Nearly every youngster today uses a smartphone; as many as 91 per cent of 11-year-olds have one. If a child doesn't have a cell phone, does he or she miss out on anything, or do they gain something from not having one?
It's a modern issue, for sure. Is it better to give your kid a smartphone or limit their access to them?
You would be understandably concerned about your child's exposure to negative influences in the world if they had access to a smartphone. Anyone may be motivated to cut back on their own or their children's phone and social media use if they read the overwhelming quantity of news articles regarding the potential negative effects of such use. This issue of modern parenting affects everyone, including celebrities. The singer has declared she would never do it again, although she does regret giving her elder children cellphones at the age of 13.
However, you very certainly use your phone daily to access things like email, internet shopping, video conversations, and family photo albums. Isn't there a risk that your kid may feel left out if he or she doesn't have a phone while everyone else does?
Though the long-term effects of smartphone and social media use on children and adolescents are still mostly unknown, studies have shown some of the most significant hazards and advantages.
While there may not be much proof that owning a phone or using social media is harmful to children's health, it may not be the full picture. New data shows that there may be stages of a child's development when they are more likely to have negative impacts, and much of the study so far has focused on teens rather than younger children.
In addition, there are a few factors that experts say are crucial to consider when choosing if your child is ready for a smartphone and what to do after they have one.
Information from the UK's communications regulator, Ofcom, shows that most children in the UK have their smartphone by the age of 11. From the age of nine to eleven, the number of children who owned a smartphone went from 44% to 91%. In the United States, 37% of parents of children ages 9 to 11 say that their child has their smartphone. And a survey done in Europe across 19 countries found that 80% of kids between the ages of 9 and 16 use a smartphone to connect to the internet every day or almost every day.
Candice Odgers, a professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine, says that by the time kids are in their late teens, more than 90% of them already have cell phones.
A study done in Europe on how children from birth to eight years old use digital technologies found that children in this age range had "limited or no perception of online risks." However, there isn't enough evidence to say that using smartphones and the social media apps that can be accessed through them is bad for children nine years old and older.
Odgers looked at and analyzed six meta-analyses that looked at the link between children's and teens' use of digital technology and their mental health. This was in addition to large-scale studies and daily diary research. She found that there was no clear link between how well teenagers did in school and how much time they spent using technology.
Odgers says that the results of the vast majority of studies show that there is no link between using social media and a person's mental health. In the research that did find a link between the two variables, both the positive and negative effects were pretty small. She says that the most important thing she found was the difference between what people think and what science says, even among teenagers.
An experimental psychologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom named Amy Orben examined the evidence as well and came to the conclusion that it did not make a clear case either way. Even though there was, on average, a small negative correlation between the studies, Orben concluded that it was impossible to know whether happiness caused the drop in technology, whether happiness caused the drop in technology, or whether both were affected by other things. This was the case even though there was a small negative correlation between the studies. According to her, the majority of the research that has been done in this field is not of sufficient quality to produce meaningful findings.
The findings presented here are, of course, averages. Scientists have shown that the influence on well-being varies greatly, and Orben argues that each teen's experience will be different since it will be determined by their unique circumstances. "Most of the time," she continues, "the only people who can truly tell are the ones who are closest to them."
This indicates that, in the real world, despite the conclusions drawn from the broader body of data, there may be children who run into problems as a result of their usage of social media platforms or specific applications. Parents need to be aware of this and assist their children whenever they need it.
Sometimes, a phone may be an absolute necessity for some young people, such as those who are disabled and in need of a new means of socialization or who have pressing health-related problems that need to be answered immediately.
Teens typically use their phones to contact those already in their social circles. As Odgers puts it, "a child's online and offline network have a very considerable overlap." That's why it's not surprising to see so many familiar faces among the kids' internet pals. According to an authority, "I believe this entire concept that we're losing a kid to isolation because of the phone is accurate for some kids, but for the great majority of kids, they're chatting, sharing, and watching together."
A Danish study of adolescents aged 11 to 15 found that despite the widespread belief that smartphones are to blame for their children spending less time outdoors, there is some evidence that they give children more freedom by reassuring parents and facilitating the exploration of new environments. Kids felt that having a cell phone with them when they were outside would enhance their experience since they could listen to music and stay in touch with loved ones.
However, there is a disadvantage to being always in touch with your pals.
