Before you decide to get your child that cell phone for Christmas, I want you to think about the potential dangers to which you are exposing your child. I personally have very strong feelings about cell phones, especially for young people. Too much cell phone usage is detrimental to children and teens. Childhood and teen depression is skyrocketing, which has led to a tremendous rise in suicides. In an article published by USA today, “The CDC found the suicide rate for children ages 10 to 14 doubled from 2007 to 2014.” Youth dying by suicide is now more prevalent than death in motor vehicle accidents.
What is leading to this overwhelming increase in depression and suicide in children and young adults? I read a very interesting article, With Teen Mental Health Deteriorating Over Five Years, There’s a Likely Culprit.“ The article stated: “What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short period of time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide? After scouring several large surveys of teens for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone” (Jean Twenge.) I’m no expert, but I must say that I am in TOTAL AGREEMENT.
So let’s cut to the chase, I believe cell phones are from the devil (or at the very least, used by the devil) in at least three ways:
First, Pornography is far too accessible on a cell phone. Back in the day, a person who wanted to view pornography had to be brave enough to walk into a store or rummage in their uncle’s or dad’s bedroom to get a glimpse of the trash. Today, a child can be exposed to this twisted and perverted view of sex almost without trying. Did you know that by the age of eighteen, 93% of boys and 62% of girls will have been exposed to porn on the internet? As a mother, this is reason enough to have my children stay away from their smart phones as much as possible.
Secondly, cell phones isolate children. Sometimes we may excuse our children’s excessive cell phone usage believing that they are connecting with friends, but connecting with friends “online” is not the same has communicating face to face. “Research shows that spending time with other people in person is one of the best predictors for psychological well-being and one of the best protections against having mental health issues” (Jean Twenge.) Texting is a mere facade of a relationship, and Instagram and Twitter posts can cause serious insecurities in children because they are comparing their real life to the pretend, perfect looking life of air-brushed pictures and snap-shots of happiness.
But the most serious problem I see with cellphones is the tragedy of the “selfie.” Forgive me for being harsh, but the selfie is no good for anything. Like I tell my own children, “If someone else doesn’t want to take your picture, you probably shouldn’t take it either.” Posted selfies cause a person to continually think about how they look or how other people think they look. My favorite kind of selfie to despise is the one where a girl wants onlookers to think she is pretty without others thinking she wants them to think she is pretty by making a “fish face” or sticking her tongue out. Many are fooled by this, but not me. Once a girl (or guy, heaven forbid) posts a selfie, there is the continual nag of “has anyone liked my status?” Or, “How many people think I’m beautiful?” Or worse yet, “why has no one commented on my photo?” Growing up is hard enough, but allowing our children to enlarge their audience of critics and “friends” by posting selfies for all the world to critique does not help a child grow up feeling loved or secure, but quite often the opposite.
So if your child is struggling with depression or seems to be turning out differently than the child you thought you raised, you might reconsider that cellphone. That upgrade may be their downfall.