When is a child not a child?
Do you think children should have mobile phones?
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Child Act 1989, a child is defined as someone under the age of 18.
There are, however, anomalies to the laws relating to young people in the UK which allow certain actions from the age of 16. Namely, a child is free from parental control, can leave home, get married, start a family, start work, pay taxes or join the forces.
So how can it be right that children under the age of 16 are allowed to be in possession of a mobile phone—which, in reality, gives them access to the world and all the dangers that entails.
Personal details, photos, videos, and instant messaging in various forms are now being recognised as seriously affecting the mental health of millions of children in this country and around the world.
And yet, no government or body of lawmakers has made or is making any effort to try and rectify what is destroying this generation of young people.
I’ve heard it said: “it’s too late, the cat is out of the bag.” But it’s never too late to put right what is a travesty for our children.
The mobile phone, a useful tool in so many ways, has become a weapon—and not just for the young but for adults too. Many are suffering abuse and bullying from an invisible force behind a screen, and it appears there are no consequences for the perpetrators.
Of course, we know the large corporations involved in producing mobile phones—the likes of Apple and Samsung—have no interest, whatsoever, in doing anything to stop a scourge that is now endemic worldwide.
They are making immoral amounts of money from something categorically damaging our current crop of youth and will continue to do so to the populations that follow in the future.
The more sophisticated phones become—and the more information that’s extracted—the more controlled lives will be. And we’re all too blind to see it.
Or perhaps we choose not to and, by doing so, are failing to protect the young and vulnerable in society today.
While I’m not saying mobile phones should be banned altogether, because that’s an unrealistic ambition, I do believe that in the UK, and hopefully around the world, it should be against the law for any child under the age of 16 to have one.
People may be horrified at the thought of their child or children not having a phone of their own. But my and my children’s generation all came through childhood unscathed without one—and are all the better for it today.
I know for a fact that parents struggle to monitor the use of their children’s phone usage at home, and that teachers do their utmost to educate children in schools to the potential dangers of mobile phones, including bullying, abuse, addiction and the excessive use of social media.
Yet the truth is it’s virtually impossible to know what your child is looking at on their phone 24/7—and the content to which they may be exposed.
The dramatic consequences are already showing themselves in the numbers of young people with mental health issues, low self-esteem, lack of confidence and the constant pressure to look like a ‘photoshopped’ celebrity—all resulting in the loss of their individuality.
Our duty as parents is to protect our children. But, when it comes to mobile phones, we are simply failing to do that.
So we have to act before it’s too late.
The alternative will be future generations who are reliant on medication for their general and mental health wellbeing.
Can we really let that happen?
’Til next time,