Cell Phones and Mental Health: Should Kids Have Phones?

Whether you like it or not, that time has finally come: your kid is ready for their first cell phone. Are you?

Before you make the decision to give your child their first phone, let’s have an honest discussion about the effect that these little devices can have on our kids’ mental health. 

What are the benefits of kids having cell phones?

First, let’s talk about the positive effects that cell phones can have on health. It may be surprising, but there are so many!

  • Phones promote safety and security. Phones keep your kids safe from many physical dangers, largely due to their ability to keep you in constant contact with your child. If your child feels unsafe or scared, you’re only a phone call away. In fact, psychologist Jean Twenge completed a study which found that the iGen (as she calls the current generation) is physically safer than any previous age group.
  • Your children learn responsibility, a key ingredient in maintaining a healthy mind. By having the responsibility to care for their device, kids with phones learn how to keep their possessions nice from a young age. This transfers to a greater sense of responsibility overall, which Psychology Today calls “the spark that allows help to help.”
  • Kids gain experience with technology when they have a phone. In our modern world, knowing how to use technology is an absolute must. By exposing your children to technology early on, their learning experience is much smoother and easier than if they wait to learn.
  • Phones give greater educational support through various apps and games. There are so many educational resources available on phones! There are also some amazing meditation apps and podcasts that help your children calm down after a long day of learning, leading to increased awareness and overall better mental health.
  • Increased social interaction is one of the benefits of a phone, and social interaction is paramount for strong mental health! During the pandemic, we became reliant on our phones to connect with far away family and friends. Thanks to new phone technology like Zoom and Facetime, kids are able to develop relationships with people that live halfway across the world. How cool is that!?

What are the drawbacks of young kids using a phone?

There are so many benefits to kids having cell phones, but there are also a few drawbacks. As with everything, it’s important to discuss both sides of an issue. So let’s talk about how technology negatively affects mental health in young children.

  • Sleep deprivation runs rampant when phones are involved. Even if kids aren’t on their phones before bed time (if they are, check out these ways to wind down without your phone instead), the residual effects of blue light make falling asleep more difficult than normal. This is because blue light halts the production of melatonin, the hormone in our bodies that controls our sleep-wake cycle. If you’ve never met a tired teen before, prepare yourself: they are grumpy.
  • Screen and technology addiction can limit kids’ ability to live a normal life. Technology is a great stimulator for education and creativity, but when kids spend too much time with their devices, they can often get overstimulated. In turn, it becomes difficult for them to take breaks or shift their focus away from their tech. So how much screen time is too much screen time? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.
  • Tech encourages less time outdoors. I’m a big hiker and outdoorsman, so this one hits close to home. Thanks to technology, kids are spending more and more time inside. According to the Child Mind Institute, the average child spends only 7 minutes a day playing outside and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen! This results in a lack of physical exercise, less time appreciating our beautiful natural world, and a potential Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D has been called the happiness vitamin, so get those kids outside!

How can Troomi help me combat these drawbacks?

While cell phones can be detrimental to mental health, we at Troomi believe that they don’t have to be. That’s because we choose optimism over fear. Here are a few ways Troomi helps combat the negative effects of tech.

  • You decide your child’s screen schedule. We know that everyone’s lifestyle is different—and every lifestyle deserves a unique schedule. That’s why we give you the ability to create a schedule for your child’s phone. Troomi’s Parent Portal makes it easy to set screen time limits, app time limits, and daily schedules. So if you want your child’s screen time to be limited, then their screen time will be limited! This helps combat sleep deprivation and tech addiction.
  • No social media! Troomi removes the risk of social media comparison by removing the culprit at the heart of it all—social media itself. By doing this, Troomi phones encourage your children to build lasting relationships with the real life family and friends around them instead of a digital version. 
  • No addicting games! Just like how Troomi removes anxiety-inducing social media, our phones also eliminate addicting games and apps. Instead, Troomi phones feature KidSmart™ Apps!
  • KidSmart™ Apps encourage your kids to explore the world around them. This carefully curated collection of apps encourages creativity, inspires education, and generates an all-around good time! I like to see KidSmart™ apps as the spark that ignites a fire of curiosity. Once that fire is lit, kids will stop at nothing to learn more about the world around them. This curiosity encourages children to get outside and explore, familiarizing them with the beauty and tranquility of nature along the way.

There you have it! Phones can be an amazing tool that encourages children to live their lives to the fullest, and Troomi is the best (and safest) option on the market. 

And don’t forget to keep an eye on the Troomi blog for more informative and entertaining reads in the future!