Essay on Should Every Child Have a Mobile Phone
“The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging”, – Margaret Heffernan.
As mobile phones are widely used by people all over the world, there is an opinion arise, that parents should let their children have their own mobile phones. Mobile phones or cell phones are a device that allowed people to receive and make a call to each other over a radio frequency link. It was first created by Martin Cooper, who is a Motorola researcher and executive, on April 3, 1973. As time goes by phone developer has developed various new functions in mobile phones rather than just making a call or receiving a call. Mobile phones were called ‘smartphones’ due to its diversities. People can use mobile phones to chat with people worldwide, play games, and even meet new people on social media. For instance, Skype, an app that allows users to face time people from all places. To add to that, mobile phones are seen as opportunities, especially for students as it helps students to do research and look for extra material for their assignment and task given. Not only that, mobile phones allowed the user to keep up to date on the latest issue and news, domestically and globally, therefore, people shall not be worried about missing the news on TV. Undeniably, many people own a mobile phone, which is not that shocking, however, it appears quite worrisome, when it came to the knowledge that many school-aged children who are only six years old to 12 years old and adolescents possess their own mobile phones. Studies reported by Child Wise shows, that most children own a phone by the age of 7 years old. The same research shows that the children spend about 3 hours and 20 minutes each day on the phone by playing games, messaging, and being online. It is scary to witnessed that mobile phones have become part of these young kids’ lives, and some of them up to the extent of not being able to live a day without a phone in their hand. Should these children have access to mobile phones, significantly when they have not fully grown and yet to learn about responsibility. Many evidence shows that having a phone at an early age exposed these children to health problems and psychological problems. Having a mobile phone is seen as a milestone for certain people, however, it is not a necessity that we should normalize. Children should not be allowed to have their own mobile phone as it negatively impacts health, both psychically and mentally.
Proponent to this idea is that children, both school-aged children and adolescents, are proven to spend more time on their screen than doing actual outdoor sports activities. Article, written by The Independent, states that children spend an average of four hours a day on their phones which equivalent to 456 days, while, an average over an hour and a half a day spent by these children playing outdoors which equal to 182 days only. In addition, research conducted by Persil on 1000 British and Irish parents revealed that about three quarters had used phones to distract their youngsters to do another task. This exposure leads the children to grow up addicted to the usage of the phone, which could negatively affect their health, including their mental state. According to reports by The Guardian, it shows that about 53% of youngsters own a phone by the age of 7, and 90% say that they own a phone by the age of 11. Some parents might argue that letting their children use phones is a good idea since using phones allows their children to contact them after their lesson. It was an acceptable proposition. However, earlier usage of mobile phones brings more harm than good. Firstly, the effect of mobile phones on these children is a risk of cancer or tumors. Studies suggest, if people spend an excessive amount on phones, it could cause tumors. There is still no clear evidence that there is a relation between using mobile phones and brain cancer. Nevertheless, from data collected from five European countries, there is an increase of acoustic neuroma due to 5 to 6 years spent on phones. Acoustic neuroma is a tumor that develops between a person’s balance (vestibular) and auditory (cochlear). Secondly, a possible tumor that could develop because spending an excessive amount of time on phone is a brain tumor. This is because cell phones radiate a form of energy called radiofrequency (RF) waves. Generally, the waves are not dangerous to actually affected people because they were not strong enough to damage the user’s DNA (genes) directly. However, an article written by American Cancer Society stated, that the amount of energy of RF-exposed on the user is caused by the amount they spend on the phone or if the person holds the phone to close to their head might increase the risk of brain cancers or tumors. Additionally, Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, stated that we should reduce phones’ usage as much as possible to avoid massive exposure of the cell-phone radiation.
Besides that, using mobile phones at an early age might lead these children to suffer insomnia. Insomnia is a condition in which the person finds it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. It can come and go, and for certain people, it can become chronic, which were called acute insomnia that could last for a few weeks. Article, written by National Sleep Organization, stated that there is a connection between playing phones and sleep cycle. The same studies stated the reason for this is because the light blue emitted from the phones restrain the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that controls people’s sleep cycle and wake cycle. This explains that using phones before going to bed might cause the children to suffered insomnia. According to a non-profit study by Common Sense Media, 29% of children bring their phone to the bed together with them. In correlation, this will cause poor sleep quality and contribute to poor academic performance. Teenager sleep range is from 9 to 9.5 hours per night, however, the article written by US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health shows that many American adolescents sleep less than 6.5 hours per night, especially on a school night. National Institutes of Health Researchers from University of California, San Francisco, stated that the blue light from mobile phones affected the user’s sleep cycle. The longer the time spent on mobile phones, the shorter your sleep time is. To add to that, using phones before sleep can trick your brain into staying alert. For instance, children might think playing games for a few times before going to bed might not be that bad, however, the truth is, it tricks your brain to thinks that you need to stay awake. The same studies conducted by the nonprofit Common Sense Media state, that teens have ‘an intense relationship’ with their mobile phones. Many teens use their phones before going to sleep, 1 minute to 1 hour, and 1-hour turn to 3 hours, which will affect their ability to fall asleep. According to Adams and Kisler for US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, about 40% of students awoke in the middle of sleep to answer their cell phones, and 47% of students awoke to replied to text messages. Research by Van den Bulck found that using a phone after lights off will increase tiredness, leading to poor performance quality at school or workplace.
