The decision to when to give a child his or her first mobile phone is an important crossroads for many parents. At Honoralia, we understand the importance of balancing children's independence with the need to protect their privacy from an early age. As experts in the right to be forgotten and the improvement of online reputation, we know the importance of addressing issues that directly affect children's privacy. security and well-being of children and we are aware that children's access to technology is a hot and challenging topic for parents. If you want to know what the experts have to say about it or at what age tech CEOs let their children have access to screens, this is the place for you.
“Banning mobile phones until the age of 16, a proposal to prevent suicide and promote healthy development“
The influence of screens on mental health
In the last decade, the alarming increase in cases of teenage suicide has led to reflection on the possible factors behind this tragic trend. Experts have detected the connection between screen abuse and loss of coping skills.
Studies show an increase in depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation in adolescents who spend more time in front of screens. Screen use has contributed to an increase in suicidal behaviour among young people. Cyberbullying, recorded sexual assaults and the negative influence of social media profiles are just some of the threats identified.
Scientific studies, such as the one led by Jean M. Twenge, indicate that screen time linked to mental health problems in adolescents. Alarming figures, such as the 57% of adolescent girls in the US experiencing hopelessness, support the need to address this problem urgently.
Also of concern is the disturbing situation in Spain, where almost half of young people have considered suicide.
Development in the youngest children
Child development is a complex process involving both physical and mental factors. The first years of life are crucial for the formation of cognitive, emotional and social skills. The screen, while it can be a valuable educational tool, can also interfere with social interaction and time spent in physical and creative activities. Overexposure to screens has been correlated with neurodevelopmental delays in young children, according to recent studies.
It is estimated that 20% of Spanish children under the age of 10 have a mobile phone.
Eating problems and social skills
There is a worrying trend of children eating in front of screens, affecting internal processes essential for emotional and social development. Young children are affected, with neurodevelopmental delays and eating problems linked to overexposure to screens.
The survey of the Spanish Society of Paediatrics highlights the alarming figure that seven out of ten Spanish children aged 6 to 12 eat in front of a screen. Children who spend too much time in front of electronic devices are at risk of developing unhealthy eating habitsas they tend to be distracted during mealtimes. This can lead to disordered eating patterns and reduced food awareness.
The enemy of imagination and boredom
Screen time is also associated with the loss of essential social skills for adulthood. Negotiation skills, emotional management and frustration tolerance are compromised when children are deprived of the experience of dealing with everyday situations without digital distractions.
In a world saturated with digital stimuli, the ability to be bored and let the mind wander is essential for the development of the imagination. Constant overstimulation from screens can inhibit children's ability to actively create and explore their own imaginary world. Constant connection through mobile devices can also deprive children of the opportunity to experience boredom, a state that often triggers creativity and independent thinking. The idea held by most people that screens are useful to avoid boredom is a mistake, as boredom is essential to foster imagination and creativity.
Access to the first mobile
The trend in Silicon Valley goes beyond home restrictions. Many CEOs and technology professionals choose to send their children to Waldorf schools, which are known for their focus on the education without technology. These schools, present in the cradle of global technology, prohibit the use of tablets, computers and mobile phones, opting for analogue educational methods.
In Waldorf schools, such as the Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Silicon ValleyThe children of technology leaders study in an environment free of digital devices. These schools, with more than 160 in the United States, 40 of them in California, seek to providing education that fosters creativity and all-round developmentand moving away from technological dependence.
Surprisingly, the leaders of some of the world's largest technology companies have taken a cautious stance on this issue, applying restrictions and limits to their own children's exposure to technology.
Even the visionary Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, would not allow his children to use the revolutionary iPad he introduced in 2010. Jobs, according to his biographer Walter Isaacson, focused the interaction with their children in analogue activities such as reading and discussing books and history. The reason behind this decision was to preserve creativity and prevent excessive use of devices.
Another tech titan, Bill Gates, surprised the world by do not give mobile phones to your children until the age of 14.. Following the recommendations of the American Academy of Paediatrics, Gates limited phone use during meals and before bedtime. For Gates, technology should be used in a positive way and avoid abuse, adapting to the stage and purpose of its use.
Risks and opportunities of ICTs
ICTs offer unprecedented opportunities for learning, communication and socialisation. However, they also present significant risks, especially for the very young. From this breadth of pros and cons The current debate arises as to when it is appropriate to give children access to a phone.
- Unrivalled access to educational resources
- Encouraging self-directed learning
- Acquisition of fundamental digital skills
- Connecting with friends and family
- Accessing inappropriate content
- Loss of privacy
- Health problems
- Digital addiction
Establishing a universal age for giving a child a phone is a challenge. Rather than focusing solely on arbitrary figures, it is crucial to consider individual maturity, communication needs and the educational application of the device.
We understand that safety is a primary concern for parents. To address this, we recommend the effective use of parental control tools. These tools allow parents to monitor and limit access to inappropriate content, as well as manage screen time. However, we also stress the need to establish clear rules and limits, encouraging healthy habits in the use of technology from an early age.
The "Hot Potato
The difficult decision for parents about when to give their children a mobile phone is further complicated by the "hot potato". This term, coined by Gemma Martínez, highlights the responsibility sharing between the administration, schools and families on the proper handling of mobile phones; and no one has solved it. Teachers right now are "roasts". "They get a lot of problems of this type, cyberbullying, sexual images. They say they can't take it any more, that it's a family problem and if they don't start educating them at home, what are they going to do? This vacuum of responsibility is the "hot potato".
At Honoralia, we recognise the complexity of this debate and the need to consider diverse perspectives. It is essential to balance the benefits of technology with the protection of children's mental health and proper development. Regulation and education are key tools to ensure a safe and healthy digital environment for future generations. At what age would you give your child a mobile phone or at what age did you give it to your child?