Specious Smartphones

February 12, 2017
By , Sewickley, PA

Although technology is increasing in the twenty first century, there are limitations as to who should own and who should have access to smartphones. In the US, 68% of the teens younger than twelve have cell phones. Why are many people so enticed to buy smartphones? Although these devices promote effective communication, most adults neglect the disadvantages of giving complete freedom to their kids. Strolling down the road, I see small kids play games on their phones as they are walking. During speeches, it is very annoying to see little kids gazing at the screen of their devices, being disrespectful to the speaker. Some children as young as age twelve have smartphones with unlimited data, text, and talk and it is not surprising that their parents are complaining about their poor grades. Every parent wants to take best decisions for their child, so when children asks for a phone with all the extra features like unlimited talk and text, parents provide them. However, giving young students all these freedoms encourages them to abuse these devices to the point where their lives may be in danger. Smartphones not only are an asset for kids, instead, they take over kids’ lives. Children under the age of twelve should not own smartphones because smartphones distract them, cause health issues and encourage bullying/social media abuse at such a young age.


Firstly, parents should not provide these young children with their own smartphones because it distracts them both inside and outside of the school. Although this generation demands increasing technology for school work, teachers are not aware of what the students do behind their backs. For example, in our school, there are many students who play games online when the teacher is in front of the room teaching. If the student’s education is affected at such a young age, it will be difficult for them to cope later on since they lack a grip on their basics. They lose focus on whatever they are doing since they are always concerned about what is going on in their phones. According to Dr. Jenny Radesky, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician who conducted further research about children’s interaction with the world, children learn from the world around them (How do). Radesky found that these young children are lacking personal interactions due to their immense addiction to phones. Through face-to-face interactions, younger children observe, imitate and learn the different morals and behaviors. From this, she concluded that screen time decreases their learning and physical interactions with the world which is directly affecting their cognitive development since they are not able to experience nor learn new information (How do). Students also struggle with their critical thinking and analysis skills due these smartphones, which ultimately affects their education. Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, conducted a research on the effects of technology on literacy skills. Based on her study, she concluded that smartphones decrease critical thinking and analysis while improving visual skills (Wolpert). Thus, when these students are forced to read printed text in schools, they are struggling because technology conditions the brain to pay attention to information very differently than reading a traditional text (Taylor). Smartphones also have have an impact on children’s social life. Some might just spend too much time on their phones rather than studying or spending time with the family. Family dinners and group interactions are gradually decreasing. Even in the middle school cafeteria, which is a place to enjoy food while socializing, kids are so addicted that they forget everything except their phones. Emily Drago, a researcher who studied effect of technology on face to face communication, interviewed middle school students about their technology usage.

 

Based on the students’ responses, she concluded that students are mostly spending their valuable time on these spurious smartphones instead of social interactions. This, in turn, is decreasing their capacity to learn from their experiences and their surroundings (Drago 16). Who does not want their child to excel in academics or social life?
Not only do these smartphones distract children, but addiction to these devices coincides with numerous health issues. Research shows that younger children are greatly affected by the radiation from their phones. According to Dr. Om Ghandi, a leading scientist and professor of electrical engineering at the University of Utah, children are more vulnerable to health issues through radiation than adults because their brain tissues absorb more microwave radiation from these devices than the adult brain. He explained this by saying more radiation is able to go past the ear and into the head since a child's ear is thinner and the phone is closer to the head (Ghandi). Verum, a German research group that studied the effect of radiation on human and animal cells in a laboratory, found that radio waves also damage DNA which cannot always be replenished by the cell. (Verum) Next, although today’s schooling demands education through technology-based resources, like doing projects on phones, teachers should minimize this by considering how the students might start to damage their eyes from staring at the screen for a long time. According to American Optometric Association, leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation's health, heavy smartphone use puts these children at a greater risk for early myopia or nearsightedness (The 21st). Since smartphones demand fine motor skills from these young eyes that are not well developed, children are also at a greater risk for computer vision syndrome than adults. This group states that children are susceptible to all these issues at such a young age because the distance between the lens and retina is always changing (The 21st). Also, these phones do a great job in disturbing the child’s sleep quality. National Sleep Foundation concluded that when one uses their phone until they fall asleep, the blue light emitted by screens on cell phones restrain the production of melatonin- the hormone that controls our sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. These sleep disturbances in early ages accumulate, which in the future can lead to many issues like Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Sleep). Although parents might think their kids are alright even when they are using the phones too much, their child might be undergoing some serious changes inside which might appear later on in their life. If the parents or guardian takes the decision now, they would not need to be shocked about their child’s health issues in the future. Parents should consider this because who does not want their children to lead a healthy life? Everyone deserves to lead a healthy lifestyle. As parents are responsible for their kids, they should make acute decisions by thinking about the consequences of giving your child, who is under the age of 12, phones with unnecessary features. 


