Smart Phones for Kids

Smart phone or no smart phone? Thirty years ago you just wanted your child to know his or her home phone number and address, and perhaps your work number.  Now many parents want their children to have a smart phone wherever they are, so they can be in touch any time, and even so they can track their whereabouts.

As a society, we are still coming up with norms in this highly volatile information and communication age. As parents we wonder when and where it’s appropriate. At 6 years old? At 4? At 10? At the dinner table? Not in school? At grandma’s?

Many teachers are getting discouraged by the seductive distractions offered by smart phones in school. Just like parents, teachers and schools are experimenting with how to handle this issue.

Each family must make its own decisions about how to handle smart phone use. But it is important to know the facts, as many new studies and revealing information continue to emerge. Many researchers believe we have only begun to appreciate the effects of this new technology, even while it has become ubiquitous already in our society.

There are a number of different areas to consider, including effects on our mind, our health, and our social skills. We can only just note them briefly here.

The first is the effects on the mind. Because our children’s minds are developing at least as fast as their bodies, effects on the mind, especially memory, learning, and attention, can be life-altering in the long run. I highly recommend The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr.

If we thought attention spans were shortening towards the end of the last century, that was only the beginning. We have known for decades the subtle effects of TV and fluorescent lights on brain waves, concentration, and anxiety levels. Now we have the Internet and smart phones always with us. It should make us wonder if the dramatic increase in childhood issues with attention. burn-out, poor sleep, and so on are related to this huge change in our lifestyles and environment.

The second area of concern is our mental and physical health. It is hard not to suspect that the ubiquitous microwaves from cell towers, phones, and WIFI have a great deal to do with dramatic increases in unwanted mental conditions like depression, anxiety, mental fatigue, memory loss, and more.

European countries are way ahead of us in making society-wide decisions about how to protect our children. France, for example, has had WIFI removed from schools.

And our physical health can suffer too, because the frequencies emitted by our modern digital world are all alien to living systems. So much of our delicate functions of nerves, hormones, and enzymes are dependent on natural energy frequencies at the cellular and molecular level. It is more than likely that the new unnatural frequencies are affecting our moods, our hormonal balance, and ultimately the way each cell in our body performs its given task.

Our biggest killers, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and now prescription drugs, are all known to be affected by the stress our bodies must bear from unnatural chemicals, environmental pollutants, and electromagnetic pollution. See Cross Currents: The Dangers of Electropollution, by Robert O. Becker.

Finally, the effects on our social skills can be seen by almost anyone. Philosophers advise that happiness is largely a choice and is facilitated by staying in “the present.” But if you are walking with your child, your spouse, or your friend, and you are talking on the cell phone or checking the web for news, sports or weather, are you present? How does it really make you feel? Can you feel as happy as you would if you were 100% listening to your child, spouse, friend, or the birds in the trees, or even watching the plane overhead or the car passing by?

Whole industries are springing up devoted to teaching high school and college kids how to talk to one another or to job interviewers. Eye contact is almost a thing of the past. Yet have you ever noticed you can say much harsher things or more self-serving things if you are not looking at the person you are addressing? Human empathy is stimulated by looking into another’s eyes. I think we need more of that these days, not less.

For all these reasons, think about holding off on the smart phone until your child is at least 6 or 7 and then control the times of use and use the parental controls. They may want to borrow your phone from time to time before that for a game a school buddy is excited about, but be there with them, engage, and when it’s been long enough, find something else you can do together.

And shut down all screens before bed. Just the light from these screens has been proven to interfere with our day-night cycle and the quality of our sleep.

There are products today which can help to minimize the effects of ambient alien electromagnetic pollution by replicating the natural energy fields which living things have always been able to rely on until now. Even our pets are calmer and healthier when they have the benefit of these products, so you know it’s not all in our minds.

And children respond well to their parents taking charge of their environment, for their mental, physical, and social health.

You can find more detail in the chapter on basic needs in my book, The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents. 

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