How Young is Too Young for a Smartphone?

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How Young is Too Young for a Smartphone?

Sofia Nuñez, Editor

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A market research conducted by Childiwise in 2015, exposed that kids aged 5-16 spend and average of 6.5 hours staring at a screen daily, and a typical teenager can expect to spend 3 months a year staring at a screen. Mankind is surrounded by technology. Numerous technological advances are undoubtedly beneficial. Smartphones, tablets, computers, they are all man made objects with a life of their own, with countless functions that facilitate our day to day. However, we’ve started to lose balance, and escaping our virtual lives is now a challenge. In a world where technology is a strong force, depriving children from it might not be the wisest choice. This is were a tough question for parents emerges:  how young is too young for a smartphone? Parents must educate their children and themselves too. There are abounding things to learn from the social media age.

Screens are taking up most of our time and people don’t realize it. Gabriel Gutierrez, a 5th grader at TCS recently obtained his first iphone, and even though he is delighted, he is extremely conscious about the consequences of addiction. Gutierrez said that kids replace hobbies or sports for their phones. Additionally, according to The Guardian, children struggle to hold pencils properly because they had been playing with phones or tablets. While giving a phone should be a careful decision, parents can’t expect children to use it properly. Parent involvement is crucial for a healthy relationship with technology. Parents need to feel the authority to decide upon schedules, apps, etc. Involvement is essential and an opportunity for both to learn the correct management of situations.

While phones are powerful tools, they can be harmful if used irresponsibly. According to parentingni.com, grooming and cyberbullying are threats in communication apps. Most apps require you to be 13 or older, however, kids get past those requirements with fake information, additionally “1 in 5 young people have either sent or received sexual content of themselves.” Richard Newcomer is a teacher/parent at TCS and he expressed that the biggest risk of a young child owning a phone is “using social media in an improper way.” This is alerting to parents, but the only way to prevent it, is to develop a mature child with an informed mind. It is fundamental to recognize that no one knows their kids better than their parents, and there is no need to feel pressure just because other kids already own a phone.

Some people argue that this is natural and it´s the times changing. A blog called Nightzookeeper recently posted that if a child does not own a phone but his/her friends do, they will feel left out, upset, excluded and this will make their lives worse. But, this is what people are missing, how is it possible that  kids happiness depends on a screen? Prioritizing technology created an unbalance. If we decided to give every single kid a phone with no restriction, the rates of speech fluency, sleep at nights, and social interaction would decrease even more.

We need to talk about this dangers so we can have an educated society with digital intelligence. If we take the easy way out, and keep pretending that substituting our real life for our virtual life is okay, we will be committing a significant mistake. There is no number to answer the question of how old should a child be to get a smartphone, but rather loading them, and us,  with knowledge, this is what will make us realize, there is so much more to life than just a screen.