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Sign up to the get fit newsletter
Sign up for the ''Get Fit'' Newsletter
  • Tips on managing Stress
  • Ways to stay motivated
  • The benefits of resistance training
  • How to improve your metabolism
  • Learn why "conventional" diets fail
  • How to target stubborn fat areas
  • Healthy and tasty recipes
  • What muscle soreness really means
  • Learn how exercise affects your mood
  • How to choose the right health club
  • Weight loss and diet myths revealed
  • Flexibility, how and when to stretch
  • How to build personal motivation
  • How to conquer procrastination
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    Parents should think long and hard before giving their child any type of smartphone. Here are a few pros and cons about smartphones, ways to tell if your child is mature enough for the responsibility, and a few rules to go along with it. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Smartphone Ready

Is your child mature enough for a smartphone?

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

You may know this quote from Spider-man, but it was first written by the French National Convention back in 1793, and it still holds true today.

After all, there’s a lot of power contained in a small handheld device like a smartphone and with that power comes great responsibility. Are parents placing too much power in a child’s hands when allowing free reign on a smartphone? With the world at children’s fingertips, smartphones hold power to do much good and much harm.

Parents should think long and hard before giving their child any type of smartphone. And no, just because their friends have one doesn’t mean your child needs one. Here are a few pros and cons about smartphones, ways to tell if your child is mature enough for the responsibility, and a few rules to go along with it.

The Good

There can be benefits of kids having smartphones. Parents can stay in touch with their children and know their location at all times. Kids have access to apps for games, education, fitness, and connecting with friends. The Internet offers a wealth of information at the touch of a button.

The Bad

Unfortunately, the list of cons is longer than the pros. Children with smartphones tend to have shorter attention spans, trouble sleeping, and sore wrists. They’re more prone to be anxious and impulsive. Greater time spent on screens means less time being active and an increased risk of obesity. The easy access to instant communication and social media can lead to bullying, self-esteem issues, and stalking. Engrossed on their phones, kids are oblivious and antisocial to the people around them.

Internet safety expert Jesse Weinberger warns of the dangers of pornography and sexting. In a culture in which most children have their own phones by age 10, kids are first exposed to pornography by the age of 8, many are addicted to porn starting at age 11, and they start sexting in the fourth or fifth grade. Are such dangers worth having a smartphone to “fit in”? While the dangers of the Internet are still present on tablets and computers, a smartphone follows a child behind closed doors.

More than half of kids say they’re addicted to their smartphones and the majority of parents wish their kids spent less time on their phones. The only way to avoid an addiction for sure is to keep the tool out of your child’s hand.

Setting Boundaries

By giving a child or teenager unlimited free access to apps and the Internet you’re asking for trouble. You may think your child is trustworthy, but don’t be fooled. Any child’s innocent curiosity can lead him or her down dangerous paths. Before the age of 13 or 14, kids lack critical thinking and have trouble telling the difference between reality and fantasy.

If the goal is to fit in with their friends, there are ways to protect your kids from the dangers that come with smartphones. Find a phone plan that only allows phone calls and texts. Use the parental controls to set restrictions. Access to the Internet, contact updates, and app purchases can be turned off or password protected, so downloading apps require your permission.

Make sure your kids know the rules for smartphone usage and the consequences for breaking the rules. Educate your children on the real-life dangers when those rules aren’t followed. Many families set healthy boundaries that include no phones at the dinner table, no phones usage past a set time in the evening, and all phones collected before bedtime. At regular intervals parents have the right to scan text messages, pictures, and browsing history.

Remember—your children are your responsibility. If you put a smartphone in your child’s hand, it’s okay to be nosey and to restrict it in any way you see fit.