Sunday, July 21, 2024
Smartphone news

Calling smartphone apps “addictive,” group wants handset ban on those under 16

Calling smartphone apps addictive, a group in the U.K. made up of parents called UsforThem says that kids under the age of 16 should be banned from owning a smartphone. In addition, the group wants a warning label placed on smartphone packaging similar to the warning placed on packages of cigarettes. According to The U.S. Sun, the campaign also has the backing of MPs and experts who want the U.K. government to prevent kids from getting addicted to certain apps.

Movement in the U.S. seeks to ban smartphones for kids under 16

Katharine Birbalsingh, known as the strictest headteacher in the U.K., told The Sun that since the U.K. bans those under 16 from engaging in sex, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, driving, and watching certain films, “Banning smartphones for under 16s is an absolute necessity.”  She adds, “Yet we make access to these and much worse via the smartphone so easy, done without parental knowledge, not to mention how phones break their brains.

A headteacher manages a school trying to create the right conditions for children to achieve their best. But Birbalsingh isn’t the only person of national prominence in the U.K. who believes that those under a certain age should not be allowed to have a smartphone of their own. British actress Sophie Winkleman twice moved her kids out of what are called “tech-heavy schools” and she supports UsforThem’s campaign to ban smartphones for those under 16.

Winkleman, who is married to Lord Frederick Windsor, son of Prince Michael of Kent, sounds like she has an issue with the digital world. “Being online in any capacity is addictive as hell,” she says. She also says that the constant use of smartphones and social media apps (TikTok is mentioned as an example) prevents children from learning. The actress adds that “The internet is a toxic wilderness we’re letting children stumble through without protection. I lived in California and spent time with bigwigs in Silicon Valley and tellingly they did not let their children anywhere near screens.”

Parents can control their kids’ phone usage on both iOS and Android

Can such a campaign gain traction in the U.K.? After all, there are plenty of parents who are happy to provide their under-16 kids with smartphones so they can stay in touch with their children throughout the course of the day, or to have in case of an emergency. The thing is, there are other ways besides banning handsets to limit the apps that children can use on their phones. Android handsets have the DigitalWellbeing app that has parental control while Screen Time will do the same thing for iPhone users.

Using Family Sharing on Screen Time, you can set limits on your child’s app usage by following these directions:
  • Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.
  • Scroll down and choose your child’s name under Family.
  • Tap Turn on Screen Time, then tap Continue.
  • Set up Downtime, App Limits, and Content & Privacy with the limitations that you want for your child, or tap Not Now.
  • Tap Use Screen Time Passcode, then enter a passcode when prompted. Re-enter the passcode to confirm.
  • Enter your Apple ID and password. This can be used to reset your Screen Time passcode if you forget it.

If you’re using Digital Wellbeing, open the app, and under Parental controls near the bottom of the page, you’ll see a link for Set up parental controls. Tap on it and follow the directions. Once you have it set up, you’ll be able to limit the amount of time your child can spend on a particular app each day (via Android). You also can set up your kid’s Android phone so that he/she will require approval from you to use and even install certain apps. You’ll also be able to manage in-app purchases your child makes and even lock his/her phone remotely.

So you see, you can have the best of both worlds. You can continue to have the ability to get in touch with your children while making sure that they are not using their smartphones to do things that you feel that they are not mature enough to do. And no banning is required.


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