“Americans are now spending an average of 4.7 hours a day on their smartphones” (Harper). This shocking statistic shows just how important smartphones and their features have become for our day to day lives. People can connect with each other using new smartphone technology in many ways by texting, snapchatting, tweeting, and posting. Smartphones benefit users by allowing them to communicate with others easily, but these phones also come with negative effects. Smartphones create a virtual barrier between the two users communicating, which can be harmful– especially for younger users. Elementary school students should not have smartphones because cell phone technology will limit students’ development of social skills.

If elementary school students spend their free time on their smartphones, they will not have face to face interactions with peers. During elementary school age, children are in the middle childhood stage of development; this stage focuses on social growth with others. Kids have to talk with other kids in order to develop “cognitive skills, personality, motivation, and interpersonal relationships” (Tomonari). The use of smartphones at this age would harm growth because children will not interact with their friends in person as often as they would if they did not have smartphones. Children can depend on their cell phones for entertainment, which in result will lead to a negative effect on social development. Also, if children use smartphones to communicate with others, they will not learn the interpersonal communication skills necessary for life. Elementary school age children learn how to “interact appropriately” and how to “express themselves through free play outside where their imaginations are challenged as they freely explore the environment” (Walmsley). Do kids really learn how to effectively express themselves when they communicate only through texting and social media? Communication skills learned at this age prove their importance all throughout life, so if children do not learn them, their futures will not shine as bright. Something to consider. Consequently, the negative effects of children not experiencing face to face interactions can even lead to behavioral disorders such as “lack of confidence, failure at school, shyness, and violent contact” (Samanci). These disorders can develop because children will not have enough experience talking with others; a lack of experience can easily lead to shyness and a lack of confidence. Isolation due to overuse of cellphones will easily inhibit students from hanging out with peers.

The age at which smartphone technology should be introduced to a child is ultimately the parent’s decision. Many parents strongly believe that the use of a smartphone will benefit the development of their kids by allowing them to learn in ways only technology can provide. Yes, the use of smartphones can allow young students to utilize educational apps and other tools, but does this one benefit outshine all of the negative effects technology can have on a young and growing mind? According to recent studies, “an over reliance upon digital technology may actually retard the learning and social development of today’s youth generation” (Handler). The overuse of smartphones actually hinders the learning of young students– so why do parents allow their children to use these devices as learning tools? Only the parent can decide whether or not their child will have a smartphone, but that does not mean the parent can make that decision without considering the possible negative outcomes.

Elementary school students should grow as individuals while playing on the playground, laughing with friends, and learning with others. If children sit glued to their cell phones, they will instead pass the time by snapchatting their friends, playing with apps, and sending laughing emojis. In order to preserve the development of social skills in their kids, parents should restrict elementary aged students from smartphones. Everyone wants their kids to have the confidence to express themselves, so why would parents let their child use a device that can limit their child’s potential?

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