The case for depriving your child (or even yourself) of a smartphone

For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (Mark 4:25)

Smartphone technology is a double-edged sword; it is neither completely evil nor completely beneficial. More and more, I see around me the evidence of a growing inequality — and not just in income.

Examining myself and the people around me, I have come to the conclusion that smartphones are only making the success-and-achievement gap larger. For people who can delay gratification (read about the psychological principle here and here), the smartphone is the path to greater knowledge and power. For people who are victim to their strongest urges, the smartphone is a drug that never fully satisfies. This results in the powerful becoming more powerful, and the weak becoming weaker.

Several successful people I know are heavy smartphone users. They use their devices to make cheap conference calls, to send fast email replies, and to challenge their minds via ebooks or online lectures. On the flip side, we are all too familiar with the potential pitfalls of technology, from the candy crush addict who spends thousands of dollars on the game, to the television zombie who exists almost solely for the rush of prepackaged entertainment — I am victim to the too-much-internet disease at times.

If you are considering buying a smartphone for your child, consider this: can s/he resist the temptations that smartphone technology offers? The smartphone offers the greatest novels ever written, and profoundly addictive gaming experiences — both for free. What will your child choose? Share with your child your concerns, especially if s/he is old enough to understand.

An article that can start a discussion about the dangers of owning a smartphone is this gem — Woman stole £1,000 from disabled mother to feed Candy Crush addiction (The Telegraph). Of course your child may tell you that this will never happen to good children; if your child is even more perceptive, s/he may tell you that the woman is newsworthy precisely because she is somewhat outside of “normal”.

It will be beneficial for all of us — adults or children — to consider what technology is doing to us. It is brilliant that most of us have access to palm-sized computers now. But do we really need all that entertainment at our fingertips?


 

Mr Seah is a private tutor who is consciously expanding his online identity to include his singer-songwriter persona “Kevin Ghosty”. Read more here.

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