Spoiler alert: The answer is no
I remember getting my first phone back in the day. A heavy, silver thing with a stubby little antenna – made me feel a bit like Captain Kirk, truth be told. No camera or hi-def screen on that baby. But, hey, it made and received calls when needed, so I was happy.
And I was 32.
Nowadays, kids as young as eight have their own phones.
According to recent stats, in the US, 56 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds have a phone. Sure, the majority of them are over 10 years old, but still, 56 percent? I find that crazy.
So, what’s the case for phones?
As parents, we all want our children to be safe. A text telling you your kid made it to school certainly can provide relief. And, yes, it’s convenient to give a quick call to say you’re running late and will be there to pick them up in 15.
Plus, giving your kid a phone will get them to stop complaining that “Everyone has a phone but me.” Believe me, that’s tempting.
But when you take a closer look at the consequences of putting a device in their hands, it’s hard to make a case for anyone under 13 having a phone. Check this out.
Cell phones – chiropractors love ’em. Spines? Not so much
Did you know that putting your head forward at an angle to look at your phone puts about 60 pounds of pressure on your spine, compared to the 10 or 12 that it’s usually under during proper alignment? No wonder your shoulders are tight!
Text neck, digital eye strain, cell phone elbow and thumb pain – these are just some of the physical issues that arise from being so connected to our mobile devices. Essentially any repetitive movement can lead to problems down the line, so why would you want to introduce that element any sooner than you have to?
And other problems aren’t just all in your head
Not only do phones mess with our mechanics, they affect our sleep. Phones and tablets emit blue light, which suppresses our body's ability to make melatonin. Melatonin production increases when the body knows it is time to go to sleep, but exposure to that blue light can interrupt our natural circadian rhythm. And if anyone needs good sleep habits, it’s kids.
Anxiety, self-esteem issues and depression are also linked to cell phones. Between the fear of missing out (FOMO), lack of sleep and cell phone addiction, it’s no wonder depression is on the rise in kids.
Plus, phones play havoc with our attention spans and short-term memory. Seriously, when’s the last time you had to recall someone’s phone number? Right?
Socially speaking, cell phones suck
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who is on their phone? Not very fulfilling is it? Phones lead to a lack of social interaction, whether you’re a kid or an adult.
Kids will argue it’s how they talk to their friends and coordinate outings, but it keeps them from actually speaking to each other, which is where you can pick up on things like social cues and body language. Making friends, interacting face-to-face, learning social skills – these things are all being lost as kids stare at their screens.
But, wait, it can get worse
Yes, poor spelling and grammar and sore necks are annoying, but things can get really serious when phones lead to cyber-bullying. Rumors and gossip have never been so easily shared to such large audiences. And the consequences can be tragic.
Worse grades, privacy concerns, distraction issues, physical and mental harm – I don’t mean to be a downer here, but the fact is phones can be a Pandora’s box of problems. Why open it before it’s necessary?
Sure, it’s cool to have the virtual world at your fingertips, but what about the real world outside your technology bubble?
Don’t let your kids’ wants overshadow their needs. Say no to the phone.