Is it OK for 7 or 8 year-olds to have their own phone?

At the risk of sounding like an old-head, when I see kids younger than high school in possession of phones I notice myself questioning it.

Recently, a  7-year old girl talked to me about wanting to have her own YouTube channel, while also pushing her mom to have unlimited access to TikTok.

The average age of parents I deal with  is probably between 35 – 45.  They are largely referred to as a generation  considered to be  “digital natives.”  Perhaps the fact that their 7 year old is browsing TikTok and YouTube is no big deal.

I’m not so sure.

Most of the kids that I meet are logging in about  7 – 8 hours a day playing games like Fortnite and hanging on TikTok.

They become quite “meltdowny” (a term I coined) when asked to  get off their devices and do things like walk the dog or to complete some schoolwork.

An article in the New York Times spoke about the issues (“Children’s Screen Time Has Soared During the Pandemic: Alarming Parents & Researchers” ):

“Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician who studies children’s use of mobile technology at the University of Michigan, said she did countless media interviews early in the pandemic, telling parents not to feel guilty about allowing more screen time, given the stark challenges of lockdowns. Now, she said, she’d have given different advice if she had known how long children would end up stuck at home.”                  

“I probably would have encouraged families to turn off Wi-Fi except during school hours so kids don’t feel tempted every moment, night and day,” she said, adding,  “The longer they’ve been doing a habituated behavior, the harder it’s going to be to break the habit.” 

I could not agree more, accept this “habituation” was going on well before the pandemic struck.

I see kids as literally addicted to these activities.

What do you think?  Perhaps offer some comments that I can post in the follow-up.


Copyright, 2021
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