Although it seems like everyone’s children have access to-and know how to use-cell phones nowadays, even Bill Gates thinks there should be more limits on just how early kids use the technology.
“We don’t have cell phones at the table when we are having a meal,” Microsoft founder Gates told The Mirror. “We didn’t give our kids cell phones until they were 14, and they complained other kids got them earlier,” he said. “We often set a time after which there is no screen time and, in their case, that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour.”
According to Mashable, a report called Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today’s Digital Natives found that kids get a cell phone at an average age of 10.3 years, with 39% also having a social media account by the time they’re 11. The report also noted that “in the past, mobile phones were merely used by kids to have voice contact with their parents. These days, kids increasingly use them for a host of activities beyond simple contact with parents like games or productivity, enabled by smartphones.”
Aside from concern about screen time and attention spans, there are health reasons to limit kids’ cell phone usage as well. Cell phones emit electromagnetic fields (EMFs), also known as electromagnetic radiation. Using a cell phone means up to 80% of the radiation emitted can penetrate up to two inches deep into your brain. The effects could be even more harmful for children.
Read more about the risks of cell phone radiation for children
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies EMFs from cell phones as possible carcinogens. EMFs can interfere with the body’s natural electrical system and disrupt sleep, immune system function, hormone production, and the healing process. The substantial rise in EMF exposure has also been linked to chronic pain, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new official recommendations urging parents to limit their children’s exposure to cell phones. The recommendations suggest “exposures can be reduced by encouraging children to use text messaging when possible, make only short and essential calls on cellular phones, use hands free kits and wired headsets and maintain the cellular phone an inch or more away from the head,” as well as warnings against using cell phones while driving.
Cell phones have become part of everyday life for adults and kids alike, but if tech mogul Bill Gates can set limits on his kids’ technology use, we can too. How do you set limits for your kids?