Home » Opinion » Charlene Gail Taruwona » Smart Phones and Children Part 1

Smart Phones and Children Part 1

Nowadays smart phones are as common as a vegetable garden at a homestead. They can do more than just calls but also surf the internet. Mobile phones now seem more like a right for every member of the family. However germane as they may be, many a times we have left our toddlers and children with these gadgets unattended without even realising the negative effects they have on them. In this series we are going to discuss children, smart phones and the negatives.

“There are nearly three billion children and adolescents in the world,” says Zheng Yan, an associate professor of Educational and Counselling Psychology in the School of Education. “Most of them were, are, or will be various types of mobile technology users, interacting with and being influenced by mobile technology in numerous ways.”

According to the International Telecommunication Union, there are about 7.4 billion mobile phone subscriptions among the world’s population, accounting for 99.7 percent of all the people on the planet. As part of the special section Yan focuses specifically on child and adolescent use of mobile phones. “In this sense, young and adult mobile users are much more diverse than young and adult TV viewers, video gamers, PC users and online surfers,” he says.

I had my first cell phone, Nokia 1100, when I was doing my first year second semester at university (thanks dad – Mr Robert Taruwona). This is way later than when children nowadays get to have their first cell phones. I lost my phone during vacation and my dad quickly replaced it by the time I went back for my second year. To him it was an important means for us to communicate whilst I was away – no WhatsApp or Facebook.

This article came to me as a revelation as I wondered why parents buy their children smart phones. Could it be an issue of competition, not being confident in their parenting skills or just the need to feel modern among other things. Nowadays six-year-olds ask for a smart phone or tablet for their birthday and with the need to please our children, we buy them.

Maybe you can recall that moment when your child first held your smart phone and they swiped. It seemed to have been the cutest thing ever. Or that moment when they taught themselves how to use your phone and even play games. This made you so proud. I suppose it feels like the in-thing though important to note is that games and apps that involve the acts of swiping, zapping, puzzling, etc, encourage a different level and intensity of engagement but is there a get-off point?

Join me in Part II of this series as I deliberate on these questions’ parents may have:

  • Is it a good idea to buy my child a smart phone/tablet?
  • At which age should my child own a smart phone/tablet?
  • What is the relevance of my child owning a smart phone/tablet?

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