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At what age are you going to allow your child to have their first smartphone? This question has probably crossed your mind before.


Smartphones have become almost universal among children, with 91% of 11-year-olds owning one. But do children deprive themselves of a telephone or do they derive surprising advantages from it? It’s a very modern dilemma. Should you give your child a smartphone or keep them away from these devices for as long as possible? As a parent, you can be forgiven for considering the smartphone as a kind of Pandora’s box capable of unleashing all the evils of the world in the healthy life of your child. The bewildering array of headlines relating to the possible impact of children’s phone and social media use is enough to make one want to step aside. Apparently, even celebrities aren’t immune to this modern parenting problem: Madonna said she regretted giving her older children a phone when she was 13 and wouldn’t do it again not.

On the other hand, you probably have a phone yourself that you consider an essential tool for everyday life – from emails and online shopping to video calls and family photo albums. And if your child’s classmates and friends all have phones, won’t they miss something without having one? Many questions remain unanswered about the long-term effects of smartphones and social media on children and adolescents, but existing research provides some insight into their main risks and benefits. In particular, while there is no global evidence showing that owning a phone or using social media is detrimental to the well-being of children in general, that does not tell the whole story.

Most of the research so far has focused on adolescents rather than younger age groups – and new data shows that there may be specific developmental phases where children are most at risk of negative effects. Plus, experts agree on several key factors to consider when deciding if your child is ready for a smartphone — and what you should do once they have one. The UK communications regulator, shows that the vast majority of UK children own a smartphone by the age of 11, with ownership rising from 44% at age 9 to 91% at 11 years old.

In the United States, 37% of parents of children aged nine to eleven say that their child has their own smartphone. And in a European study of 19 countries, 80% of children aged 9 to 16 said they used a smartphone to go online almost every day. While a European report on the use of digital technologies among children from birth to eight years old found that this age group had “limited or no perception of online risks”, when it comes to harmful effects of the use of smartphones – and the social media applications they provide access to – on older children, strong evidence is lacking.

On the other hand, for some young people, a phone can become a lifeline – a place to find a new form of access and social network as a person with a disability, or a place to seek answers to pressing questions. on your health. Imagine being a teenager worried that puberty is going badly, or that your sexuality isn’t the same as your friends’, or that you’re worried about climate change while the adults around you are bored of it.

In fact, while smartphones are often blamed for preventing children from spending time outdoors, a study of children aged 11 to 15 showed that phones actually give children mobility. independent by increasing parents’ sense of security and helping them to orient themselves in an unfamiliar environment. Children said the phones improved their experience of the outdoors by allowing them to listen to music and stay in touch with parents and friends. Ultimately, buying a smartphone for a child is a matter of value for parents. For some, the right decision will be not to buy one – and, with a little creativity, kids who don’t have a smartphone needn’t miss one. Kids who are reasonably confident and sociable will find alternatives and become part of the group. After all, most of their social life takes place at school, most of the time they see each other every day anyway. In fact, learning to manage the fear of missing out that they feel from not having a phone could prove a useful lesson for older teenagers when – no longer constrained by their parents – they inevitably buy one. one for themselves, and must learn to set boundaries. The problem with the fear of missing out is that it’s endless, so everyone has to learn to set a limit somewhere. “Otherwise, you’d just be scrolling 24/7.

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