Columnist addresses the growing trend of younger kids with their own smart phones

By Mattie Stevens, ’13

mattieAs you sat in the grass in your backyard, you traveled to another world where your Polly Pockets and Hot Wheels were real and you were the creator. At family gatherings you played hide and go seek and tag with your cousins. However, unlike the children of our generation, kids today are consumed by their phones. Playing outside becomes Doodle Jump, and tag with your family becomes posting posed pictures of yourself on “Selfie Sunday.”As technology becomes more prominent and accessible, the age of those owning phones continues to decrease. While there is no harm in owning a phone, boys and girls in elementary school are not yet mature enough to use these electronics appropriately and their overuse causes kids to not develop proper social skills.

According to theonlinemom.com, a website dedicated to teaching mothers about modern technology, the average age of those receiving their first cell phone is 11.6 years old. Also according to the site, 10 percent of parents report that their children were between the ages of 7 and 9 when they received their first phone.

This trend begins with the innocence of children needing the ability to contact their parents. And with the massive take over of the cellphone market by Apple, smartphones have become a much more common appearance in the hands and pockets of Americans, and increasingly, those Americans are also including elementary school children. This is where many of the problems stem. Now, kids can text, video chat and buy music and apps in addition to calling home.

While many people in the generation above us might argue that high school students are overly obsessed with technology, I refute that by saying that we use it in moderation. While we do use more technology than those older than us, it is only because iPhones and laptops were not available to the generation before us to for them to utilize. However, young adults have access to the same technology as elementary school kids and teens, however we are not glued to our phones like they are.

Not only is it aggravating that 10-year-olds are wasting their time with their noses stuck to the screen playing Doodle Jump and Temple Run, but I worry for the implications it will have on the functionality of their social skills. Instead of playing baseball in the backyard, they play Angry Birds in their basements. Children who spend lots of time on their phones have less social interaction, which is critical to developing social skills that are used in everyday adult life. Being able to have meaningful in-person conversations and interact appropriately is a major aspect of many jobs.

The next generation needs to dial back their phone use and find a way to strike up a good conversation with a friend. Call the neighbor over to shoot some hoops or fish out the chalk bin, but try to refrain from Instagramming your drawings with the shadow of your peace signs. #soartsy

iPhoneRattle