Kids these days and their gadgets

Working in retail, I can tell you nothing is more demoralizing than when a mom walks up to the register to cash out while their 13-year-old stands around glued to their iPhone 5c. The teen ignores mom as she unloads the cart that has $200 worth of clothes bought for her. Meanwhile, I’m 23-years-old and still have the iPhone 4s that has a broken volume button, and I never upgrade because that costs money and I am currently on a budget where I’m just thankful air doesn’t cost anything because then I’d be screwed.

Sam Grobart, a journalist for the New York Times, said in an article that, “It seems fairly ridiculous to equip your 11-or 12-year-old with a full-fledged smartphone. Its myriad capabilities, combined with a child’s — let’s call it what it is — terrible judgment is a recipe for headaches at best.”

I agree with this. And I also think cell phones for young kids is not a terrible plan, but why are you getting your 11-year-old a fully loaded smart phone? Why not just a standard phone? Maybe I’m just bitter, but my first cell phone was an ancient TracFone, which I don’t care what my dad says, it doesn’t count.

It was the size of a landline phone, whose only capabilities included calling, texting and playing the game snake, which sucked the battery out of it in five minutes. That’s it.

And it wasn’t even fully my cell phone. I shared it with my mom. And it did its job and allowed for me to call my parents for rides or let them know where I was at 14. And that’s where I think cell phone use is needed for these tweens/teens.

I understand the convenience of giving your young child a cell phone. We are in an age where technology is advancing so much, so rapidly and it’s only natural that more and more people acquire cell phones. But what does it teach your kids when you pay for them to have a phone like an iPhone for free? An iPhone is a privilege, and just handing someone something because it’s the norm in society is a bit outrageous. I’m not a parent, it’s not my call, but in my opinion, no 12 year old should get an iPhone as their first cell phone.

I hated having a TracFone all throughout high school. I had one until I was a senior, and the only reason I got a plan phone (the voyager) was because I was going away to college and got my first job. But having one and paying for it, taught me to be responsible with it.

Not to mention the dangers that come with giving such young children access to a phone and internet.

We live in a time when kids are growing up fast. Give kids a cell phone with high tech capabilities, like smart phones, and you’re giving them power.

According to an article from TIME magazine, kids may not be sufficiently responsible to keep track of a device or handle the complexities that can arise from being constantly connected to a cell phone, which includes such dangers as cyberbullying, sexting and overtures from strangers. All of these things are huge problems in our society, and having access to the internet and different apps of social media sites, only contribute and allow kids to partake in things like sexting and cyberbullying.

Also, in the TIME’s article, Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and co-author of iBrain adds to the idea that too much texting is bad for the developing brain.

“Our brains evolved to communicate face-to-face,” he said. “A lot of this is lost with texting.”

Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor and author of Alone Together, added that empathy and the ability to home in on social cues can also take a hit with the use of different social medias at a young age.

“There’s a difference between an apology and typing, I’m sorry, and ‘send,’” Turkle said. “Texting takes the messiness out of human relationships. It’s not our job as parents to tidy up the world and deliver it in little soundbites.”

Kids are so wrapped up in texting these days, it just seems that more and more time is spent doing things via iPhone than old fashioned face to face talking. When I was 12, I used to have to call the house phone of my friends to ask them to come out to play. I’m a pretty verbal person, and could successfully talk for hours. I think kids need that verbal interaction.

It’s like the doctors and professors say, the brain is developing at that age. I think if kids grow up with a screen in front of their faces 24/7, they are going to miss out on some basic parts of life. So put down the iPhone and enjoy being young. There’s so much more to life past a screen full of apps.

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