The amount of screen time people — particularly children — are getting these days has been worrying psychologists, governments, and tech giants across the world. Now a German child psychologist, Julia von Weiler, has suggested that the German government impose an age limit on the use of smartphones.
As the Washington Post reported, von Weiler is concerned about the exposure of children to sexually explicit images and sexual abuse by strangers online. As such, she has advised a ban on smartphones for children under the age of 14.
“Just as we protect children from alcohol or other drugs, we should also protect them from the risks of using smartphones at too early an age,” said von Weiler.
It’s not only psychologists who have growing concerns about children having such easy and continued access to the internet. Many parents have also imposed daily limits on the amount of time their children are allowed to be on their phones, or even waiting until their children are older to purchase them a phone in the first place.
Tech companies have also started doing their part to protect children and aid parents, with both Google and Apple releasing applications that will allow parents to track their children’s screen time so that they can potentially monitor what their children are looking at.
A German child psychology expert and adviser to the German government says children younger than 14 should not be allowed to use smartphones,... https://t.co/yK9ufIsJNg— Amy McCready (@AmyMcCreadyPPS) February 19, 2019
Despite a sound argument for restricting or banning smartphones from the youngest and most impressionable in society, there are those that have criticized the proposed move for only being able to do half the job.
“A law restricting the age for using smartphones would possibly be a quick and apparently simple solution,” Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, Germany’s independent commissioner for child sexual abuse issues, said.
He also added that while it might protect children from the dangers of the internet on their phone, it wouldn’t remove that harmful content from the internet at all and they would still be able to access it or be at risk from abusers on computers.
Germany is not the only place where cell phones for children are being regulated. In neighboring France, legislation was recently introduced to ban cell phones in schools. Those eight hours at school will give children and teens some much need screen-free time every day during the week, at least, and will limit their cell phone use to after school hours only.
New studies also indicate that most teenagers respond to messages immediately upon receipt, with many parents believing their children are addicted to their mobile devices. Another study showed that the increase in cell phone access has also decreased the amount of reading seniors in high school do over the years, something which could also be affecting their mental and academic development.