Should Young Kids Have Smartphones?

According to Stanford University, 25% of kids get phones by age 10, and 75% get phones by age 12.

With each growing generation, children are becoming increasingly exposed to technological devices that consume every hour of every day. One day they get their first phone, and the next year they can’t get off it. It controls their emotions, actions, behavior, and physical and mental well-being. So why should something so detrimental to health be so popular with youth? It shouldn’t.

Most children, and even some parents, argue that phones are necessary for communication with parents who work long day jobs, or a child who travels alone and needs an immediate line for help. But even with these issues, there are better ways to communicate with your child, such as using devices like a smartwatch or a feature phone. 

The pandemic was the main cause of the rise of the use of devices, and after everything became online, it was “naive at this point to say wait until eighth [grade]” for a phone, says Catherine Pearlman, a clinical social worker quoted by The Washington Post. However, having a phone is a major responsibility many children cannot handle. Even mature, responsible tweens can face issues after having a phone that they wouldn’t have experienced without a phone. The outstanding negative factor of devices is, of course, social media. Social media is extremely controversial. Body image, mental health, dangerous trends, negative influence, and predators are all valid reasons to keep your children off the screen. Creating such negative images in their head at such a young age can harm their growth and development.  

A lot of the time, parents give their children phones starting off with strict control and rules revolving around screen time and use, however, as life carries on, they don’t keep up with the promises they made before, allowing their children to be exposed to immature, inappropriate content. A study recognized by Edarabia revealed, “60% of parents don’t make strict observance to their kids using gadgets.” Three-fourths of these kids are allowed to use their devices in their rooms, and most end up losing sleep to screen time. The common effects of using a device at a young age are lack of attention, cognitive delay, learning impairment, and a negative impact on literacy and academic success. It may not seem that a couple of hours of screen time can ruin a child, but the screen plays a mental game that soon becomes a reality. 

The last thing people worry about when it comes to devices is radiation and the impact it can have on their children. Dr. Anthony Miller from the University of Toronto School of Public Health recognized that mobile phones expose people to radio frequency of 2A, classified as “probably carcinogenic’ meaning it could be cancerous and detrimental to a young individual’s health. Parents may not realize, but the instant that they let their 10-year-old use their phone, their child was exposed to extremely dangerous radiation which can cause health problems in the future.

Obviously phones will continue to be a globally-used item by both children and adults, and newer generations will most likely be exposed to them earlier and earlier, but it does not mean they should be overlooked. There are ways to limit phone use in a mature and self-responsible way. Kids especially need influence from their parents who need to take more responsibility in protecting their children. Health- whether physical, mental, or emotional- should not be jeopardized because of a single, small device that shouldn’t be in the hands of a child.