Modern times come with unforeseen changes that affect all of us. If a few years back one of the hottest parental debates was the safe and proper age to let your child drive, today the issues revolve around kids having smartphones and surfing the internet. Research shows that parents get their children a smartphone when the little ones are in their early school years. Specialists in safety and parenting recommend that no child should use a smartphone unless he is 12 or 14 years of age.
The debate can go on forever.
The use of a smartphone comes with plenty of risks for children: sexual predators, cyber bullying, pedophilia, pornography, stalking and so on. Smartphones do have a tendency to alienate people and interfere with their social and communication skills. But, on the other hand, a smartphone can keep a child safe and protected – as long as you limit the internet use.
According to researchers, 50% of the 1,240 children studied this year in a poll admitted they were addicted to their smartphones. Social peer pressure and the volatile and even dangerous world we live in compel parents to buy their children smartphones to keep in touch and have the kids connected to the high-tech environment they were born in. But parents also discovered in the last years that children become more and more antisocial, develop poor communication skills and fall victims to sexting and pornography.
The benefits of using a smartphone as a young child cannot be overlooked either: the devices support a myriad of educational apps, safety apps and brain training games and features that can help children learn better about their world. Some apps, like the Red Panic Button, are also perfect smartphone additions that can save a child’s life. For instance, the Panic Button app allows the child to send a distress call via SMS and Twitter to a selected list of emergency contacts in case he is in trouble, got lost, suffered an injury or signals an accident. The app transmits the sender’s exact GPS coordinates, making a search and rescue operation a lot easier. And what parent wouldn’t want his child safe and sound while he is on camping, on a trip or with his friends?
The answer is, and always will be responsibility. You can implement a lot of parental control measures to limit a child’s access to the internet, to certain websites or apps, while allowing him to make / receive phone calls and send / receive SMSs to certain people. However, no parental control works in the absence of teaching your children the responsibility of using a smartphone.
You can fully permit the use of educational, entertainment and safety apps and disable many of the smartphone features – but ultimately, children need to learn when and why and how to stop abusing the smartphone and how to make the best use of it in the same time.