Toddlers with cellphones? How young is too young for a screen addiction

Toddlers with their own cellphones? Sounds ludicrous but I didn’t get my own cell phone until I graduated high school and now 7th graders are texting their friends. While watching TV I saw a commercial about a women with a flip phone. (you know, one of those super old phones that you had to flip open to talk or to see the screen.) Everyone around her had touch screens and smart phones. Even the toddler had a cell phone. How outdated was she?

But that made me think about kids and cellphones. My nieces and nephews were all well versed on the ins and outs of their parent’s cell phones. They will give almost anything to play Angry Birds at any given moment, while shooing away their younger siblings who are fighting for a turn. And did you hear about those kids who bought hundreds of dollars of games and ringtones without their parents knowing? Let’s just say that cellphones are now an all ages device.

Cellphones have become less of a phone and more of a personal mini computer/ planner/ gaming set and child entertainer. Cellphone app creators are even targeting young children when they create apps for smart phones. Can’t seem to make it out to dinner without your child having a panic attack? No problem. You can stream episodes of Dora the Explorer through your phone for hours of entertainment. But there is more than just TV shows. Games, learning activities and more can entertain children in a quiet setting for hours. And parents using smart phones to pacify their children are not alone. In fact, a recent poll showed that 40 percent of 2-to-4-year-olds have used a smartphone or tablet. And more and more parents are using this technology to keep kids quiet during errands, doctor visits and eating out.

With all of the temptation to use technology to pacify a child, I was impressed when my friend stated that both of her daughters did not know how to operate a cell phone. How refreshing. In a day and age when people have their noses (and their minds) buried in a cell phone, one mom strives to keep her child away from the cellphone. What kind of things will her kids be doing? Reading, coloring, playing outside or with friends.

It may be obvious what my feelings on children and cellphones are. To me, cellphones used to occupy a child at a young age is just bringing on the screen addiction at a younger age.

Staring at a screen is bad for you in a few ways. First, a lot of screen time can actually cause permanent strain on your eyes. Think this might be affecting you? Step away from the computer/phone/tv and give your eyes a break. Grab your health insurance and visit an eye doctor. You might need corrective eye wear.

Second, if you are looking at a screen there is a good chance you are sitting down. Not moving. A sedentary lifestyle is not a good one. Put down the screen and go for a walk. Good for your body and for your mind.