Today, more than 75% of the French population has a smartphone, a figure that rises to 90% when we talk about teenagers between 12 and 17 years old. If owning a smartphone is within the norm, the dangers linked to the development of the child that can be associated with it are not to be taken lightly.
How can we protect children from the sometimes dangerous consequences of daily smartphone use while respecting their privacy? Follow our tips to help your teen hang up.
Nowadays, the use of the smartphone has become widely democratized. Generation Z young people, the digital generation par excellence, spend about four hours of their day surfing the Internet and chatting with their friends. CSA Research, which specializes in opinion polls, also indicated in 2018 that more than a third of 10-15 year olds consult their smartphone at least fifty times a day .
These impressive figures, however, hide a first benevolent intention on the part of the parents who equip their children:to reassure themselves by having the possibility of joining them and helping them to maintain a social bond. Beyond the frequent questions about the ideal age to equip your children, many concerns are emerging, in particular the question of the dangers of the smartphone on the lives of young users. Cyberbullying, easy access to inappropriate and shocking content, incitement to hatred, the statistics are clear:more than 20% of 11-15 year olds have already been confronted with these digital-related abuses.
Enemies number 1 for vision, screens cause a decrease in visual acuity because of the blue light they reflect. Did you know ? Many smartphones have a blue light filter that you can activate for immediate comfort. Screens also have harmful effects on sleep. They reduce the secretion of melatonin, a sleep hormone and therefore delay falling asleep.
Are you familiar with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)? The smartphone is one of the main culprits. The position that the user adopts to look at his screen causes pain in the neck or more broadly in the back. Finally, screen addiction plays a major role in weight gain and obesity in children, because it very often leads to a drop in physical activity:time spent on your phone is less to spend outside!
Today, nearly 80% of young children and adolescents are registered on social networks with Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram prancing in the lead. Beyond the fashion effect and the race for likes or followers, this phenomenon brings together a real feeling of belonging to a community, a feeling that is often strong for young children who are looking for themselves. However, these world-famous social networks are not without danger.
Cyberbullying results, for example, in harassment conducted digitally with often insults, mockery or gossip broadcast and sometimes shared by many people. They lead to a deterioration of self-image and mental and physical health. In this context, dietary deviations such as anorexia or bulimia can affect the youngest and most fragile.
One of the main concerns of parents who choose to equip their children with a smartphone is to be able to control the content that can be viewed.
At 12, more than 30% of children have already been confronted with pornographic images, most of them unintentionally. Exposure to this type of content can cause trauma and offer an erroneous view of sexuality:hypersexualization of the youngest by imitation, birth of complexes, repetition of gestures that can harm the relationship between young people, etc.
Moreover, violence is one of the most formidable scourges to which children have easy access on certain video platforms. Videos that promote verbal and physical abuse or incite hatred proliferate on the Internet. Violence is becoming commonplace on the screens of adolescents and creates a fertile ground for the birth of deviant behavior such as mood disorders or withdrawal into oneself.
According to Médiamétrie, a company specializing in audiovisual and digital media audience measurement, the average age of children equipped with a mobile phone is nine years and nine months. As for the smartphone with Internet access, children acquire it around the age of 13 according to the incumbent operator Bouygues Télécom. The Facebook social network also only opens its doors from the age of 13, in accordance with pediatric recommendations. You don't want to ban your child's smartphone, but you don't feel ready to allow him access to the web and its excesses? Why not invest in a mobile phone without Internet access? With SMS and calls, he will have a secure way to communicate with his friends or loved ones.
In order to protect your children against the dangers of smartphones, you have to find the right balance between respect for privacy and increased surveillance while maintaining a climate of trust. In other words, you will need to avoid hypervigilance while interacting with your teenager.
Many parents choose to put rules in place like:
You can also choose to install a parental control app on your child's smartphone. It acts as a regulator and limits access to sites identified as malicious.
Did you know that these applications also allow you to limit the duration of smartphone use?
France has made the fight against the dissemination of shocking images one of its main battles for the protection of young people. Thus, the CSA created the youth signage with the pictograms prohibited for -10, -12, -16 or -18 years. Initially created for television, this signage is used by some video on demand sites such as Youtube. The interest is twofold:to give an indicator to parents to adapt the authorized content and to play a dissuasive role.
Prevention against the misuse of the smartphone also led in 2018 to its total ban in schools for:
Finally, the State very recently set up a platform to help in the fight against the exposure of pornographic images among young audiences.
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If the smartphone represents a real danger for teenagers, is it the only one responsible for the overflows that result from it? The need to help young audiences in this difficult period is well established. Supporting your child by keeping the door open to discussion in all circumstances is the key to a harmonious atmosphere of understanding.