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Safety is even more important for young smartphone users

Safety is even more important for young smartphone users

8/16/2013

How young is too young to get your first cellphone? You might have bought or received your first mobile device as an adult or a high school student - but the age at which people are getting their hands on phones is rapidly decreasing. Many of us have raised an eyebrow while walking through the mall and seeing a child sitting in a stroller swiping at a tablet or a wobbly toddler walking behind his or her parents with a smartphone in hand. Are we jealous, or is there really such a thing as an unwise age for getting your first electronic gadgets?

According to CBS News, new research shows that around 25 percent of kids 2 years old or younger have mobile phones to call their own. The source noted that in these cases, parents see the devices as learning tools, but experts are highly skeptical of the benefits that might come with setting such a small child in front of a screen. Psychiatrist Gail Saltz recently explained to "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that smartphone use this early can be damaging to a toddler's development.

"These years are the years that you need to be developing vocabulary, which means speaking and listening, so if you're engaged in a gadget, you're really minimizing that," she told the show's co-hosts. "We've seen all kinds of data now on play and how important it is to, frankly, be bored and be stimulated to do imaginative play, what that does for building creativity."

Instead of helping kids sharpen their minds, time spent interacting with a smartphone is "structured time" that limits free thinking.

Additional threats
But what about older kids? Computerworld pointed out that as more kids find themselves with personal technology such as smartphones at their disposal, they face a whole slew of risks of which parents need to be highly aware. Adults need to have difficult but age-appropriate talks with their children about issues such as cyberbullying, online predators and sexting so kids know what to do if someone else is bothering them and what behaviors need to be avoided. Parents should also do their research about safety solutions that can help them track what their kids are doing online. Additionally, the source advised that adults should be clear about limits, especially in terms of practices such as texting, at which teens tend to be prolific (a Pew Research study found the average teen sends and receives 3,000 texts each month).

Plus, parents should be aware that their kids could end up surfing unsafe websites by accident - a mistake many adults make as well, to be fair. In interest of avoiding problems such as identity theft, the whole family should have a strong protection plan that supplements their current smartphone insurance. By choosing a ProtectCELL plan that includes identity theft protection, parents can be sure that in the worst case scenario, they'll be able to take action swiftly to resolve situations involving identity theft. As an added benefit, everyone's device will be fully backed up, meaning valuable information won't be gone for good when a device is lost, damaged or needs to be wiped.

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