Setting clear boundaries around the use of social media and smartphones is a primary part of parenting these days. From telephone to mobile phones, the new era of the Internet has reached every doorstep. Smartphones are a huge necessity in today’s time. Through iPhones, we can connect with our loved ones over facetime, chat with friends on messenger, etc. Mobile phones do provide us with an extra sense of security and ease. In an emergency, having a smartphone can perhaps allow you to save lives and even get out of trouble. Apparently, children aren’t aware of the negative effects of using a mobile phone. Unfortunately, kids these days gain ownership of a device at a young age compared to a few decades back. They do not have the self-control to not misuse the perks of technology. So what age should a child get a cell phone? And how do you decide that your kid is finally ready to have a smartphone?
Grab yourself a cup of coffee, we are going to dive in deep!
What Age Should A Child Get A Cell Phone?
Before even jumping on to get a smartphone for your kid, here are some of the questions you must answer.
- Is there a need for keeping in touch with your kid while at school?
- Do you trust that your kid will not misuse the iPhone during class hours?
- Is your kid mature enough?
- How responsible is your child?
- Does your child understand the safety issues, like texting while driving
- Is your child on social media?
- Do they understand the consequences of social media stalkers, i.e not sharing information with strangers over social media?
- Do your kids really need an iPhone or a smartphone?
If the phone is just for communication purposes with the parent or teacher, then consider giving your child a phone without internet and social media applications. That can easily prevent many negative effects of mobile phones on children.
So, how young is too young for a phone?
Bill Gates, shares a rule that he set for his kid’s usage of smartphones, i.e they have to be in high school to have an iPhone. He did not give his kids a smartphone until they were 14 years old.
A study figured out that the latest kids already gained access to a smartphone by the age of 10. And they had social media accounts including Facebook and Instagram by the age of 12.
These days, having a smartphone has become a taboo rather than a necessity. I am shocked to see kids aged 8 to 10 have social media accounts. Several mobile apps collect user data and also sell inappropriate products to kids.
It is essential you advise your child about all such negative consequences before giving them an iPhone. Some parents are unaware of these consequences themselves are super comfortable handing over their phones to keep their kids busy.
Allowing young children to own a smartphone with internet and social media access from a very young age can have severe negative consequences.
Here are some of the effects of mobile phones on children.
7 Side Effects Of Using A SmartPhone On Children
1. Negative Addictions
Smartphones can have harmful addictions on young minds. Various games and apps keep children hooked on their smartphones for hours. Moreover, the power of social media is also overpowering their young minds. I have come across children aged 8 and 9 having social media accounts and actively posting content online.
They are desperate for likes from strangers or social media stalkers as for them it’s just a competition on which of the friends can secure the highest likes on the photos.
Youngsters also end up striking conversations with strangers putting their safety at risk. Here’s how to keep your kid safe from social media stalkers.
2. Exposure to Inappropriate Things
Kids can easily understand the difference between a cell phone having an internet connection and a smartphone without a connection.
Kids are far advanced in operating or using the internet these days. Some parents give freedom to their children to watch whatever they like on the internet, assuming they use smartphones only for educational purposes.
What these parents fail to understand is providing the facility of internet opens doors to a massive galaxy of information. Some of this information is good whereas some are dangerous. I would like to share a real story with you.
The first case is of a parent and the 11-year-old boy. The father worked in an office whereas the mother was a homemaker. The mother would often allow the child to access and use the internet on her phone so that she could peacefully complete her work or watch her TV shows. The father too allowed the same as he didn’t want to be disturbed after a tiring day of work.
One fine day, the child came across a pornographic website on the father’s phone. The child’s curiosity led him to watch pornographic videos. He somehow figured out how to access that website from his mother’s phone.
After a few days, the child tried to recreate the activity and misbehaved at school with a female classmate. On counseling, the teachers realized what the real story is.
11 years is definitely not the age when your child should get a cell phone.
One of the ultimate ill effects of mobile phones on children is exposure to inappropriate things over the internet. Parents must take special care when handing over mobile phones to kids. Try to activate parental lock over apps like Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc. that might show inappropriate content for your kids.
