Smartphones are ubiquitous, and for that reason, children want one. After all, if they see you using one, it must be good, right? In fact, they see everyone using smartphones, so it’s only natural that youngsters will be attracted to the idea of having a phone themselves. And then of course there is the limited time that you may give them to watch something or play with something on your phone, only feeding the interest and desire to have one for themselves. And finally, they begin to see their friends and peers with them, and now you are swimming against the tide. But remain vigilant, as here are 7 very good reasons why holding back on giving your child a smartphone is a wise decision indeed.
With a smartphone, even a smartphone with parental blocks, kids can almost literally access anything. And let’s face it, at their vulnerable age, there is a whole mountain of stuff that you really don’t want them to access. But that’s not all. Once your kid has a smartphone, people other than yourselves now have access to your child through a number of channels.
Every parent understands that fighting to maintain a semblance of control is an ongoing battle with young people, especially as they reach those difficult teenage years. Yet holding back on a smartphone is one of the last cards that you hold.
“Many parents will feel a sensation of a loss of control once they cede to the demands of their son or daughter to have a smartphone. From that point on, no matter how hard you push, that is a huge element of control that will never come back while the phone is in reach,” advices Gillian Shepherd, a psychologist at Writemyx and Nextcoursework.
Developing real social skills
No matter how many people argue that smartphones can be an immensely sociable device, the reality is that the type of social development it supports is absolutely not the same as the social skills that are required in a non-virtual world. And young people are still in the process of learning that socialisation that will hold them in good stead for the rest of their lives. The complete intervention of a smartphone could seriously hamper the completion of this real-world social development.
Maintaining social interaction
Similarly, there is a huge, and completely sensible fear that smartphones are damaging real human social interactions – and we are not just talking about with young people either. Once someone retreats into their online world it is very difficult to call them back. Not only do real-world social interactions need to be learnt, they must be regularly practised too. Smartphones eat into that time and practise.
They are addictive
Smartphones are incredibly addictive, for adults and kids alike. How many people do you know that you could categorise as a smartphone addict? Kids are especially vulnerable to addiction, so placing something in their hands which has all the hallmarks of a classic addictive habit is surely not a good idea, right?
It messes with their schoolwork
And with addiction breeds an inability to focus attention on other tasks. One such task that is likely to feel the detrimental impact of increased smartphone use is schoolwork. Once something begins to interfere with your child’s education, it really is time to sit down and think.
“There is an abundance of research to suggest that, even though it is true to extent that smartphones can assist in your child’s education, often the phone itself detracts from doing the task at hand. The reality is the temptation with a smartphone is just too great to focus on one activity,” argues Susan DeWitter, an education writer at Brit student and Australia2write.
It takes away from family time
Another important activity that is bound to suffer from smartphone usage is that all-important family time. Family time is crucial for fostering solid, loving family relationships, and is a time that should be perceived as precious by all those involved in it. In fact, family time should be sacrosanct, and a smartphone is an immediate danger to it, not only because it will infringe on the time itself, but will often become a source of conflict too.
Katrina Hatchett is a lifestyle blogger at Academic Brits with a particular interest in the art of communication. She is a regular writing contributor at Origin Writings, as well as a blogger at PhD Kingdom.