On top of affecting their social life and school life and healthy lifestyle, these smartphones encourage children to do wrong actions secretly. Although children might act innocent in front of their parents, they will do something wrong behind their parents’ backs. Here is a scenario. Middle school children might be attracted with the growing technology and might just start taking pictures of others since they can. This, in turn, can lead them to post these on social media or use these to harass other kids, which is otherwise called social media abuse or cyber bullying. Cyberbullying can be via photos, videos, emails, rumors etc. According to the Statistics by NVEEE, National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment, 11% of middle schoolers were victims of cyberbullying and they expect this number to increase as the number of children with all these freedoms increase (Statistics). These children could also make fake accounts to prank their friends or enemies. A group of researchers from Pew Research Center, recently interviewed students about what they do on social media sites. Accordingly, they found that 26% of them said they make fake accounts. They take advantage of these accounts to text others in an inappropriate way and bully them through uploading images. This might seem interesting to the kids but they do not understand the pain of what the other kid might go through. These children can also use these smartphones for watching inappropriate videos. Through their fake accounts, children can easily watch videos, and parents remain unaware of what their children are doing. It seems very easy and it is! Lastly, these smartphones act as a source to cheat in school. According to a national poll conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, a research group that relentlessly try to pursue the right answer, corroborated that 35% of this age use their smartphones to cheat in tests, school works etc. This is not ideal for their education since plagiarizing or cheating can be an offense in higher grades (Thirty%). The reason for all this mishap is the kids having access to their own smartphones. If parents monitor their activity on their phones, the kids’ lives would be so much better since they are not exposed to all these bad influences. These young students do not realize that their posts are permanent. It is hard for them to understand that no one deserves to be bullied, and they do whatever seems fun to them at that instinct.


A few parents might say “My kid is twelve or younger, but he/she needs a phone to communicate with us about their extracurricular or after school activities.” Well, that is true but there are many alternative options available to solve this. Maybe if the kid needs to call their parent, just give them a basic plan: 30 minutes calling per month. This plan charges money for texting or calling over 30 minutes, which eliminates the misuse of their phones like addiction to texting or surfing bad information. As a parent, try to eliminate all the extraneous choices like giving them unlimited data without any reason because you are, unknowingly, encouraging them to do all these wrong activities. Make sure that they have a legitimate reason for what they want, and it is the parent’s responsibility to select the most basic plan-- limited minutes, data-- to diminish all these issues.


Therefore, disadvantages of these children having their own smartphones outweigh the advantages of the technology. Parents and guardians should make right decisions now since this age is the most crucial time for the children to develop or learn anything. By taking these steps, parents could eliminate future consequences and can lead a happy and safe life. Parents should make sure that they are monitoring their kids’ phones regularly so that the kids can stop from doing something wrong since they are aware of the consequences. Set up a family account so that a parent can easily track what their child is doing. Give them the most basic plan and avoid giving them additional features like unlimited texting. Again, do not make these poor brains fall for specious smartphones as they can take over the kid’s life. As a parent, help your child make rights decisions by monitoring the smartphone activity for these younger kids to better their lives.

 

Work Cited
Aspa. “What is Cyberbullying?” StopBullying. Web 21 November 2016.
“Cell Phones, Radiation and Your Child’s Health.” Healthy Child Healthy World. Web 21 November 2016.
“Developing the Child's Brain.” Developing the Child’s Brain. Web 21 November 2016.
Drago Emily. “The Effect of Technology on Face-to-Face Communication by Emily Drago -- 13.” Web 21 November 2016
“How do Smartphones Affect Childhood Psychology?” Psych Central, 17 July 2016. Web 21 November 2016.
Mary Madden, Amanda Lenhart, Sandra Cortesi, Urs Gasser, Maeve Duggan, Aaron Smith, Meredith Beaton. “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science and Tech, 21 May 2013. Web 21 November 2016.
Sleep foundation. “How Technology Impacts Sleep Quality.” Sleep. Web 21 November 2016.
“Statistics.” NVEEE. Web 21 November 2016.
Taylor Jim. “Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus.” Psychology Today. Web 21 November 2016.
“The 21st Century Child: Increased Technology Use May Lead to Future Eye Health and Vision  Issues.” American Optometric Association. Web 21 November 2016.
Wolpert, Stuart. “Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?” UCLA Newsroom 27 January 2009. Web 21 November 2016.
“Thirty-five percent of Teens Admit to Using Cell Phones to Cheat.” Review and Age Ratings- Best Movies, Books, Apps, Games for Kids. Web 21 November 2016.






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