debate NOV 1

Time for kids | Should children have smartphones?

Take a look at this picture. Remind you of anyone? Common Sense Media says 43% of children aged 8 to 12 now own a smartphone. Is this a good thing? Many young people tell Time for Kids that smartphones help them stay in touch with their families.

But some experts advise caution. “Young children are not well equipped to regulate their smartphone use,” says Julia Storm. It is a numeric media health parameter. Spending too much time on the device can affect the health and well-being of children. Should children have smartphones? TFK asked some. This is what they had to say.

debate NOV 3

Courtesy LAURA GAROFALO

John Garofalo, 11

Scarsdale, New York

There are several reasons why children have smartphones. First, phones allow parents to easily contact their children. Parents can see the location of their children and pick them up if there is an emergency. The second is education. An app like Duolingo helps kids learn Spanish and other languages. YouTube can also be a learning tool when used appropriately. Finally, smartphones help children communicate with friends. If you move away, you can still stay in touch. This happened to me when I changed school. Now I can talk to my old friends while I’m making new friends at my new school.

debate NOV 2

Courtesy Aiko Yano

Yumi Yano, 10

Foster City, California

Smartphones can be addictive. A study by Baylor University found that college students spend about nine hours a day on their phones! Children are also prone to addiction, because they are not disciplined enough to set limits. They may lose sight of their interests, dreams, and schoolwork. Studies show that smartphone use can cause anxiety, damage relationships, and even damage children’s eyesight. I’m not saying that kids should never have electronic devices. But they also have to get outside, make art, and spend time with family. Why waste time on the screen?

debate NOV 5

Courtesy Sera Hussain

Alina Hussain, 10

Winfield, Illinois

My opinion is that you can have a smartphone, but spending a lot of time on it is not good. Smartphones can provide the entertainment we need. But this can be addicting. Watching videos online is not the best use of your time. With effort, we are able to do amazing things. YouTube won’t really help you achieve them. And looking at the screen for a long time is not good for your vision. But in the event of an emergency, the smartphone allows you to contact your parents or the authorities. If you need to remember something, you can take a note. These are the reasons why kids have phones.

debate NOV 4

Courtesy Eduardo DIEPPA III

Alexander Diba, 10

Miami, Florida

I think kids shouldn’t have smartphones. Constant exposure to blue light from screens can be harmful to their eyes. Smartphones can also distract them from school. Studies show that teens and young adults who spend the most time on social media are often more depressed than those who spend the least time on them. This may happen to children, too. What about safety? Well kids should always be with adults so safety is not a part of that. With all the risks to schoolwork, health and happiness, it’s not worth it for kids to own smartphones.

debate NOV 7

Courtesy Melissa Easton

Logan Easton, 10

Mount Albert, Ontario, Canada

There are many good reasons why kids have smartphones. The main ones are emergency situations. Children can ask for help. Or parents can track children over the phone. Another reason is that children can talk to their friends and family when they are stressed. Or they can ask a friend to come over. Then there’s the cure for boredom: Kids can use their phones for games and other entertainment. Using smartphones allows us to stay safe, connect with friends and have fun. Why do we not want children to have them?

debate NOV 6

Courtesy ANNETTE MCCANN

Emily McCann, 9

Pelham, New York

There are many reasons why children do not need smartphones. First, they could receive calls from people they don’t know and be tricked into doing things they’re not supposed to do. Some applications can leak personal information of children. Children may also get hurt by a mean comment online. They may not want to spend time with family and friends. And with a phone in their hand, they may not be aware of their surroundings. For example, when crossing the street. Phones can distract you from school, sports, clubs and homework.

Next debate! Do children need homework? Email your review to emailbag@timeforkids.com by December 30th. Your response may be shown in an upcoming issue.

* Submissions have been edited for length and clarity only. They are not intended to reflect the opinions of TIME for Kids. Ages are accurate as of the time of submission.