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Want Happy Kids? Don’t Give Them a Phone, One Expert Suggests

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic via Unsplash

Want Happy Kids? Don’t Give Them a Phone, One Expert Suggests

By Movieguide® Contributor

Yale Professor of Psychology Laurie Santos recently revealed the key to having happy kids: “Wait as long as possible” to give them a phone.

“I think the more we can hold off on giving kids technology — the longer, the better,” the professor told CNBC.

Santos is a popular instructor at Yale and host of “The Happiness Lab” podcast, where she shares advice and examples of how to be happier.

Santos believes that phones are full of unnecessary distractions. They are seldom used as a tool, but rather, they are primarily used for social media.

“Teenagers are getting on the order of 200 notifications from their phones today,” she said. “These are brains that are forming and trying to pay attention in school [while their phones are going] ding, ding, ding.”

She notes that it’s important for parents to set a good example if they want their kids to spend less time on their phones.

“They’re not going to want to do as you say; they’re going to want to do as you do,” Santos said.

Another psychologist and professor, Jean Twenge, notes, “In the period between 2012 and 2016, more and more teens began to say they felt useless and joyless — classic symptoms of depression. More started to say they felt anxious and overwhelmed.”

“Clinical-level depression among teens increased by 50 percent, and the number of 10- to 14-year-old girls admitted to emergency rooms for self-harm (such as cutting) tripled.” She continued, “Most concerning of all, the suicide rate for teen girls doubled.”

She agrees with Santos’s line of thought—that phone use makes children unhappier.

Twenge said, “Several studies rule out the idea that unhappiness leads to screen time, instead finding that screen time leads to unhappiness.”

Twenge told Time Magazine an easy tip for parents who want to make adjustments to their kids’ phone usage: “No phones in the bedroom overnight. Buy an alarm clock.”

Movieguide® recently reported on HGTV star Erin Napier’s decision that her children won’t have phones or social media:

Napier wants to keep them away from technology so they learn they can live full lives without it.

Napier’s oldest daughter has noticed that her life is different from most other kids.

“One time she asked, ‘What are they doing on there?’ I said, ‘I don’t really know.’ She said, ‘But you said you use your phone for work,’ and I said ‘Yeah, that is what I use it for. But phones also have a bad place, a scary place that I want to protect you from. You don’t need to see the scary things,” she recalled.

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.