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How Cell Phones May Be Harming Your Child

While it makes sense to give your child the latest innovative technology to keep them ahead of the curve, a cell phone may be more damaging than helpful.

A recent article in the Economist,, provides a summary of findings on the addictive nature of the phone.

“Some participants in one study, which required them to sit alone without a smartphone for 15 minutes, chose to give themselves a painful electric shock to escape the boredom.” The authors conclude that technology companies need to take more responsibility for this problem of addiction to smartphones. But isn’t it the responsibility of the parents who are buying those phones and plans for their children?

When I give a parenting seminar and book signing, often parents will challenge me on the notion that their child does not need a smartphone until they are 18 years of age. They point out the need to always be “in touch” with their child and the need for safety as provided by instant access to the authorities should there be a problem. In most cases, however, the need for keeping in touch is a parent, not a child, request.

Building healthy boundaries is part of encouraging your child to grow up to be an independent self-confident adult. I don’t remember needing a cell phone when going out to play football on the playground or a school event in high-school in the 1970s. We seemed to do ok and turned out fine.

Lack of social skills is a significant challenge today for young people entering the work force, especially if they have had limited social interactions with the exception of a phone or portable device. Meeting people, looking them in the eye when conducting business or other social activities, will always be the preferred choice. Social skills and emotional IQ are now valued more than ever.

As a parent, ditch the smartphone you may have purchased for your child. If you are concerned for your child’s safety, purchase a phone that has voice only and no internet or texting-snapping ability. It will force your child to develop the skills necessary to be that strong independent adult child you want to raise. It will also avoid the danger of their developing a phone addiction, which appears to be the new thing in addictive behaviour. Have the courage to say “no” to your child and stand your ground when asked for a smartphone with data. Internet capable phones are not necessary, and may even be harming your child. As always, your comments are appreciated: Is this just my opinion as a Senior? Am I out of touch with what your children are facing?

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