Maybe you believe that kids should not have smartphones because the devices can tell a pedophile where a child is located. But there’s other reasons that perhaps you haven’t thought of: cyberbullying, violent porn, online drug purchases, you name it.
Smartphones give kids ongoing Internet access; they can’t live without this constant connection because it’s the normality that they’ve grown up with. Children and teens are a product of their technological times and can’t imagine getting through the day without constant connection to the cyber universe.
An article in The Telegraph features a perspective from child psychotherapist Julie Lynn Evans. She points out that the striking increase in youth suicides and youth emotional issues (e.g., anorexia nervosa, cutting) is the result of constant Internet access.
Evans has personally seen the correlation; the driving force of the mental problems gets traced back to cyberspace and the smartphone. Remember the good ‘ol days when the only access that kids had was at the family room’s computer or even the one in their bedroom? You can’t carry that thing around.
Evans’ voice is supported by the big rise in admissions to child psychiatric units, having doubled in the past four years. Self-harm is way up too.
Though many people assert that the smartphone is only a tool and should not be blamed for suicide attempts or self-harming behavior, and that family dynamics are the fuel behind it all, Evans makes clear that smartphones are a big part of the multifactorial process of depression and turmoil.
Smartphones have changed the world; is it such a leap that they can cause the rise in youth psychological problems? Especially when the bullies can follow their targets anywhere? And it’s not just bullying; there are websites that, for instance, give tips on being anorexic.
Kids under 16 can’t legally drive, but they’ll always have legal access to smartphones. It’s up to parents to set rules and have conversations. At the same time, parents must take some credit for bad outcomes: A 14-year-old girl from a stable homelife isn’t going to take advice on how to drop from 110 pounds to 70 pounds just because her smartphone can connect her to a “pro-ana” website.