TECHNOLOGY: Give a smartphone too young and you can hurt the youngster?

FT Magazine Mental health

A decade on, I still wonder if I was wrong to give my daughters a smartphone

  • New research links young people’s worsening mental health to the age they received their first phone

Gillian Tett 

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Either way, Haidt thinks there is “a classic collective action problem” making it difficult for parents or schools to impose controls or limits on phone use without “centralised norms”. He thinks, say, that schools should ask kids to leave phones in lockers while in class, but knows that parents might object since they worry they cannot “reach their child if something happens, like a school shooting”.  There are small signs of hope. In Texas, a “Wait Until 8th” grade movement has emerged, with more than 45,000 families signing up. And norms do shift, though as the history of tobacco shows, it took decades even with hard evidence of the damage done by cigarettes.  If you have young children, brace yourself for the battle ahead. If only some genius entrepreneur would invent a dumb cell phone that would appeal to kids but without the addictive lure of the internet. That would be real tech innovation. 

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This reinforces some concerns that my significant other has for her grandson.  It is addictive.  And, she does limit “screen time”.   I wonder how this all works out in the end.  Seeing other children in restaurants locked into tablets, I can understand her concerns.  I used to think “what harm can it do”; I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid.  Maybe it warped me?


Very provoking article.