The Risks of Smart Phones

Children are at a greater risk than we believe from smart phones and social media!

The NEW YORK TIMES reports that children, especially girls (1 in 4) are deliberately harming themselves. This at a time when our society seems to be “child focused.” Many children are spending up to 9 hours per day on their phones, where other people are evaluating their appearance and words. Children are jockeying for a sense of status that is largely unattainable. This often results in a poor self-image and depression.

The average age a child a receives a smart phone is 10. These are powerful tools designed for adults! I question why a 10 year old “needs” a smart phone. I suggest that at age 10 they are NOT emotionally mature, and should not be given such a device. They are nearly impossible to monitor, and put your child at risk of interacting with complete strangers.

As a parent, it is not healthy and simply unnecessary to be in constant contact with your child. If you feel your child needs a phone for emergency purposes, use a “flip phone” and severely limit the minutes purchased!

Once you give your child a smart device, it is nearly impossible to take it away (even for an hour). Help you child and give yourself a favor, delay giving your child a smart phone until they are mature enough to appreciate the responsibilities the use of such a device entails, and appreciate the social pressures that they will face.

Managing Electronics and Media

Do not kid yourselves! Managing electronics and media with children is one of the most challenging issues facing parents today. Studies universally show that overuse of electronics is “harmful” to children. In our opinion, one of the primary impacts is they negatively impact a child’s ability to develop relationships. Children lose sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and empathy.

Many parents have a reactive approach to managing phones/iPads/games. They wait until they are fed up, then overreact. This generally results in conflict/yelling and getting upset. A better approach would be to develop a plan in advance of losing your patience. Try to involve your child in a discussion involving time limits, times of use/non use, etc.. This will not be easy, but if you can get buy in from your child, the chances of having a workable plan will be greatly increased.

Consider giving your child an outdoor experience like Kingsley Pines Camp, or Outward Bound, where electronic are NOT available.

Please share your your experiences and input.