Technology

Turns Out Some Children Own a Smartphone

4th February 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Zoe Kleinman, writing for BBC News:

The amount of young phone owners doubled between the ages of nine and 10, which Ofcom dubbed “the age of digital independence”.

In addition, 24% of 3 and 4-year-olds had their own tablet, and 15% of them were allowed to take it to bed.

This doesn’t seem to bad to me. A smartphone gives people access to the vast quantities of information available on the internet, entertainment in the forms of games, videos, etc. and also a tool for communication with their friends and parents.

But there’s always at least one quote in these types of articles, to try and prompt a bit of outrage. Here we have one about not recognising the difference between the real world and online:

“I’m conscious that for these children who have never known a world without the internet, in many respects their online and offline worlds are indistinguishable.”

And also one trying to prompt outrage at the suitability for content on the internet for children:

“We are seeing around half of 12-15 year olds saying they have seen hateful content online, and an increase in parents who are concerned about it,” said Yih-Choung Teh.

I think the problem is not that children have access to mobile computing devices, but rather some parents tend to think that they don’t need to control their child’s usage of such devices. You look after them in the physical world, so surely you’d expect to do the same in the digital world.

Back before smartphones were a thing, people grew up without constant access to the digital world. But now they are so ubiquitous, it’s obvious that more younger people will have access to smartphones, and especially the vast internet. I think the responsibility falls on the shoulders of both the parents, the education system, and also the various content platforms.

However, I don’t think the fact that children use the internet, means that the entire web needs to be child friendly.