It is a very modern dilemma. Should you hand your child a smartphone, or keep them away from the devices as long as possible?
As a parent, you’d be forgiven for thinking of a smartphone as a sort of Pandora’s box with the ability to unleash all the world’s evils on your child’s wholesome life. The bewildering array of headlines relating to the possible impact of children’s phone and social media use are enough to make anyone want to opt out. Apparently, even celebrities are not immune to this modern parenting problem: Madonna has said that she regretted giving her older children phones at age 13, and wouldn’t do it again.
On the other hand, you probably have a phone yourself that you consider an essential tool for daily life – from emails and online shopping, to video calls and family photo albums. And if your child’s classmates and friends are all getting phones, won’t they miss out without one?
There are still many unanswered questions on the long-term effects of smartphones and social media on children and teenagers, but existing research provides some evidence on their main risks and benefits.