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Kids and Their Phones
05 Mar 17

Kids and their phones

Kids and their phones - the good the bad and the do’s and don’ts. 

The cell phone is perhaps one of the best aids to peace of mind when you have young children that are out of the house. The big debate is – when do you get them their first cell phone contract and how do you manage use and expectations? 

The upside of equipping your kids with a phone is obvious, if your child is out- you are seconds away from knowing where they are and what they are doing (mostly). If you were smart you will have downloaded some kind of tracking before you handed the phone over, and for younger kids (under 15) some kind of nanny app where you can monitor conversations is a must. In today’s ultra- connected world there are some people you don’t want them connected to. 

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Research collected from various sources on growingwireless.com revealed the following statistics about phone use in children: 
  • 56 percent of children, age 8 to 12, have a cell phone. 
  • 60 percent of families who have provided a cell phone to their child did so between the ages of 10 and 11. 20 percent provided their 8 to 9 year olds with a cell phone. 
  • Among children 8 years of age and younger, 21 percent use smartphones. 
  • 69 percent of families with young children under 8 years old have a smartphone 
  • 38 percent of children under 2 used a mobile device for media. 

So if you have kids you will be facing a myriad of phone issues; some points to ponder are: Health: The jury is still out on this one but potential radiation induced sickness is not something you want to be ambivalent about. Cell phones work by using radio waves and some experts say they can be harmful, especially to young children. Experts say longer studies are needed, indeed decades to get conclusive evidence of the potential harm phones cause. The obvious response is to restrict usage in young children.

Sleep disruption: This is a hot topic and t also applies to adults. If your child takes their phone to bed they may go on a text or social media fest and not get enough sleep. 

Driving while texting: This is a massive problem, new drivers are a risk on the road even when they are fully engaged, put a cell phone in their hands and they become missiles. It is estimated that a teen is 400 times more likely to have an accident while using a cell phone. Install an app that prevents your teen form using a phone while moving in a car. 

Getting too sociable: Kids are all about social media and while it can be positive, you and your child needs to be aware of "cyber bullying" and how to deal with it when it happens. If the "location sharing" feature is enabled on the phone it may give you peace of mind but it has a downside - anyone can locate them- which is not good in today’s world. Speak to them about unwanted attention and the dangers of talking to strangers on their phones.

The decision to give your child a phone should take into account their age, maturity, circumstances, behavior and responsibility levels. The child should be monitored closely to ascertain their use of the phone. Are they using it responsibly or are they becoming addicted? Yes, addiction is a massive problem, even among adults.

According to Psych.com research has revealed that there are a few adolescent personality traits associated with Internet addiction, which is closely related to smartphone addiction. These traits include: 

  • High harm-avoidance: These individuals tend to be worrisome, fearful, pessimistic, and shy. 
  • Altered reward dependence: The teen becomes dependent on rewards associated with the internet or cell phone as opposed to natural rewards such as spending time with friends and family, getting good grades, or partaking in hobbies. · 
  • Low self-esteem and cooperation with authority 
  • Decreased brain connectivity in parts of the brain that regulate emotions, decision-making, and impulse-control
  • An increased likelihood to consume alcohol and use tobacco, and to have poor dietary habits · 
  • Increased levels of social loneliness 

It is clear that handing over a phone to a child requires a huge amount of thought and monitoring. It is not something you do without considerable monitoring and ground rules in place.

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