Smartphone users are getting younger by the day, but at what point do we stop to ask ourselves if there should be an age limit? Smartphones are changing the way our youth are engaging with their world, so Dr Anel Annandale joined us to shed some light on the matter.
What is the average age at which children are now receiving smartphones?
Most of the children aged 12 and up that I see in my practice own a smartphone. But many of the young children I see - aged 6 and up - own or have exclusive use of tablets.
How does it impact their social development?
There are various ways that it could impact their social development. Apps on smartphones may allow children to more easily coordinate social events but could have a negative impact on meaningful social interaction. Smartphone use is also linked to obesity, which further limits opportunities for social interaction as part-taking in physical activities like hiking, skateboarding, surfing, etc. with friends becomes cumbersome. There are also certain social-media sites which promotes self-centeredness while at the same time seeking validity and recognition for all they do. All of this increases both their exposure to and likelihood to engage in cyberbullying.
How does it changes their family dynamic?
Smartphones are likely to impact negatively on the amount of time parents and children spend together. They alter the way parents and children interact, such as asking google for answers instead of the parents. It also limits creativity, free-play and imagination - Instead of playing together, siblings simply play on their smartphones. There is also the problem of desensitization, as content accessible through smartphones might desensitize children to violence and cause them to act aggressively towards siblings or other family members. A positive spin off is that social media use often allow adults insight into their child's day and social life.
What are some parents doing to manage phone / tablet / screen time in their home?
Some of the tips for managing screen-time include only allowing usage in certain areas of the home or during certain times; Not allowing smartphone usage during the week; Chargers stay in parents room; Limit budgets for voice and data, and filtering content by blocking access to certain sites With young children parents can also create parent/child groups on apps like WhatsApp and insist that any social outings are arranged through this group