Curtailing your Kid’s Phone Usage: Good or Bad?

children using phone

Have you ever had one of those discussions with your children: How as kids, you went around running, climbing trees, chasing your friends while playing catch-catch?

Right after which, you see your son spend his summer sitting on the phone or the iPad. And the generational gap hits you in the face like a dodgeball!?

The Phone-age

Much like the Stone-age, where stones were an active part of the lifestyle, if this current era that we lived in had to be given a name, it would certainly be the Phone-age.

You must have considered seizing your kid’s phone because he needs to experience the “real world” more often. However, would that necessarily be a good idea?

Let’s look at both sides of the argument.

The Shortcomings

Here are a few banes of your child having a phone:

1. May result in reduced Social Skills

The more time your kids spend on their phones, the less time they have to interact face-to-face. This is probably hindering their one-on-one social skills.

2. They are susceptible to higher levels of Anxiety and Depression

A study by science daily says that the pressure to be available on social media 24/7 leads to higher levels of depression and anxiety among teenagers these days.

3. May result in reduced sleeping time.

The compulsion to be on the phone, before going to bed, may slowly be infringing their sleeping time. As a result, these kids may actually be missing out on the crucial sleep necessary during their childhood.

Also, it so happens that the light emitted from phones, tablets and computers emit more from the blue region of the spectrum; this triggers the hormone serotonin (which helps us stay awake) and suppresses the hormone melatonin (which helps us sleep).

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This can have a detrimental effect on our child’s sleep pattern, especially if exposure is just prior to their sleep time

4. Increased problems with weight

When children choose to play virtual games on their phones over the rather more traditional games and sports that involve more physical activity, it leads to sedentary lifestyle patterns that hamper their health and can result in increasing their weight and childhood obesity.

5. Decreasing Attention Span

In a study by Boston College, it was found that when the students were kept in a room with both television and computers on, they switched their eyes back and forth every 14 seconds — 120 times in 27.5 minutes.

Clearly, from all of the above, now you would be pretty convinced to not put a phone in your kid’s hands EVER again!

But needless to say, having a phone also has its positive aspects. And, to jump to a rational conclusion, it would only be fair to take a look at the positive aspects of giving your son or daughter that small yet powerful machine.

The Strengths

1. Changing Social Habits

Yes, most of us reading this, value the importance of face-to-face interaction and wouldn’t want it to die. However, it is also true that society is always evolving and there is little that we can do to change that.

Interactions today are moving from real life to virtual interactions and would you really want to hinder your child’s evolution into this rapidly changing society?

2. Communication

Do you really want your son/daughter to miss out on an assignment that was communicated over WhatsApp on his class group? No, right?

As much as your children would use their phone for texting their friends, at the end of the day all they are doing is staying connected. Man is a social animal, after all!

3. Technological Evolution

As quick as it sounds, the world is getting ever closer to the futuristic picture shown in the movie Love Story 2050. And our kids are the vehicle for this digital evolution. By depriving them of a phone in their learning years, you are impeding their smooth landing into this digital era.

4. Infinite Knowledge

Yes, we all can agree that Google and YouTube have content that all the books in the world couldn’t cover! The kind of knowledge that the internet can provide us with, nothing else in the world can, so easily and ubiquitously. Wouldn’t you want your child to know things beyond the textbooks and the courses taught in school?

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5. SOS Scenario

Imagine you are unable to trach your child. In such situation, you can use the GPS tracking on the phone to know that your child is somewhere safe and sound. Hopefully, you’d never have to use this. But the facility is available, just in case. And the emergency dial feature on the phone would also come in handy if your child is in a threatened or dangerous situation.

The Decision

Okay, so now that we have seen a few boons and banes, here’s what we can conclude:

  1. Using the phone isn’t bad, abusing it is. You may want to restrict your kid’s phone use to a certain amount every day. (even the CEO of Snap does it!)
  2. Educating your child about the addictions and making them aware of the harm of overusing a phone would certainly help.
  3. It would help to show them a lot of educational platforms (like ThinkTac) the phone can provide while at the same time, ensuring they make use of it.

Curbing them from using a phone is only going to make them want to use it more than ever! In an article by Psychology Today it has been shown that Scarcity makes everything a lot more desirable.

So, it’s your call to make. Whether you would want your child to be deprived of a phone in their early years and binge on their phone usage later or to have them accustomed to the Dos and Don’ts of a phone from early in their childhood!

Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts and inputs in the comments below!

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