If you’ve ever worried about the potential impact smartphone use might be having on your children, at least now you’re in good company. In a recent editorial in the Washington Post, Microsoft magnate and philanthropist Melinda Gates suggested that giving kids early access to the world’s smallest babysitter might actually have some down sides.
“Phones and apps aren’t good or bad by themselves,” Gates writes. “But for adolescents who don’t yet have the emotional tools to navigate life’s complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up: learning how to be kind, coping with feelings of exclusion, taking advantage of freedom while exercising self-control.” The real kicker, though? “I probably would have waited longer before putting a computer in my children’s pockets,” Gates admits.
If you’re one of those increasingly rare parents who have resisted the siren call of portable technology, you might be feeling a tad smug at the moment. But for those of us working longer hours than ever before and parenting in an era in which sending the kids out to play without supervision can get us into a heck of a lot of trouble, Gates’ words do give us pause. After all, she’s the MOST unlikely advocate for delaying kids’ smartphone use that we can think of.
Of course, even a tech bigwig like Gates isn’t immune to the worry that comes along with parenting kids of the iGeneration. We get it – this is uncharted territory, and we all want the best for our children. But at the end of the day, the jury is still out on how smartphones affect both kids and adults, and for every hand-wringing article proclaiming the damage that smartphones can cause, it seems, there’s contrary evidence suggesting that the kids, despite this strange new world of technology, are going to be just fine.
Kind of a comforting thought, wouldn’t you say?