Parents, no more excuses. You must manage your child or teen’s smartphone and social media life. The fact that I have to include children under the age of 13 in this conversation is truly a mystery to me. For what reason would your birth-12 year old child need a phone, let alone a mini portal to the whole world?
Let me get this right. We tell our kids not to talk to strangers, to stay away from creepy or dangerous places, not to go out alone at night, to stay close to us or hold our hand, not to hang around with questionable characters, and of course, not to jump off the roof just because so-and-so jumped off the roof. Yet, in the form of an internet-enabled device, we nonchalantly hand over access to all those things and more, mostly without supervision, without time limits and without helping them interpret any of the things they encounter. Does that make sense?
The generic parental argument seems to be: “I only got him a phone in case he needs to reach me or I need to reach him”. Ask yourself, when is your child alone – without any adult supervision – such that they would need a phone in order to get help when needed? Under the age of 13, children don’t have the knowledge or experience to deal with emergencies and should have access to an adult in case one arises. If your child is that far away from adult help at this age, perhaps you have some other things to worry about.
What about at home? You get rid of your landline to save money and then reason that your child needs a cell phone. I say, either spend the money for a landline or post up the cell phone at home to act as one. Then there’s the issue of children with smartphones in their bedrooms all night. Eight hours of unsupervised access to the world, under the cover of darkness, alone and uninhibited. What possible reason could a parent give to justify that? Because children use the phone for an alarm to wake them up for school? You wake them! Or buy an alarm clock … yes, they still exist.
Is it possible that we parents are skirting our responsibility to limit and monitor smartphone usage because it’s a lot of work? Let’s be honest, it’s a pain in the neck – and I don’t just mean literally. It takes a lot of effort, time, attention, diligence and perseverance to keep our kids within the boundaries we have set up. And with the proliferation of hand-held devices, it is that much more difficult. Yet, the parental responsibility still remains.
As far as teenagers go, they were once the number one age group driving the research into the negative effects of smartphones and social media. This, because teenagers have been left to abuse the privilege for far too long and are now experiencing the far reaching effects of that excessive misuse. They have been allowed to be on the internet for too many hours, without the wisdom and maturity to know the things they are watching or posting can be damaging, inappropriate, hurtful and sometimes deadly.
Now there is a new focus on gathering research on the effects of cell phone use on babies and toddlers, because too many parents are using devices as babysitters. This exposes young, rapidly developing brains, eyes, and joints to a new way to form. We know that by age five or six the human brain is almost completely developed. So, if we are giving our littlest family members smartphones, computers and tablets during this crucial period of development, are we permanently altering the way their brains form? Are their brains creating neural pathways that need continuous stimulation, variety, lights, sounds, rapid movements and action? Will our kids be unable to sit still, be quiet, think pensively, sleep soundly … be at peace?
The emotional ramifications of being tied to social media are staggering. Kids are already awkward, self conscious, in need of approval, cruel and unthinking, and unable to truly comprehend the ramifications of their decisions. Yet, it is this unstable group that parents unconditionally turn over such powerful technology.
How will we ever be able to take our families out to a nice dinner with engaged conversation or be still to enjoy the beautiful outdoors or wait patiently in a waiting room or sit outside under a tree and read a book or experience boredom to the point where we become creative if we don’t train our kids to be still and be quiet, without constant electronic stimulation?
How often do you see babies, preschoolers, kids and teens in public places without their face in a smartphone? When a child becomes restless, angry, rowdy, or cries, how often does a device come out to save the day?
As parents, it is our responsibility to train our children to be productive citizens who are able to successfully function within society. We cannot deny that smartphones, despite their positive uses, have become increasingly detrimental to society. This can be seen in the many problems our youth are facing as a result of excessive use and exposure. We must push back against the tide of social pressure to give our kids smartphones and do the extra work to lay down and enforce limits in its use. It’s our duty to protect our families from the many proven harmful effects including anxiety, sleep deprivation, loneliness, depression, distorted self-image and addiction.
Your call to action:
Do some research, decide on house rules about smartphone use, tell your kids the rules and then put on your armor and enforce them!
#notafraidtothink #notsheeple #we’retheparents