they develop voice problems.

My personal preference is that the children always sing without a microphone wherever possible.
I do admit that a microphone is a necessity in certain music genres as it provides the voice distortion indispensable for these genres. Yet, it deprives the children of the one thing that makes their singing beautiful - the child-like nature of their voices encompassing a good deal of simplicity, purity, and innocence.
A microphone is definitely appropriate in a very large space where the voice would not be strong enough, or in those genres which inherently involve the microphone distortion.
It is however disputable whether these genres should involve children at all. There are certainly individual songs even in these categories, in which the music and lyrics are suitable for any age group. However, I strongly oppose certain aggressive arrangements of musical or pop songs performed by children, particularly if the children mimic a similarly aggressive interpretation by the adult performer. This may clearly vary depending on the child's age, but a twelve-year-old girl physically and vocally mimicking her x-year-old idol is far from a delight for either the soul or ear of refined listeners; and last but not least far from beneficial for the girl's vocal organs.