Deciding if kids are responsible enough to have a cell phone isn’t always an easy decision to make. It’s even harder to teach children some basic rules of owning a cell phone, as well as responsibilities that come with having a cell phone. Cell phones are expensive to buy with expensive monthly payments, and they also make it easy for kids to perform bad behaviours behind their parent’s back. Therefore the issue we’re discussing today is about whether children under 12 years of age should be using electronic devices at such a young age.
My contention is that young children using electronic devices should be more strictly regulated, as it will affect their health and learning. Although there are considerable number of reasons behind this topic, the most important reasons for tightening children’s use of electronic devices are as follows.
Firstly, children using electronic devices can cause addictions and delayed body development. A source from huffingpost.com outlines that technology restricts movement, which can result in delayed physical and mental health development, research shows that one in three children now enter school with delayed body development, and one in eleven children aged 8-18 years are addicted to technology. John Ratey, a doctor at Harvard, explained in his book, titled Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, that the advantages of playing are not limited to being physically fit and socially comfortable. Even 10 minutes of physical activity changes the way the brain functions. In addition, exercise normally makes people feel better because it “builds and conditions the brain.”
This leads to my second point, where children could underperform on tests and exams and perform worse than usual on their academics. lifehack.org discovered that kids consider multi-tasking to be cool when they have to do homework. It also states that kids checking their Facebook and other social media accounts is just a distracted process. Studies have shown that it takes 4 times longer to recognise each new activity, than if you are just concentrating on one task. Researchers from Boston College found that students from developing countries such as China scored better in math, science and reading than students from the U.S. and other developed countries whose children are overexposed to technology.
Thirdly, children will interact less frequently with people around them. While parents who feel stressed out and exhausted most of the time, will simply just hand their kids a tablet or a smart phone containing a bunch of “educational” apps while they go and relax. According to doctor of psychology Mari Swingle, this is due to the fact that when a child is staring at a screen, they tend to block out the physical environment around them. It means, for example that they’re not learning as much language from their parents because they’re not into the conversation, or they’re missing out all those dialogues they should have had at the first place. Therefore this is the parents’ responsibility to attempt to make their kids be engaged in the conversation.
emgingtech.com states an advantage of kids using electronics is that they can use social networking tools such as Facebook and Instagram to socialise with friends on the internet. However, because social networking is highly addictive towards children, a “heads down nature” will occur, which means people staring down at their phones while walking on the streets or during a ride on public transport or in a car. This will increase the chances of them requiring to wear glasses or an accident such as a car crash. Furthermore, kids may be exposed to harassment or even cyber bullying. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying can happen anywhere and anytime and causes psychological, emotional and physical stress. According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation, over half the number of youths have been bullied online, more than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online, and well over half of them do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.
In conclusion, I believe that children aged under twelve using electronic devices especially smart phones must be strictly regulated. One possible solution to this is to simply give them Nokia phones, which are cheap, simple to use, durable and tough. This is an ideal way of preventing children from being part of the “heads down nature”, but providing the need for them to communicate with their friends and families. If you really insist that children have the right to own a smart phone, alternatively you could set a list of rules for them. You can jot down rules such as ‘I will not text or make phone calls after 9pm’, or ‘I will not bring my cell phone to the family dinner table’. You may also make the consequences clear if he/she violates the guidelines. The simpler the rules are the less conflict will develop. After all, no matter a child own a smart phone or not, kids need the time when they’re using electronics to interact and build strong relationships with their friends, families and neighbours, a smart phone might provide entertainment for them, but it can’t take over real social and emotional connections. Thank you.