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Why Parents Should Consider a Dumb Phone for Their Kids
It doesn’t take more than a few minutes of basic research to find a host of sources highlighting the negative impact smartphones have on kids. I’ll run through some of the problems below, but for me, the biggest reason to avoid giving my kids a smartphone is spiritual.
Do you ever struggle to focus during prayer or keep your mind engaged when reading the Bible? Have you ever set aside time to be still and listen for the Lord to speak, only to find yourself constantly distracted every 10 seconds? Do you think that inability to focus has anything to do with the smartphone in your pocket? That device that has literally retrained your brain to be addicted to constantly scrolling through a never-ending supply of mindless rubbish? I want my kids to be able to pray longer than 15 seconds, to read their Bibles and then think about what they read, to sit through a whole church service, to grow in the ability to think, process, and listen for God’s voice—all of which requires reflection. Therefore, I will not give my kids a smartphone that destroys their ability to slow down, think deeply, and focus. Plus, I don’t like the idea of giving my kid a device that was intentionally designed to be addictive.
Smartphones are terrible for kids. A smartphone impacts their physical health through things like contributing to poor eyesight and obesity. It impacts their mental health—depression and suicide among teens have increased by 70% since the advent of smartphones. It impacts their social health, causing greater isolation and anxiety about self-image. Social media outlets like Instagram have been linked to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, especially among teenage girls. It’s even been connected to reduced academic performance and sleep disorders.
Aside from the documented problems, there are other reasons to say no to a smartphone for your child. Smartphones put the entire internet in your pocket. That includes all the filth and explicit pornographic content online. Every year, Americans spend more money on porn than on professional football, basketball, and baseball combined. Do you really want to hand your teenager a portal to the world of online porn? Sure, you can enable parental controls… but a lot of kids figure out how to beat them. And, what you define as inappropriate for your kids might not be the same as what Disney, Apple, Spotify, Instagram, TikTok, and Google define as inappropriate for your kids.
Even if you block porn online, you can’t block sexting. Three out of four teens say they have received an explicit text from one of their friends. Thanks to Apple, Samsung, Google, and other smartphone mega-corps, underage child porn is alive and thriving in every high school in the nation.
Smartphones are designed on purpose to be addictive. The more you use your phone, the more money big tech makes. No parent in their right mind would hand their kid cocaine and say, “Now, Susie, be responsible with this.” But so many parents give their 11-year-olds a highly addictive device that degrades their physical, mental, emotional, and social health—so many parents give these devices to their kids that when you don’t, people practically accuse you of child abuse. Let’s stop and think about this for a hot second. I choose not to give my kid an addictive device that puts him at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and health concerns… and that makes me the abusive parent?
At some point, Christians are going to need to live their lives differently than the rest of the world around us. Unless, of course, we want to experience the same levels of depression, loneliness, suicide, anger, anxiety, and substance abuse that the world around us does. If we live the way the world lives, we’ll get the results the world gets. I don’t know about you, but I want something better for my kids.