submitted 1 month ago by MicroWave to c/news

Nearly a quarter of UK five-to-seven-year-olds now have their own smartphone, Ofcom research suggests.

Social media use also rose in the age group over last year with nearly two in five using messaging service WhatsApp, despite its minimum age of 13.

The communications regulator warned parental enforcement of rules "appeared to be diminishing."

It also said the figures should be a "wake up call" for the industry to do more to protect children.

In its annual study of children's relationship with the media and online worlds, Ofcom said the percentage of children aged between five and seven who used messaging services had risen from 59% to 65%.

The number on social media went up from 30% to 38%, while for livestreams it increased from 39% to 50%. Just over 40% are reported to be gaming online - up from 34% the year before.

Over half of children under 13 used social media, contrary to most of the big platforms' rules, and many admitted to lying to gain access to new apps and services.

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[-] [email protected] 44 points 1 month ago

Having a smartphone or social media access by themselves are not an issue. Having unrestricted access to a smartphone as a young child is a serious issue, both in terms of the amount of time they potentially spend on it and the content they may come across.

[-] Son_of_dad 20 points 1 month ago

I can't see a benefit of a 5 year old having a smart phone at all

[-] [email protected] 9 points 1 month ago

Hard agree here, I couldn't imagine my 6 yo having a smartphone or tablet. When we have screen time, we watch TV, movies, or play video games together.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 month ago

My kids don't, but some neighbor kids have them as basic gps/texting for their parents.

Gps to know where they are, and texting to go home for dinner. I've never seen them browsing or calling.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

My grandma used to lock the door and tell my dad to come home at dinner back in St. Louis suburbs in the 70's. You gotta let kids roam and be free to an extent.

[-] BertramDitore 2 points 1 month ago

Yeah I spent probably 80% of my childhood out of the house around the neighborhood, at the park, playing with random kids who happened to be around, exploring, riding bikes, walking around town, finding cool new spots in the woods, finding old playing cards with pictures of risqué ladies stashed in a tree somewhere. No direct adult supervision.

The rule was to be back by dinner, or to call from a friend’s house with a good reason for being late.

I frankly think the world is a lot safer now than it was then, so it’s really sad that this isn’t as common in the US anymore.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

Even i grew up that way 20 years ago. My parents are super chill and outgoing so they are always friends with everyone in the neighborhood. They knew who we liked to play with and where we likely were so they only had to make a couple calls to get us home in an emergency. Even when i finally got a cell phone and a car o can't think of too many times my parents had to call to see where i was and demand me to come home.

[-] Son_of_dad 1 points 1 month ago

Like a little 5 year old? That's wild to me

[-] [email protected] -1 points 1 month ago

Well you dont need a smartphone for that. Plenty of "dumb phones" and senior citizens phones on the market to use for that purpose. Or hell, un-dust the old Nokia.

[-] [email protected] 12 points 1 month ago

Social media is provably harmful to children, imo it should be completely cut off until at least age 12 or 13

[-] FlyingSquid 7 points 1 month ago

I agree with you. It's certainly possible, and quite easy, to give a young child a smartphone or tablet with restricted access to everything but a few games and YouTube kids and, as long as you keep an eye on things to make sure that YouTube Kids hasn't fucked up and is showing adult material (I don't think that's happened in quite a long time), it just becomes "interactive device + TV" which is basically what kids have had for decades as separate things. This just combines them and makes them portable.

[-] [email protected] 9 points 1 month ago

I would never trust YouTube kids ever. If its not an entirely separate platform it is not worth it with YouTube.

Something like Netflix is way more trustable since they control their content. Well, until they start adding ai generated crap and ads, then its goodbye Netflix too.

[-] FlyingSquid -2 points 1 month ago

Removing the YouTube app but not the Netflix app would be the option in that case. It's still not an argument against them having them at all.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago

I agree it's all about access and boundries.

My 2yo neice has a designated smartphone, but she only gets it for short periods. My sister picks the app and locks the phone so that the app cant be exited. For things like going out to dinner, it's incredibly useful & I don't think damaging.

All she watches is miss rachel, lol maybe some bluey or aquarium feeds.

I think her having a phone is mostly useful so that there is one to give her without worrying about your nice expensive device getting grubby kid hands all over it.

[-] snekerpimp 24 points 1 month ago

So we are just going to destroy ourselves psychologically? Just going to make the next generation exponentially more depressed and miserable until society is what? A bunch of sad zombies?

[-] FlyingSquid 3 points 1 month ago

Fascism is on the rise, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a minute percentage of the population and the ecosphere is dying. I don't think smartphones are needed to make the next generation more depressed and miserable. Or the ones to come after it.

[-] eran_morad 1 points 1 month ago

Bruh, its been that way for like 25 years already.

[-] Clent 9 points 1 month ago

~~Rock music is destroying our children~~

~~Tv is destroying our children~~

~~Video gaming is destroying our children~~

Smartphone use is destroying our children.

[-] FlyingSquid 9 points 1 month ago

This literally goes back to Socrates.

For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem [275b] to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.

