It’s not an easy debate when to give technology like Smartphones in the hands of the children and when it becomes an addiction. How long can a parent shield a child from it? This has been a  gigantic struggle for the digital age parents with preteens and teenagers.

Using and owning a smart phone are two different things

It is a different thing to use a parent’s smart phone for a limited time, and to give a child his or her own smart phone.

Loaning gives parents a better control on how much the child gets to use the gadget. The parent/s can also keep an eye on what the child is using the phone for. However, kids these days know how to clear browser history, operate data packs, and access Wi-Fi outside parental knowledge. It’s a scary prospect to know that the child might be able to beat parental censorship, but it is true.

Also, once a child treads into pre-teen years, he or she becomes more desperate to being accepted or appreciated in his or her social circle. Hence, not having a smart phone becomes a threat of being socially outcast. We have to keep in mind that here the desire to own the smart phone stems from peer pressure.

Smartphones and the inevitability of internet and social media

A study published in 2015 by GSMA and the Mobile Society Research Institute, says that 95 percent of children who use smartphones have access to the internet on their devices.

The study further says that 81 percent of children who access the mobile internet use social networking services.

Once you give your child a personal smartphone, it is nearly impossible to keep them off social media and networking. Social networking exposure at a young age puts our children at the risk of bullying, sexual abuse and may lead to stress, insomnia etc.

The U.K. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt said in an interview that excessive social media use poses as big a threat to children’s health as smoking or obesity.

With the shrinkage of the size of our families, the pampering received by our children is going up exponentially. Parents now find it hard to say no to their children or discipline them.

Smartphone usage should be for recreational purposes and for a specific duration.

Another important thing many experts say is to lead by example here. With most us of spending time more on our phones playing games or on social networks, preaching a child to not do so, doesn’t hold much ground. Agreed that smart phone usage needs to decrease among adults as well. But most of our work these days gets done in front of one screen or another. Also, for many of us, social networking is a part of our jobs as well.

As a parent giving your child a smart phone should be a decision made on basis of several aspects. Warn your child about networking sites like Instagram and Snapchat, which were rated the worst for the well-being of children by Royal Society For Public Health. Keeping a child rooted to the real world amidst all the digital distractions is a humongous challenge. Surely, if all the parents have similar sensibilities on this issue, it will not as big a problem.

Picture credits: Newscrab

Also Read : Social Media Behaviour Influences Parent-child Relationships

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are author’s own.

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