"One of my sons, I took it away, and it was a pretty dramatic, very violent outburst," said Dr. Timothy J. Farnum, a father of five who is an anesthesiologist by training. "He was very addicted to this little machine. It kind of scared me, and that's really how it started."
He and other parents believe smartphones are harming children. Instead of playing outside, or with each other, more and more children are staring at screens all day. That's not good. Instead of poking at their phones all day, children should be enjoying their childhood.
Besides, there's no real reason children should have smartphones. Most children under the age of 13 will not be using their smartphones for anything besides video games. Do children really need to be on social media or in constant contact with their friends over the latest elementary school gossip? There's no good reason for young children to have smartphones.
Others say it should be up to parents to decide when they want to give their child a smartphone. The average pre-teen probably doesn't need a phone but is that for the government to determine? That choice should be left for parents to decide. Who else would know what's best for their child? If your pre-teen is addicted to smartphones, that's on you, not the government.
"When youngsters leave our house to go somewhere, as parents, we often say, 'Where are you going? What are you going to be doing? Who are you going to be with, and when will you be back?' And sometimes, we forget to use that terminology when they're online," Shifrin said. "Those parameters stay the same regardless of what kind of media those youngsters are using, whether it's tablets, computers, laptops or cell phones."
It's a matter of personal responsibility. It's not as though there's some smartphone blackmarket for preteens. Stores are not trying to manipulate preteens into buying phones so they can get addicted. It's not a thing. It's parents who are giving children phones too early, doing nothing to set limits on its use, then freaking out when their child is addicted to their phone.