A small town in Ireland banded together to say "no" to smartphones for young kids. It started with the primary schools in Gresytones, and now parents are embracing the benefits of combatting peer pressure and protecting children from the potential negative effects of smartphones, like anxiety and exposure to inappropriate content. The town-wide policy reduces the likelihood of children feeling left out and allows parents to present the ban as a collective decision. Ireland's health minister has even recommend it as a nationwide policy.
At about the same time of the ban, a study on almost 30,000 participants came out that examines mental wellbeing in relation to the age that a child got their first internet-connected device. The findings fully support the choice that Greystones residents recently made.
Researchers aimed to discover how the age at which a person first got their own smartphone or tablet affected their mental wellbeing because there has been a noticeable decline in the mental wellbeing of younger generations in recent years. This decline seems to have started as smartphones become popular. allowing people to be connected to the internet all the time.
The study collected information from nearly 28,000 youths from all over the world. They were asked questions about their mental wellbeing, lifestyle, and life experiences. Researchers used the answers to calculate a score and compared these scores with the age at which participants got their first smartphone or tablet.
The study found some interesting results:
People who got their first smartphone or tablet at an older age tended to have better mental wellbeing. This improvement was more noticeable in females compared to males.
- Females that got phones or devices at 18-years-old reported their mental health challenges were 74 percent lower compared to girls that got a phone at 6-years-old. Females also showed improvements in other aspects like mood, outlook, and adaptability.
How the participant viewed themselves and interacted with others improved with delaying ownership of their first device.
Problems like suicidal thoughts, aggression towards others, feeling disconnected from reality, and experiencing hallucinations decreased significantly when individuals got their smartphones at older ages. This decline was especially notable in females, but males also showed some improvement, although it was not as significant.
Even participants that had happy childhoods (i.e. no trauma or difficulties) had poorer mental wellbeing compared to those with a delayed smartphone experience.
The bottom line is that the little Irish town of Greystones is giving their children a chance at better mental wellbeing. While we applaud this community for coming together to create a blanket ban, we recognize that the U.S. is different---the sprawling suburbs and difference in public transportation alone could make a smartphone essential for some young children. Rest assured that parents can customize Pinwheel's settings down to the most exact features to make sure their child has everything they need and nothing that they don't.