There’s a revolution happening and it’s connecting our kids more than ever. Cell phone usage has edged younger and younger, as has cell phone ownership. A 2012 study found that nearly six out of 10 parents surveyed that had tweens bought a cell phone for those children. The study revealed that between 10 and 11 seems to be the “sweet spot” for tweens to get a cell phone, too.
“Before the training wheels are coming off their bikes, many children are getting their first cell phones,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud, in a press release. The National Consumers League conducted the study.
Of course, my older tween has asked for a cell phone, but by her tone of voice, I could tell she had little hope of receiving one (especially given the fact that her father and I have only “dumb” flip-phones). We have no intention of giving her a cell phone even as she enters middle school next year. We’re well aware that especially in the NoVa area, we are in the minority of not wanting our children to have technology by its very nature that is disconnecting, rather than bringing together. Here’s what I mean.
- Cell phone usage encourages rude behavior. Give a kid a cell phone, and you’ll notice that he will immediately start ignoring the people he’s physically present with in favor of the ones on the other end of the phone. This isn’t just rude to those around him—it’s also cultivates an overall antisocial behavior.
- Cell phone usage encourages instant gratification. When that call comes in or that text buzzes the phone, it’s nearly impossible for the cell phone owner to ignore it. The need to know who is calling/texting can be overwhelming and the owner is soon hooked on the addictive nature.
- Cell phone usage encourages less sleep. Studies have shown that screen time in the evenings can mess up a person’s cicada rhythms, and thus their sleep patterns. Giving kids cell phones younger and younger is a recipe for sleep deprivation.
- Cell phone usage encourages stupidity. There’s something about having a device small enough to fit into your hand that can make you not think twice about doing something you otherwise wouldn’t do, such as taking inappropriate photographs, filming friends or situations without permission, posting offensive comments. Cell phones in the hands of kids not remotely mature enough to handle the ramifications of such mistakes is a recipe for disaster.
- Cell phone usage encourages disconnectedness. You’ve all seen people walk around with their attention riveted on the device in their hand more than the world around them. More than ignoring the people in front of you, cell phones create an individual world that encapsulates the user, making her miss the wonders of a beautiful spring day or the sadness of her little brother or the silly antics of a puppy.
Of course, these can be true of any cell phone user, not just a tweenager. We must all be careful not to let technology take the place of people, or allow what might be take the place of what’s right here.