Technology and smartphones were supposed to connect us and bring us closer. But in reality, social media is killing real-life relationships. Mobile phones cause children to get disconnected from the world leaving them socially isolated.
Children spend several hours playing games or watching videos on their smartphones. They don’t have time for face-face communication with their family members or even siblings.
A lot of exposure to the digital world makes kids annoy easily if someone tries to strike a conversation with them or distracts them.
The effects of mobile phones are not only on children but also parents and grandparents.
For instance, in multi-generation families, grandparents long to spend time with their grandkids. But thanks to parents providing smartphones at a very young age, children isolate themselves and don’t spend time with their grandparents.
4. Not Interested To Play Outdoors
Due to the vast ocean of data available online, children these days lose their innocence by the age of 12. Smartphones and technology have the biggest impact on childhood.
Back in our days, we spent hours playing outdoors with our friends, riding our bicycles, playing in the rain, and just having the time of our lives. But now, mobiles are life for kids.
When the first rain pours down, rather than going out and enjoying it, children are busy clicking pictures and uploading them online.
Rather than playing real-life football, children are busy playing virtual games or video games indoors. Here are fun ways to motivate your kids to play outdoors.
5. Unhealthy Eating And Sleeping Habits
Obesity in children at its peak, thanks to the growth in digitalization.
Using smartphones from a young age also affects your child’s health. Apart from damaging their cognitive growth, it also affects their physical development.
It restricts their physical activity to a great extent. Kids sit down at one place for hours browsing on their phone. They don’t receive enough exercise or physical movement.
Moreover, kids keep munching junk food as they spend time browsing their iPhones. These unhealthy habits cause kids to gain weight leading to obesity and other illness.
Prolonged addiction to using smartphones can also impact the child’s sleeping habits.
6. Impact on Academics and Performance
Smartphones also have a drastic effect on the academic performance of the kids. Their creativity is affected. Whenever a child is assigned homework, they google it and copy it down.
There are no more real challenges for children. There is no creativity required to crack a math problem or a science quiz. Answers to all sorts of questions are available on the internet.
There is a lack of thought processes involved that can hamper your child’s intelligence. Children also don’t complete their homework or study for tests sincerely as they are busy spending time online.
7. No Value for Money
Handing over a valuable thing to a child at a young age is a recipe for disaster. While young, these children have shallow maturity level. They don’t understand the value of money or the importance of privacy.
For kids, it’s easy to get a smartphone. All they have to do is act stubborn or persistently irritate their parents. They keep demanding the latest phones which sometimes are outside the budget range of their parents and cause stress in the family.
Showing Parental Involvement In Your Child’s Use Of SmartPhone
To limit the negative effects of mobile phones on children, parents must step in and set foundations for smartphone usage.
- Teach your kid the importance of face-to-face communication.
- The online world can bring several challenges for your child. As a parent/mentor, you must educate your kids not to end up doing things out of peer pressure.
- Set boundaries and do not let them access social media channels until they are 14 years old.
- Teach your kids ethics like honestly, and integrity so that they don’t lie to you about misusing the smartphone.
- Parental supervision is recommended when kids are chatting or using online messaging services.
- Have only limited apps to avoid unnecessary access to information.
- Children under the age of 14 must be recommended to share passwords with parents.
- Have parental control over browsing options on the phone.
- Track your child’s search history to make sure they are not heading into inappropriate things online.
The right age for a child to get a cell phone should be in high school, around 14 years old.
Allowing your children to own smartphones before that at a young age can be risky. However, with a proper check, parental control, and lockdown on unnecessary apps and websites, phones can be beneficial too.
Children can learn new concepts, gain more knowledge, and expand their understanding through the proper use of mobile phones limiting their negative effects. They can also use various e-learning apps to clear the ideas that they find difficult to understand.
Thus, the answer to the questions like how young is too young for an iPhone or should kids have cell phones depends on how well you set the boundaries, how mature is the kid, and the amount of freedom that the child receives.
If you liked this article, share it with your friends and family! At what age did your child get a cell phone? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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