“I’ll never buy a smartphone for any of my children,” she says.
It’s a personal stance born of professional experiences. Stacey is a psychiatrist who works primarily with high school and college students in Fayetteville, Ark., and in her practice she routinely asks new patients to swipe open their phones and show her how much screen time they’re clocking per day. …Stacey is a hard-liner in a war being waged in homes everywhere as grown-ups attempt to limit smartphone use that they believe can be harmful to kids, even as they struggle to establish healthy habits with their own phones. And, big surprise, the parents aren’t winning. Because it’s not just their children they’re up against, but also a tech industry pushing products that insiders say are designed to be addictive and a society that has largely capitulated to the norms and urges and expectations all those phones and apps have created.
Even when it comes to kids. Fifty-three percent of American children have a smartphone of their own by age 11, according to a 2019 report by Common Sense Media. By the time they’re 16, 89 percent of kids have one. An earlier report by Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teenagers felt addicted to their smartphones and that 59 percent of their parents thought that was the case. All of this has coincided with a startling increase in mental health challenges among adolescents, which some psychologists believe might be tied to the adverse effects of social media use.
As Stacey sits with young patients who are grappling with anxiety or depression or lack of focus and can’t fathom cutting back their smartphone use, a single thought tends to run through her head: “This is so stupid, that these little devices are controlling these kids.” SNIP
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