I remember my first mobile phone. I was about eighteen years old and I wanted one so badly. I was about to start Uni and it was just the summer holidays. I found a temp job in a store selling car parts and that’s how I managed to buy it. Made me feel so important and also cool. It was a Motorola and it was one of the strongest phones I ever had. It was banged against walls, thrown on the floor, dropped in the sink, anything you might think of… you name it.
I wanted that phone because I was eighteen and therefore, seen myself entitled to have one. Not once I thought a mobile phone will make my parents feel better as they could contact me anytime. I only thought I can text my friends and I am one of the cool kids.
Technology evolved and the old mobile phones are now smart. You got just about your entire life with you and owning a smart phone is not considered a luxury but a necessity. I mean, let’s be honest. What’s your level of panic the second you can’t find your phone? I go crazy because I got emails, banking, phone numbers, drafts and projects … not to mention I can’t remember anyone’s phone number if I need it. I am not an advocate for neither sides but reading a BBC article recently made me think just how far have we got when it comes to “frying” our children’s brains.
I am not saying my daughter will not have a mobile phone by I don’t know what age. I am not a control freak but I am not quite that permissive either. My issue was just what exactly means for a child to use a smart phone. My child is almost four years old and just like everyone here, I cannot keep her away from tablets, TV or phones completely. She has restricted access to a tablet (only educational apps, no internet access and once a week for a maximum of an hour), she doesn’t get my phone unless she is looking at old pictures of herself and this happens pretty rarely. Now, the telly is a different thing as in our house it’s always on. For her, a TV is most of the times a background noise but I have to admit she does watch lots of Disney movies and on daily basis.
When she was about one, I used to put on nursery rhymes on a tablet and let her in front of it for a bit until I would manage to hoover and do dishes. What I noticed after a while was scary. She stopped responding to me and was grumpier than her usual self so I took the decision of cutting off tablet access in the house.
For a child, I find a smart phone a bit more dangerous than any tablets or TV. This because it traps them in a virtual world where real emotions are non existent. The dangers of online activities are well known and seeking help should be a priority for parents. I think it’s our duty to educate our children when it comes to this.
It found that 45% of parents thought the benefits of children using the internet outweighed the risks, but there was an overall increase in parental concern about young people seeing content that might lead them to self-harm.
It is vital to keep track of your own child in our present times, know their social media activities and guide them towards a positive use of information one can access. I am not saying to “stalk” your child and invade their privacy. Make them your friend by being “cool” and talking openly about sensitive subjects.
I know, I am not naive to say that my child will never hide things from me because I know quite well what I was doing as a teenager but in this day and age, I am definitely a believer that dangers are far more acute than one generation ago. Having a smart phone at the age of ten might be inevitable but controlling the use of it is vital in my opinion.
I want to teach my daughter emotions, reality, love, interaction and also to be a child when it’s time to be a child. I want her to play outside and have a proper childhood, to scrape her knees, run around and make friends. There is a time for everything and she can have a Facebook account, Instagram or whatever she wants when I will know she is aware of the implications of it.