Besides, the reason why children should not have their own phones is that having mobile phones at an early age will cause a negative impact on their mental health. The reason being is because another diversity of mobile phones is it allows the user to have social media to keep in touch with people or to update their outfit of the day for the world to see. Therefore, most children today own social media such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tinder. Moreover, According to Pew Research Center, about 45% of teenagers are online almost constantly, explaining that most teenagers own social media. Besides that, an article written by Amanda Lenhart for Pew Research Center showed, that 71% of teens from the age of 13-17 stated that they owned more than one social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Therefore, it is safe to say that most children are addicted to their mobile phones. How do we know if we are addicted to phones? It is when we feel anxious about not having phones in our hands. According to Child Wise, about 57% of children do not know what to do if their phone is missing. Mobile phones might allow you to quickly lookup your favorite’s cake recipe, however, with the good comes the bad. In their article, office for Science and Society stated, that those adolescents and youngsters who used social media more than 3 hours a day are more likely to be exposed to mental health problems such as depression, loneliness, or sadness. To add to that, a study conducted in England shows that youngsters or teens who go through social media multiple times a day are likely to suffer psychological distress. They tend to be less happy or feel less life satisfaction. This is because these teenagers tend to be persuaded by the luxurious that display on the Internet that makes them less happy and raises their insecurities because of the feeling of not having what they want. Data shown by Sydney Cognitive Development Centre, many researchers blamed mobile phones and social media as to why the numbers of depression and anxiety have risen. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, shows that the time teenagers spent on social media like Facebook has increased depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, anger, self-loathing, and loss of interest in daily activities. The reason for the increase of this symptom is because they engaged in social comparison, in which they compared themselves to others. Social media allows the user to be connected with each other and communicate with one another, however, the behavior of scrolling through social media mindlessly cause teenagers to feel self-conscious about their image once they start comparing themselves with someone else’s photo on social media. On top of that, using social media at a young age exposed the youngster to cyberbullying. They might not know how to address or overcome this issue for someone who is still young; thus, they felt depressed and encounter a few sleepless nights. Therefore, mobile phones’ dependency might affect the children mental health and increase the level of anxiety, depression, insecurities, and low self-esteem.
This topic has aroused people’s curiosity about the parent’s role in this matter and the right age to let their children have their own mobile phones. The truth is, at what age it would be appropriate for parents to let their child to own a phone is a personal opinion. However, parents can allow their children to use phones once they decide on a few factors: do they have a sense of responsibility or why they need it. There is a lot of reason on why one needs to possess a sense of responsibility, for instance as a matter of security. It is crucial for the children especially teenagers to realize that they should not give out their private information to the strangers such as ID, house’s address or bank’s detail. If the children are an active student and need a phone to contact their parents after their lesson, it might be a good reason to let them have their own phone. Mobile phones came with a GPS function in which it allows parents to detect their children’s location. Children nowadays tend to be more dependent, and sometimes they tend to go somewhere without informing their parents first, therefore, it is crucial for them to keep track of their children’s whereabouts. If the child is an active student and needs a phone to contact their parents after their lesson, it might be a good reason to let them have their own phone. Nevertheless, there is always another option to substitute smartphones such as basic phones like Nokia 3310 that allowed the users to make or receive a call without using the Internet. To add to that, if the children are responsible enough not to put an unnecessary comment on the Internet, then the parents can allow their children to own a phone. It is widely known that cyberbullying is one of the common issues that frequently happen amongst teenagers, therefore, parents should ensure their children are responsible enough to not put any unnecessary comment on the Internet before allowing them to have their own phone. According to the Pew Research Centre, 59% of U.S adolescents have been bullied and harassed online, such as name-calling and rumor spreading. Lastly, as parents, you need to limit the usage of the phone or the time they spend on the phones. Set a few rules of using phones, such as not using phones while in class or not bringing the phone to their bed. This will allow the children to be disciplined.
To conclude, mobile phones might have their advantages, however, using them at an early age might cause more negative impact than a positive impact. Just as stated in the previous point, using phones at an early age might cause a negative effect on the children’s health. Some people might say that using phones will affect not only the children but also the elderly, which I agree with. However, the children who use phones for the first time might find it hard to allocate their time to use their phones effectively. As for the fact, other’s opinion about letting children have their own phones for the sake of contacting their parents after the lesson, there is other alternatives rather than using smartphones such as use phones that do not consist the Internet such as Nokia 3310. Finally, parents should only let their children have their own phone when they are ready.
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