Take a look at this picture. Remind you of anyone? Chances are, it is. According to Common Sense Media, 43% of children between the ages of 8 and 12 now own a smartphone. Is that a good thing? Many young people tell Time for Kids that smartphones help them stay in touch with their families.
But child development experts advise caution. “Young children are not well equipped to regulate their smartphone use,” says Julia Storm, digital media wellness educator. The more time children spend on their phones, the more they are exposed to strangers, bullying, and other dangers. Not to mention the effects on their health, including anxiety and sleep problems. Should children own smartphones? TFK asked some, and this is what they said.
Courtesy LAURA GAROFALO
John Garofalo, 11
Scarsdale, New York
There are several reasons why children own smartphones. First, phones allow parents to easily contact their children. Parents can see their children’s location and pick them up if there is an emergency. The second is education. An app like Duolingo helps kids learn Spanish and other languages. YouTube can also be an educational tool when used appropriately. Finally, smartphones help kids connect with friends. If you move away, you can still stay in touch. This happened to me when I changed schools. Now I can talk to my old friends while making new ones at my new school.
Courtesy Aiko Yano
Yumi Yano, 10
Foster City, California
Smartphones can be addictive. A Baylor University study found that college students spend about nine hours a day on their phones! Children are also prone to addiction, because they are not disciplined enough to set boundaries. They may lose sight of their interests, dreams, and school work. Studies show that smartphone use can cause anxiety and withdrawal, harm relationships, and even damage children’s eyesight. I’m not saying kids should never own electronic devices. But they should also get outside, make art, and spend time with family. Why waste time on screen?
Courtesy Sera Hussain
Alina Hussein, 10
My opinion is that you can have a smartphone, but spending a lot of time on it is not good. Smartphones can provide the entertainment we all need. But I know from experience that this can be addictive. Watching videos online is not the best use of your time. With effort, we are able to do amazing things. YouTube won’t really help you achieve them. And looking at the screen for a long time is not good for your vision. But in the event of an emergency, a smartphone allows you to contact your parents or the authorities. If you need to remember something, you can make a note. These are the reasons why kids have phones.
Courtesy Eduardo DIEPPA III
Alejandro Diba, 10
I think kids shouldn’t have smartphones. Constant exposure to blue light from screens can be harmful to their eyes. Smartphones can also distract students from school. Studies show that teens and young adults who spend the most time on social media platforms are often more depressed than those who spend the least time engaging with them. This may happen to children as well. What about safety? Well, kids should always be with adults, so safety isn’t part of that. With all the risks to schoolwork, health, and happiness, it just isn’t worth it for kids to have smartphones.
Courtesy Melissa Easton
Logan Easton, 10
Mount Albert, Ontario, Canada
I think there are many good reasons why kids have smartphones. The most important reason is emergencies. Kids can call for help, or parents can track the kids’ whereabouts by phone. Another reason is that children can talk to their friends and family when they are feeling stressed and anxious. Or they could ask a friend to come over. Then there’s the cure for boredom: Kids can use their phones for games and other entertainment. Using smartphones allows us to stay safe, connect with friends, and have fun. Why do we not want children to have them?
Courtesy ANNETTE MCCANN
Emily McCann, 9
Pelham, New York
There are many reasons why children do not need smartphones. First, they can get calls from people they don’t know and get tricked into doing things they’re not supposed to do. Some apps can leak personal information of children. Children may also get hurt by a mean comment online. They may not want to spend time with family and friends. And with a phone in their hand, they may not be aware of their surroundings – for example, when crossing the street. Phones can distract you from school, sports, clubs, and homework. These are the reasons why kids shouldn’t have smartphones.
Next debate! Do children need homework? Email your review to email@example.com by December 30th. Your response may be shown in a future issue.
* Submissions have been edited for length and clarity only. They are not intended to reflect the opinions of TIME for Kids. Ages are accurate as of the time of submission.
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