The Great Smartphone Experiment

If smartphones are a great big unknown, why are we so casual about introducing them to our kids?

Matthew MacDonald
OneZero

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Credit: Maskot/Getty Images

ItIt happened in an instant. One moment, the yellow school bus was thundering on its way, full of chattering 12-year-olds. The next instant, it hit an unseen pothole and bounced violently. Two classrooms of children were suddenly floating, airborne, as though they were cresting the top of an amusement park’s best roller coaster.

A moment later, the kids crashed to the ground. Teachers hurried back to take stock while I—a parent chaperone—talked to a few of the less affected students near the front of the bus.

“I was all right,” a nearby girl told me. “But Alyssa hit the roof.” She showed me her phone. The classroom of kids—the majority with smartphones anyway—had put their devices to work. Mere seconds had passed, but they were already dissecting the drama in a group chat.

IfIf you’re a kid in high school or middle school, you more than likely have a smartphone as an ever-present companion. The average age for a child to get a first smartphone was 10 in 2016, down from 12 a few years earlier. The average young smartphone user is on their device around an hour a day (at first), then nearly three hours every day when they hit their teenage years.

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Matthew MacDonald
OneZero

Teacher, coder, long-ago Microsoft MVP. Author of heavy books. Join Young Coder for a creative take on science and technology. Queries: matthew@prosetech.com