Should my child have internet access on their mobile phone?

With the rise of smart phones appears to be the assumption that they all have to be connected to the internet. As the year draws to a close I hear parents talking about purchasing or handing a mobile/smartphone down to their child who is starting middle or high school. The ownership of a mobile phone is understandable. The need to have it connected to the internet is problematic. After many chats with thousands of boys and girls aged between 10 and 12 years there are 4 great reasons to reconsider the choice to have a child’s smart phone connected to the internet.

Mobile phones are the largest distributer of pornography

Average exposure to internet pornography is 11 years old, and by 15 years old 100% of teen boys and 80% of teen girls have viewed it. Curiosity is a healthy thing for children and teens. Most children will go looking for answers to their questions. This should be encouraged. Unfortunately the internet does not take responsibility nor has respect to offer age appropriate, positive and supportive information to your child in this area.

We won’t allow our children to drive a car in preparation for their L-plates, or encourage them to learn to drive by playing racing car games on the Xbox. It seems highly questionable to hand them a device that has unlimited access to the internet? When our generation wanted to know something about sex or relationships we would look it up in a dictionary/encyclopaedia, at worst a magazine. Now the internet is fast becoming the new sex educator.

Safety

Children accessing the internet should occur in common and public areas. Without parents and adults to supervise and educate children, their safety is compromised. Online sex offenders routinely locate children via the geolocation technology on mobile phones. The ease of taking photos and sharing them also compromises privacy and safely.

It very easily becomes their primary form of socialising

Online habits start early. If children use mobile devices from a young age with limited guidance and routine it becomes an appendage very quickly. As parents we are acutely aware of how tempting it is grab for your phone and scroll emails, social media accounts etc. Children not only experience similar responses but their brains are still forming and they lack the cognitive development to make decisions and challenge instinctual behavior. Buses are a common place for children to use mobile phones, we don’t want these the taking place of a face to face chat!

Eliminate issues of peer pressure

The pressure to conform for children and teens is very real.  “You are the only parent who won’t let me………!” Sound familiar? FOMO (fear of missing out) is a dilemma our young people have trouble managing. It seems like everyone else has something or is doing something we are not.   Reassure them that they are not the only one and that you have their best interests at heart. No is a loving word and after all you are their parent for a reason.

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