Take a look at this photo. Remind you of anyone? Chances are, it does. According to Common Sense Media, 43% of kids 8 to 12 now own a smartphone. Is that a good thing? Many young people tell TIME for Kids that smartphones help them stay in touch with their families.
But child-development experts advise caution. “Young kids are not particularly well-equipped to regulate their smartphone use,” says Julia Storm, a digital-media wellness educator. The more time kids are on their phones, the more they can be exposed to strangers, bullying, and other dangers. Not to mention the effects on their health, including anxiety and sleep problems. Should kids have smartphones? TFK asked some, and here’s what they said.
John Garofalo, 11
Scarsdale, New York
There are a few reasons that kids should have smartphones. First, phones allow parents to get in touch with their kids easily. Parents can see their kids’ location and pick them up if there’s an emergency. Second is education. An app like Duolingo helps kids learn Spanish and other languages. YouTube can also be a learning tool when it’s used appropriately. Finally, smartphones help kids communicate with friends. If you move away, you can still stay in touch. This happened to me when I changed schools. Now I can talk to my old friends while I make new ones at my new school.
Yume Yano, 10
Foster City, California
Smartphones can cause addiction. A study by Baylor University found that college students spend about nine hours a day on their phones! Children are also vulnerable to addiction, because they’re not disciplined enough to set limits. They can lose sight of their interests, dreams, and schoolwork. Studies show that smartphone use can cause anxiety and withdrawal, harm relationships, and even damage kids’ eyesight. I’m not saying that kids should never have electronic devices. But they should also go outside, make art, and spend time with family. Why waste time on a screen?
Alina Hussain, 10
My opinion is that you can have a smartphone, but too much time on it isn’t good. Smartphones can provide entertainment, which we all need. But I know from experience that this can be addicting. Watching videos online isn’t the best use of your time. With effort, we’re capable of amazing things. YouTube won’t really help you achieve them. And looking at a screen for too long isn’t good for your vision. But if there’s an emergency, a smartphone lets you call your parents or the authorities. If you need to remember something, you can make a note. These are reasons that kids should have phones.
Alejandro Dieppa, 10
I think kids should not own smartphones. Constantly being exposed to blue light from screens could be bad for their eyes. Smartphones can also distract students from school. And studies say that teens and young adults who spend the most time on social-media platforms are more often depressed than those who spend the least amount of time on them. This might happen to kids, too. What about safety? Well, children should always be with adults, so safety is not part of it. With all the risks to schoolwork, health, and happiness, it’s not worth it for kids to have smartphones.
Logan Easton, 10
Mount Albert, Ontario, Canada
I think there are many good reasons that kids should have smartphones. The most important reason is emergencies. Kids can call for help, or parents can track kids’ whereabouts by phone. Another reason is that kids can talk to their friends and family when they are feeling stressed and anxious. Or they can ask a friend to come over. And then there’s the remedy for boredom: Kids could use their phones for games and other entertainment. Using smartphones lets us stay safe, communicate with friends, and have fun. Why wouldn’t we want kids to have them?
Emily McCann, 9
Pelham, New York
There are many reasons that kids do not need smartphones. First, they could get calls from people they don’t know and get tricked into doing things they are not supposed to do. Some apps could leak kids’ personal information. Kids might also be hurt by a mean comment online. They might not want to spend time with family and friends. And with a phone in their hands, they might not be aware of their surroundings—for example, when crossing a street. Phones can distract you from school, sports, clubs, and homework. These are the reasons that kids should not have smartphones.
The Next Debate! Do kids need homework? Email your opinion to email@example.com by December 30, 2022. Your response might be featured in an upcoming issue.
*Submissions have been edited only for length and clarity. They are not intended to reflect the views of TIME for Kids. Ages are accurate as of the time of submission.