Pediatrician recommends waiting until 8th grade to give child a phone
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Nowadays kids are getting cell phones younger and younger. This is causing a movement nationwide called Wait Until 8th, empowering parents to wait until your child is in 8th grade before getting a smart phone.
Some kids as young as first or second grade are getting these devices and Dr. Nilong Vyas says that’s way too young.
“Many parents are like, well I need to know where my child is, I want to have access to them,” said Dr. Vyas. “So it starts off from a safety perspective but then it’s the world at their fingertips, right? It’s hard to contain.”
She says some kids can get addicted to cell phone at an early age.
“The way it impacts the brain is it hits the dopamine receptors which is your reward receptors in your brain and so each time there’s interaction with those devices, there’s a little bit of a high,” she explains. “Who doesn’t want to keep doing something that feels good?”
The “Wait Until 8th” movement helps give parents a general rule of thumb when figuring out the best time to give a kid a cell phone.
On their website, it says: “The Wait Until 8th pledge empowers parents to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade. By banding together, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone.
“They’re emotionally more capable of separating the immediate id -- I need this and I need this now,” said Dr. Vyas. “They have a little more tendency of making better decisions by 8th grade.”
Even so, she adds that parents still need to set boundaries and rules around the phone (and really any technology) especially at night.
“I think kids are so attached to them and it’s impacting their ability to sleep and sleep well,” she said. “Not only are they pushing bedtime a lot later, the blue light from the devices impacts their melatonin production which is their sleep time hormone production which allows them to fall asleep and stay asleep.”
Dr. Vyas says it’s important to take away your kid’s cell phone at least an hour or two before bedtime so their bodies can create the melatonin hormone and they can get better sleep. She says really, all of us should be doing that.
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