Been thinking about this for a long time – years in fact, as teacher, but it’s taken some things happening to us as a family to convince me that smartphones should not be given to children until they’re really old enough to understand the risks associated with them.
I’m not saying that technology doesn’t have a part to play in the development or the learning of children – it does (though probably not as much as I thought it did 10 years ago), nor that children should never see a screen in school. I just think that the potential benefits of having a smartphone are outweighed, by quite a long way, by the damage they can cause.
Phones cause self-image problems, facilitate bullying, are a conduit for sharing pornography, hate imagery and they pose a personal safety risk. I would argue that most children are unable to really understand the nature or extent of those risks. What’s more, phones distract children from learning when they’re in school – and they stop families from talking together when they’re at home. I’m not sure that there are many upsides – what positive things do children actually use their phones for? Do any scattered examples of ‘great things my kid has done with their phones’ counterbalance the great harm that phones are doing elsewhere?
Following our discovery that our eldest (year 8) was chatting online with strangers (despite lots of discussions about the dangers of this, and other online risks). So, we took her phone from her – with the intention of giving it back in 6 months. That time is nearly up – and we’ve decided that we’re not going to give it back, ever.
Since we took the phone away she’s been a much happier person – she’s sleeping better, doesn’t spend hours covering her face with make up and pouting at her phone, she spends less time having feuds with others, and much less time worrying about her appearance. She’s playing computer games again, and reading many more books than she did before – in other words she’s free to be a child.
So, anecdotally (yeah, I know) it seems they can thrive without them, and if we all agreed that kids would be better off with a http://amzn.to/2gw307p so that we can call them if we need to, I hope that lots of similar problems would diminish. So, why can’t we just take the phones off them?