When parents talk about giving their kid a cell phone, most of the time we are assuming that they are teens, right? Wrong! The majority of kids are getting their phones a lot of earlier than you would suspect. Findings from Influence Central’s 2016 Digital Trends Study revealed how the role of technology influences children today and that they are gaining ownership of their own devices at a younger age. The average age now for getting a first phone is 10-years-old. "While not many parents have embraced the ability to use Smartphones’ GPS capabilities to track down their kids, the number who has used this function doubled from 7 percent in 2012 to 15 percent in 2016." The report found that kids use their phones for social media. About 50 percent of those parents surveyed reported that their children created social media accounts before the age of 12. There is something wrong when children are walking around stuck on their electronic devices at such an early age. "Mom, can I have a cell phone?" The answer should be a resounding "No" and here are 5 reasons why.
They will lose the art of communication.Adults who are always communicating by text are losing the ability to converse with others. What happens with kids who don't know any better? Today we see kids on the playground, at school or in restaurants texting. They reach out to friends via text or through social media, not by chatting with them in person, even if they are in the same room. The Millennials view a like, comment or online message as a means of meaningful communication and that is why they feel the need to always be “connected.” What is going to happen to the next generation?
They are too irresponsible.How are you going to trust a 10-year-old with a phone that has internet access? There are applications that you can use to monitor their devices, but this is not 100 percent. Kids are online at night and it opens them up to dangers. There are not any hard-set rules of what age is appropriate for kids to own a phone, it is up to the parents. However, most likely, a tween is not going to be responsible and follow the rules that you set. "They can create text, images and videos that can be widely distributed and uploaded to websites instantly. Parents really need to consider whether their kids are ready to use their phones responsibly and respectfully," Common Sense Media shared. When you give kids a cell phone, you are giving them a powerful tool.
Parents can't be everywhere.CNBC reported that the rise of children being connected on social media continues to grow and adult supervision has waived. "In 2012, 49 percent of parents reported having strict limits on where and when their kids could use their electronics." There are more worries for parents. The rise of unmonitored texting is feeding the problem with sexting. The Journal Pediatrics found "teens who sexted were not more likely to have multiple sexual partners, use drugs or alcohol before sex or not use birth control." Another study by Drexel University found that 30 percent of those surveyed admitted sending photos in their sexts and 60 percent of them didn't know that it's considered child pornography. "They had no idea what the consequences were," said Diana Graber, co-founder of CyberWise.org who asked her students about sexting photos of themselves. "I mean that was a complete surprise to literally all 28 kids, so it occurred to me that no one's ever bothered to tell these kids they couldn't do that."
It makes them unsocial.We need to teach kids healthy social skills like looking people in the eye and helping them to engage with others. As with communication, social skills will tank if kids get onboard too early with their cell phones. Knowing how fast they can text or respond to an email will not help them in social situations at school or in life. When it comes to small talk, that is going to be lost as well. Melissa Ortega is a child psychologist at New York’s Child Mind Institute and shared with the Huffington Post that kids are using electronic devices as an avoidance strategy. She also noticed many of her clients could not initiate interactions. "They don’t have as much experience doing it because they’re not engaging in it ever. They always have something else going on." If your kids have phones, push against the trend and teach them that they need to socialize with others.
There are health risks.Children are at a greater risk for bodily damage that results from radiation given off by wireless devices, which could cause cancer, reported WebMD. Kids are at a higher risk for developmental issues because the radiation from the phone will penetrate the brain tissue. "One study found that a cell phone call lasting only two minutes causes brain hyperactivity that persists for an hour in children," Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, a New York Times best-selling author told parenting.com. "Holding a cell phone near your head is like holding a low-powered microwave oven close to your brain," she added. Additionally, kids are developing hunchbacks and curved spines due to leaning over their phones and it's being dubbed "text neck."
There are valid reasons to give kids cell phones. For example, they may need help and having a phone could be a lifesaver. As much as this is important, the risks of overexposing them to the world too soon could be equally as frightening.