Try to imagine (or to remember, if you’re a parent), 15-20 years ago, the world existed without smartphones. For young kids, it seems that smartphones have been around since forever. They don’t know life without digital technology.
However, only 15 years ago, we lived without limitless access to information and resources our kids have today.
In a highly advanced digital world today, every kid has all the knowledge on earth at hand. Smartphones have made our lives much easier over the last decade. You don’t have to travel thousands of kilometers anymore to see your family and friends – you simply download one of the apps that allow you to make free video calls, send texts, pictures, and messages to other people around the world.
You can travel without fear that you will get lost in an unknown city – you don’t need maps and compasses anymore because the navigation system on your smartphone will guide you to your destination wherever you go.
Our kids don’t need to have a photo camera to take pictures, radio to listen to music, or alarm clock to wake them up in the morning. They don’t need to carry their agendas around or to wait to come home to check their emails and other messages. They can keep in touch with friends anytime, anywhere.
Our children don’t need to go to the library to prepare exams and find important information because all the world’s knowledge is just a click or two away.
Life works at a fast pace these days and it seems that the young population has no problem with that. But smartphones and technology do come with certain disadvantages, too.
The Downsides of Smartphones
You will often hear kids and teenagers saying they cannot survive without their smartphones. Kids and teens use their smartphones for everything, from communicating with their friends and listening to music to keeping their calendars and doing homework on their phones.
- Lack of Real-Life Social Interaction
However, for many teenagers, there are days before they have a real, meaningful face-to-face conversation with anyone. Because the social connection is just a few clicks away at any given moment, teenagers today are less likely to go outside and seek connection in real-life interactions.
- The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Many kids and teens experience the fear of missing out (FOMO) if they are not constantly online. One study revealed that 72 percent of adolescents feel as though they need to immediately respond to their smartphone notifications. The fear of missing out (FOMO) can cause cognitive distortions and affect a teenager’s behavior, causing depression, feelings of profound loneliness, low self-esteem, and anxiety.
- Disrupted Sleep
Good sleep is essential for healthy development. Many kids and teens are not well-rested because they stay up late on their smartphones. The use of smartphones and other devices before bed affects the body’s circadian rhythm (internal clock), inhibiting the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. This makes it difficult to fall asleep. Studies show that kids and teens with poor quality of sleep have difficulties with memory, problem-solving skills, behavior, and executive function.
Our kids cannot imagine their lives without smartphones today. It is important, however, to provide opportunities for children to develop critical thinking, imagination, and creativity while using their smartphones. In the world where kids are growing up surrounded by technology, it is crucial to help them set the limits toward smartphone and other devices use.
Take care and keep healthy and positive,