HELSINKI, Finland, November 3, 2013 — Very young children, when they go to school, get cell phones. Nowadays it is often a smart phone.
The main reason for parents to give cell phones to their children is safety. A cell phone is a safety device for a child.
However, what kind of cell phone is suitable for small children and preadolescents, kids roughly five to 14 years of age?
Children at school compare cell phones and are smart enough to figure out who has the better functioning, more expensive gadget. These comparisons lead to asking parents for better phones because of peer pressure. Unfortunately, parents often surrender to kids’ demands and provide them with better and more expensive smart phones that can do much more than just calling or texting. Parents want the best for their children at whatever the monetary cost.
Small children and preadolescents are developing both physically and mentally. They need physical exercise in open air and they need mental stimulation appropriate to their age. Smart phones hamper both of these needs.
Youngsters become addicted to their gadgets. They fiddle with smart phones all day long, and often late into the night. They follow slavishly the social media websites that should be called anti-social media because they prevent and obstruct real human-to-human contact.
Smart phone access to internet — often unlimited and unchecked by the parents — is the gravest danger. Youngsters can access websites containing information they are unable to understand and properly process. These sites are not only the infamous porn sites. There is plenty of other “grown up” information on internet that youngsters are mentally unprepared to handle. Reading and seeing such information might cause psychological strain, affecting kids’ behavior and even on into their adult lives.
Parents are irresponsible in their parenting when they provide small children and preadolescents with smart phones.
Selling and use of smart phones for small children and preadolescents should not be permitted because of the risk of disturbed mental development of small children and preadolescents.
Children going to school should have cell phones, as an emergency device, but these phones should not be smart phones. Knowing how diverse parents’ opinions are on this subject, the only way to enforce no-smart-phone rules for kids might be, unfortunately, governmental regulation.
What could be the basis for yet another governmental regulation?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
The mental and social well-being of small children and preadolescents is easily affected by the smart phones and they do not have the mental capacity of adults to handle the strain.
There is also another potential health risk for the long-term avid users of cell phones — radiation — that was classified by the WHO as a possible human carcinogen.
Both of the risks, of the impaired mental development and of the carcinogenicity, if materialized, will have more severe impact on developing bodies and minds of youngsters.
Good advice to parents: Be smart and be precautionary — no smart phones for kids. If you need advice how to deal with this issue, see more on this topic in recent post in science blog BRHP.
Follow Dariusz on twitter: @blogBRHP
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