According to Livingstone, "the phone has been a terrific opportunity for young people to receive something they've always desired." "However, for some people, the pressure to conform is overwhelming to the point that it becomes harmful. They may feel excluded from the "cool" crowd if they believe that everyone else is partaking in the same activities and is up-to-date on the latest trends."
Orben and his colleagues discovered "windows of developmental sensitivity" at specific ages where using social media is associated with decreased life satisfaction later on, according to studies published earlier this year.
According to a study of over 17,000 people between the ages of 10 and 21, heavy social media use between the ages of 11 and 13 for females and 14 and 15 for boys was associated with decreased life satisfaction a year later. The opposite was also true: less use of social media at this age meant a happier life the next year.
Researchers believe this fits with the observation that females often enter puberty before boys, however, they caution that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that this is the reason for the observed disparity. At the age of 19, both men and women saw another opening, coinciding with the period when many young adults first move out on their own.
Parents should use these estimates with caution when making choices for their own families, but it's important to keep in mind that a child's maturation process may cause them to become more sensitive to the dark side of social media at a certain age. The brain undergoes dramatic changes during adolescence, which can have a profound effect on how adolescents feel and behave, such as making them more attuned to their peers and their place in the social hierarchy.
Researchers are just beginning to examine these individual variances, but they suggest that variables beyond age may influence the impact of social media on children and teens. In his opinion, this is now a fundamental topic of study, Orben argues. One person may be disproportionately affected in a favourable or bad way at one moment or another. It might be because they are in vastly different stages of life and development, or that they are employing wildly dissimilar strategies while interacting with one another online. We need to disentangle those issues immediately.
Getting a kid a cell phone is a sensible choice for many parents. Odgers notes that "in a lot of situations," parents are the ones who want their children to have phones so that they may stay in touch during the day and arrange for pickups.
It's also a rite of passage into adulthood. Anja Stevic, a researcher at the University of Vienna, Austria, in the field of communication, believes that the practice instils a sense of autonomy and accountability in youngsters. The question of whether or not their children are mature enough to handle the responsibilities of having their gadgets is one that all parents should ask themselves.
When deciding whether or not to give their child a smartphone, parents should think about how comfortable they are with the idea. Research by Stevic and colleagues found that tensions between parents and children increased when the former felt helpless in the face of their offspring's smartphone use.
However, one should keep in mind that access to any apps and games does not automatically follow the acquisition of a smartphone. According to Livingstone's interviews with kids, "I'm hearing, increasingly, that parents are giving them the phone but introducing procedures to verify and negotiate which applications receive," and he thinks that's probably pretty good.
Similarly, parents might schedule regular phone check-ins with their kids or schedule time to play games with their kids to ensure they're pleased with the material.
Odgers adds, "There's some monitoring, but there needs to be this dialogue and openness to it, to be able to support them for what they're seeing and experiencing online, just like offline."
Parents should take an honest look at their smartphone use before imposing limits on their children, such as prohibiting nighttime phone use in a child's bedroom.
Kids aren't fond of those who act hypocritically, says Livingstone. Parents being criticized in front of their children for doing the same thing, such as using a phone during meals or taking it to bed with them, is something they take very personally.
Children of all ages can pick up on their parent's phone habits. Children under the age of eight have little to no knowledge of the dangers associated with digital technology usage, according to a European survey, and they tend to mimic their parents' habits when it comes to screen time. During the research, several parents found out that their children knew the passwords to their electronic devices and could use them without their supervision.
But parents may take advantage of this by including their children in their smartphone activities and setting a positive example. "I think this interaction and co-use, that's a terrific approach for children to understand what's occurring on this gadget, what it's for," explains Stevic.
Whether or not to buy a smartphone for a child is a valuable decision that should be made by the parents. Not buying a smartphone may be the best option for some people, and kids who don't have access to one may still have fun with a little ingenuity.
Children who are "fairly confident" and "social" will figure out how to "workarounds" and "be part of the group," as Livingstone puts it. They spend the majority of their waking hours together, socially speaking, at school, where they see one another daily.
Teens who go without a phone for some time may find that learning to deal with FOMO (fear of missing out) is a valuable life skill that will serve them well after they are no longer restricted by their parents and must learn how to put boundaries on their device use.
A problem with FOMO is that it never goes away, so everyone needs to learn to set limits, as Livingstone puts it. Otherwise, you'd spend all your time on your phone.
That brings us to the conclusion. I want to express my gratitude to you for taking the time to read this post, and I pray that God will richly reward you.
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