At what age should a child be given a smartphone?
This is a modern dilemma. Should you give your kids smartphones or keep them away from them as long as possible? This question is almost in every parent that at what age should a child be given a smartphone?
If you are a parent and thinking that giving your child a smart phone is like handing him a potty that will expose all the evils of the world to your child and your child’s whole life. Life will be affected, so you can be forgiven.
The shocking headlines published every day regarding the possible negative effects of smartphones and social media on children are enough to convince any parent that children should not be given smartphones at all.
Apparently, many celebrities are also grappling with the modern-day dilemma of whether or not to give smart phones to children. For example, the famous singer Madonna said that she regrets why she allowed her children to use phones at the age of 13. She says that if she had known, she wouldn’t have done it.
On the other hand, it may also be true that you yourself own a smartphone and consider it an essential part of your life. From emails and online shopping to video calls and pictures of your kids, you consider everything to be important to you. And if your kids’ classmates and friends are all buying smartphones, your kids will feel like they’re missing out if they don’t have one.
Although we don’t have answers to many questions regarding the effects of smartphones and social media on children and youth, research on the topic is helping us to understand the major risks and benefits of smartphones and social media. This erupts the question at what age should a child be given a smartphone?
Because we don’t have clear and convincing evidence that smartphone or social media access in general has a negative impact on children’s mental health, the story may not be complete. Most of the research to date has been conducted on adolescent boys and girls, and evidence suggests that children are more vulnerable to the negative effects of smartphones and social media during certain months and years of mental development.
Also, most experts agree that when deciding whether your child is ready for a smartphone, there are a few factors to consider and what to do as parents after giving a child a smartphone. Should.
According to figures from the UK’s media watchdog, Ofcom, most children in the UK have a smartphone by the age of 11. At the age of nine, 44 percent of children have this facility and at the age of 11, this ratio increases to 91 percent.
In the United States, 37 percent of parents of nine- to 11-year-olds say their children have a smartphone, compared to 80 percent of nine- to 16-year-olds in a survey of 19 European countries. 100% of children said they also have smartphones and go on social media almost every day, almost every day.
“When we’re talking about 13- to 19-year-olds, that ratio goes up to 90 percent,” says Professor Candace Odgers, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley.
A European study of technology use among children aged birth to eight years found that children of this age had ‘little or no understanding of the dangers of the internet’ and if this age If we talk about the clear effects of smart phones and social media on children older than 20, then we do not have any strong evidence in this regard.
In his research, Professor Odgers not only reviewed three large-scale data sets on the relationship between the use of digital technology and the mental health of young adults, but also a number of other studies. Also studied. Their research also found no correlation between adolescent boys and girls’ mental health and digital technology use that applied to all children and different situations. These researches helps us that at what age should a child be given a smartphone?
According to the professor, ‘most studies have not found any relationship between social media use and mental health. Even in the studies that did show a relationship between the two things, the size of the negative or positive relationship was very small.
‘Rather, what came out very clearly in our research was very different from what people thought, even from the adolescent boys and girls themselves, and the evidence showed no link between social media and mental health.’
Similarly, research by Amy Orbin, an experimental psychologist at the University of Cambridge, found no conclusive evidence of a link between the two, but found a slightly negative average association between social media use and mental health. The relationship was observed.
According to Amy Orbin, it was impossible for her to prove a link between social media and children’s mental health, or to say that social media use actually affects children’s health. He further said that the quality of most of the research conducted in this regard is not good enough to yield any meaningful results.
No doubt we are talking about averages here about at what age should a child be given a smartphone? Amy Orbin says that ‘scientific reports and books show very different results regarding the effects of a substance on mental health. Therefore, the experiences of a young person may depend on his specific personal circumstances and only those who are very close to that child can tell.’
In practice, this means that despite the evidence that some children may experience difficulties using social media and other apps, it is important for parents to Keep this thing up front and help your child in this situation.
On the other hand, for some children, smartphones can be a blessing. For example, a child with a disability can use the Internet to find out where he can get help and connect with others like him.
Sonia Livingstone, professor of social psychology at the London School of Economics, says: ‘Imagine you are a child who worries that puberty is not going in the right direction, or that you are sexually different from your friends or You are concerned about climate change and people around you are fed up with what you are saying.’ In such a case, a smart phone can prove to be a very useful thing for you.
Most of the time when children are talking to someone on the phone, they are talking to their friends or family.
According to Professor Sonia, ‘If you really analyze who children are connecting with on the Internet, you will find that these are the same people they keep meeting in the real world. I think thinking that our child is lost somewhere alone with a phone may be true for some children, but the vast majority of children are also in contact with (their acquaintances) on the phone. , sharing something with them or watching a video together with them.’
