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Startling News About Teens and Their Cellphones

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In the past few years, dozens of studies have pointed to certain, specific dangers regarding kids and their use of technology. One resounding conclusion is that kids should not have their electronics in their bedrooms.  With increased numbers of pornography addiction at younger ages than ever before, and now something many psychologists are calling “screen-time addiction,” parents are readily counseled to send kids to bed without their devices. Now, more research has surfaced and it’s bringing attention to another pervasive problem that’s also aggravated by the use of technology.  Bullying.

The Extent of the Problem

In a talk given at Santa Monica College, author and UCLA Psychology professor, Jaana Juvoven, presented some disturbing research on the topic of bullying. As it turns out, around 25% of all students between grades 6 and 12 have experienced bullying at school.  But as Juvoven explains, cyberbullying has become a new extension of school bullying.  These days, kids can’t just go home to find relief from the rigors of school. Bullying continues through their mobile devices: social media and text are the primary sources.  Dr. Juvoven further explained that  cyberbullying is at its worst when kids have computers or mobile devices in their bedrooms. 

 

What We Can Do

As parents, we must acknowledge the powerful effects of our kids’ phones and be willing to take the appropriate precautions. As Dr. Juvoven explained in her talk, we just don’t know what’s being sent on that phone.  It’s a powerful device.  Multiple studies indicate that an overwhelming number of cyberbullying incidents occur when the teen is alone in his/her room with an electronic device.

This is just another reason that psychologists are admonishing parenting to keep phones out of the bedroom and to put parameters and time limits on media use.  The typical recommendation is no more than 2 hours/day – that should include texting, social media, video games and television time.  Dr. Joan Simeo Munson describes how critical it is to monitor our kids and their usage of electronics:

“Many parents of older kids don’t see this as necessary, since their child will be an adult soon anyhow, so why bother enforcing something that will just cause an argument? Here’s why: kids who have no boundaries set for them are more likely to view inappropriate websites, feel more attached to their electronics, and have more time to be a part of cyberbullying. It’s not easy setting limits with your teen, but it’s necessary to keep them safe.”

It’s imperative that we as parents continually follow up with our kids and their use of technology.  Study after study indicate that cyberbullying occurs when kids are left alone for long periods of time with their devices.  We must realize that, while tough, the push-back is worth it.

 

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