So apparently writing was destroying our children. Ironically, we only know that because it was written down.


[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 month ago

We used to call this "democratization of technology" and say it was a good thing. Why are we now that it is happening supposed to think it is a bad thing?

I am glad I do not have or want children. I would not want to be in a position where I might be the one controlling someone else's access to information. I do not know at what age I would buy a smartphone for them, but I do know that if they had one they would be allowed to use it freely without surveillance.

[-] EtherWhack 7 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Unmonitored or unrestricted, no. Just no...

There are too many bad people out there and young children don't always know how to keep their info hidden. The risk is just too high. Even one out of a million kids finding one of those unsavory people, would be too much. Think about if your hypothetical child found that one child predator and they got them to share whatever, like pictures; their school/schedule; etc.

Just look at roblox, a game more or less built and intended for children. There's been quite a few reports of kids being preyed upon to which they have several lawsuits against them for giving a false sense of safety.

E: fixed name

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

I grew up with stranger danger ... and honestly fuck that philosophy. I do not support normalizing invasive surveillance and restricting the Internet in the name of "safety."

Yes, there are bad people in the world but there are also a lot of good people. It's better to teach people what to look out for and to keep an open line of communication and trust vs "this is the great firewall of our house" and scaring them away from any and all strangers.

The people I grew up with that have the most issues as adults have come from the most authoritarian, paranoid, (and typically religious) households by far.

[-] FenrirIII 1 points 1 month ago

Please don't have children then, because you really don't understand the reality of a connected world.

[-] FlyingSquid 4 points 1 month ago

Some More News just did an episode about how many smartphone fears are likely overblown.

Is it bad for kids aged 5-7 to have smartphones? Is it worse than the pre-smartphone era when kids that age watched hours of TV instead?

No one knows.


[-] [email protected] 8 points 1 month ago

Is it bad for kids aged 5-7 to have smartphones? Is it worse than the pre-smartphone era when kids that age watched hours of TV instead?

It is absolutely worse. There are horrific things on the internet, and lots of fucked up ideas. Before smartphones there was cable, where you had 75 channels of often vapid but vetted content.

[-] FlyingSquid 4 points 1 month ago

First of all, there were horrific things on TV news all the time before smartphones, and on cable TV which was not vetted because it is not overseen by anyone. The FCC has no power over it. That's why there are porn channels.

Secondly, you're talking about unrestricted internet access, not smartphone access. Those are entirely separate things. It is very easy to make a smartphone child safe.

[-] [email protected] 8 points 1 month ago

Thinking even a simple majority of parents who give their 5 year olds smartphones are using any kind of parental control is a naive fantasy.

Separately, there were no 5 year olds watching the nightly news by themselves in their bedrooms, but regardless, scenes on TV news and TV as a whole are pale in comparison to what's available on the internet. Cable channels were absolutely vetted lmao...they were productions of large media conglomerates that had no interest in risking profits. Porn channels were rare, and required extra effort to access. We're not talking about 13 year olds staying up late to catch a boob on Cinemax

[-] FlyingSquid 1 points 1 month ago

That sounds like a parenting issue, not a smartphone issue.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

Smh the two are inextricable. Yet here you are judging all the parents who aren't giving their children smartphones...

[-] FlyingSquid 1 points 1 month ago
[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago
[-] FlyingSquid 0 points 1 month ago

That wasn't criticizing them for not choosing to give their kid a phone, that was criticizing them for not choosing to give their kid a phone because it is a "mind sucking waste" as if that sort of language hasn't been used to describe TV and video games.

[-] [email protected] 0 points 1 month ago
[-] FlyingSquid 0 points 1 month ago

You're free not to believe me, but I do think I have a better idea of what I was talking about than you do.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

I wish I would've had something like that as a kid honestly. Keeping in touch with my friends and classmates over the summer ... being able to share my imaginary world I built in my brother / our dams, bridges, etc would've been really cool. It also would've made rural Ohio summers far less socially isolating.

I see some comments about social media; I don't think most social media is healthy for anyone to spend an extended time on, but being able to message, call, and video chat friends ... to look up some information or get ideas for how to improve my projects... to play a game with friends over the Internet... All of that could've been super nice.

Similarly with the "bad people", the risk of a completely open to the Internet smart phone is ... so small. An elementary school student isn't going to have the tech literacy to really get themselves into trouble. I mean think about your day to day usage of the Internet, how much unsavory content do you come across without explicitly seeking it out? For me, it's basically 0. If you remove social media from the equation, it almost definitely is 0. If you go searching for something bad... You'll find it, but kids aren't going to go searching for that stuff unprompted...

The one generational "oh crap" question I can think of is "how are babies made?" but I mean literally just searched that to check, you find explanation videos using anatomical drawings (like you'd find in a textbook) that might have a kid going "oh my god, what??" In the US, I could definitely see some parents freaking out about that... But really, it's just harmless information about how life works that we adults tend to get all uncomfortable about (arguably because religious texts/organizations speak of sex in this taboo tone).

this post was submitted on 19 Apr 2024
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