Rather, many people say that after the advent of smart phones, children rarely leave the house. According to a study conducted on 11- to 15-year-old children in Denmark, children with smartphones feel more secure when roaming freely because they know they can contact their parents even in unfamiliar places. They get help from parents.
The children involved in the research said that having a smartphone outside the house makes them feel safer, listen to music and keep in touch with their friends and parents.
Obviously, if your child is constantly talking on the phone with boys and girls his age, it can be dangerous.
According to Professor Livingstone, ‘I think that the smartphone is a great thing that has fulfilled many needs of children that were never met before, but many children are also stressed by the smartphone. can. The smartphone can also put pressure on the child that maybe all the popular people are seen on the phone and he is not being included in the group.’
For example, this year Professor Orbin and his colleagues published an article in which they said that children who use social media more are less satisfied with their lives during certain periods of puberty. So, parents should worry at what age should a child be given a smartphone?
From the analysis of research data on 17,000 boys and girls aged 10 to 21 years, experts have found that girls who use social media more at the age of 11 to 13 years and boys aged 14 to 15 years, one year after their Less satisfied with life.
According to experts, research has also proven that boys and girls who used less social media in those years were more satisfied with their lives a year later.
The findings are also supported by the fact that girls generally reach puberty earlier than boys, but experts say there is little evidence that boys and girls are less satisfied with their lives than puberty. I have a difference or not.
According to the research, both boys and girls showed similar levels of dissatisfaction at age 19, which is typically the age when most children move away from home.
Parents should not take these ages of boys and girls as definitive and make decisions for their families, but it is also good to know at what age children may be more sensitive to the negative effects of social media.
For example, between the ages of 13 and 19, our brain undergoes a huge change and this can influence how young people behave and feel at this age. Perhaps at this age they become more sensitive about their relationship with social media and their status.
According to Professor Orbin, ‘Adolescence and adolescence are important periods of your mental development. During this time, your peers influence you more, you are more interested in what other people think of you, and social media is designed to connect you with others. And other people comment on you, and you know it all at the push of a button, so it can be a very stressful time for you.’
Apart from age, there are other factors that can influence the impact of social media on children, but research in this regard has only just begun.
Orban says that people can be affected positively or negatively at different times. This may be due to different experiences at different times in life, or they may be using social media differently.
While the research may offer some help to families struggling with whether or not to give their children a smartphone, it cannot answer the question of at what age should a smartphone be given?
“By saying that things are complicated, naturally the question goes back to the parents and that’s not a bad thing because it’s an individual decision,” says Orbin.
‘Parents have to think about what the impact is on the child and the family,’ says Edgars.
For many parents, getting a child a smartphone is an important decision. According to Odgers, many parents want their young children to have a smartphone so they can stay in touch with them throughout the day.
Apart from this, it is also an important milestone in the journey of puberty. “Parents should think about whether their children are at an age where they can take responsibility for having their own phone,” says Anja Staveck, a researcher at the Department of Communication at the University of Vienna in Austria.
One point that parents should not overlook is how comfortable they are with their child having a smartphone.
A study by Stevik and his colleagues found that when parents complain about their child’s lack of control over their smartphone, conflict with children over the phone increases.
It’s also important to remember that owning a smartphone doesn’t mean giving access to every app or game.
Professor Sonia Livingstone says: ‘When I interview children, I often find that parents give them phones but with few conditions and debate about which apps they are allowed to access. will go, which I think is quite wise.’
Parents can play games with their children to see if they are satisfied with the content, or set aside time to review the content on the phone.
Odgers says that to some extent, parents should check, but this should be done through dialogue during which children are supported as they would be in normal life.
While setting smartphone rules, such as no phones in the room at night, parents should also take an honest look at their own phone use.
Professor Sonia Livingstone says, ‘Children hate duplicity. They feel bad when they are scolded for something that parents do themselves, like using the phone at mealtimes or in bed.’
Children learn to use phones from their parents. According to a European report on the use of digital technology among children between birth and eight years of age, the dangers are not understood in this age group, but children are imitating their parents.
During the research, some parents also learned that their children knew their device’s password and could use it themselves.
But parents can also use this in a positive way. Shared use can be a good way to teach kids how to use a phone so they know what’s in the phone and what it’s for, Stevic says.
When to give a child a smartphone is an important decision for parents. The age factor is also important that at what age should a child be given a smartphone?For some it will be the right decision not to give the phone and if a little common sense is used, such children will not even need it.
Professor Sonia Livingstone says, ‘Children who are confident and socially active or sociable find ways to occupy their time. After all, the center of their lives is school where they meet each other every day.
In fact, the fear of missing out without a smartphone can be a good lesson for kids as it helps them go through the process of setting limits when they are older and have the freedom to buy a phone for themselves. will have.
“The problem with the fear of missing out is that it never goes away, so everyone has to learn to set a limit somewhere or you’re going to be on the phone 24 hours a day,” says Livingstone. .’