back to article A quarter of 5-7 year olds now use smartphones, says regulator

The UK's telecoms regulator has found that nearly a quarter of children between the ages of five and seven own a smartphone while a similar percentage use social media unsupervised. In its annual study of children's relationships with the media and online worlds, comms regulator Ofcom found infant schoolchildren are …

  1. Helstrom

    Do 5 year olds actually "own" anything?

    "The research showed 24 percent of five- to seven-year-olds own a smartphone"

    I'm not sure that 5 year olds are capable of owning a smart phone. Ownership comes with a level of responsibility (not to lose it, break it, keep it in good repair, liability, etc). Try explaining to a 5 year old the consequence of them breaking something they "own"... This is maybe the entire problem. The parents own the smartphone and all the responsibility that comes with it. If they choose to let their 5 year old have a phone that doesn't absolve the parent of responsibility.

    1. Snake Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Do 5 year olds actually "own" anything?

      How many times am I allowed to upvote your post?

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Do 5 year olds actually "own" anything?

        Only once, but you can have a proxy upvote from me.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Do 5 year olds actually "own" anything?

      It seems like World Economic Forum based their policies on 5 year olds. They own nothing and they are generally happy.

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Do 5 year olds actually "own" anything?

      I'm very very sceptical that large numbers of 5-7 year olds "own" a real smartphone, a personal device that runs apps with the child as registered user. I repeat: 5-7 year olds. Being told something in a "report" doesn't make it real. It's conceivable that many children do have some access to such a device, and it is explainable as being older models for instance (and a bit of a concern there with security), and solid plastic nonfunctional toy ones, but the most intellectually satisfying interpretation, to me, is that someone said something that is not true, and they probably know it isn't true.

      I'm therefore disinclined to spend a lot of time worrying about the impact on society of something that isn't happening.

  2. t245t Silver badge
    Boffin

    How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

    ‘In The Anxious Generation, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt lays out the facts about the epidemic of teen mental illness that hit many countries at the same time. He then investigates the nature of childhood, including why children need play and independent exploration to mature into competent, thriving adults. Haidt shows how the “play-based childhood” began to decline in the 1980s, and how it was finally wiped out by the arrival of the “phone-based childhood” in the early 2010s.’

    ‘He presents more than a dozen mechanisms by which this “great rewiring of childhood” has interfered with children’s social and neurological development, covering everything from sleep deprivation to attention fragmentation, addiction, loneliness, social contagion, social comparison, and perfectionism. He explains why social media damages girls more than boys and why boys have been withdrawing from the real world into the virtual world, with disastrous consequences for themselves, their families, and their societies.’

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

      Yes, children need play and independent exploration, but they ALSO need structure and discipline and guidance and direction and to be taught useful skills that they will require in their adult life.

      Unfortunately most parents, teachers and childcare professionals are heavily biased to one extreme or the other when in reality you need to strike a balance somewhere.

      Not necessarily exactly in the middle. The right balance depends very much on the child, because they have different personalities, interests and abilities. There is no one size fits all solution.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        "There is no one size fits all solution."

        Yet we strive for that one size fits all solution.

        The alarming rise in medicalisation of children for ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and the problem-de-jure of gender.

        Take the pills, go away, you will be cured.

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          "The alarming rise in medicalisation of children..."

          It's not just children. It's the entire "psychiatric" system, what seems a bunch of charlatans who operate under the belief of their knowledge based upon...what, exactly? Their 'solution' is most often to medicate you into their perceived pattern of 'normalcy' and call it a day - they've done their job, as far as they are concerned. Never bothering to ask exactly what "normal" is, it is mostly a societal construct (ask the gays who were either castrated or lobotomized) and never bothering to ask "Am I sure that my beliefs in my 'treatment' are correct". They have been trained to believe they are correct, just like economists >:/

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

            "ask the gays who were either castrated or lobotomized"

            It seems we have returned to that phase.

            I happened upon this last night where in the late 2000 lupron was being touted by some quacks as a cure for autism:

            https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2009/05/critics_say_lupron_is_no_mirac.html

            The 'quick fix take pills' approach really is killing people. I read a story about a young man who was at MIT being sponsored by the US Navy with a prospect of a great career ahead of him. He was burning the candle at both ends a bit too often so his doc prescribed him anti-depressants to fix the anxiety he was having. Then he had issues focusing on his work so he was diagnosed as ADHD and medicated for that and the result was a pretty much total breakdown. Another case was a lady working night shifts at a diner and had issues sleeping so her doc prescribed anti-depressants which then totally f-ed her up. After seeing another doc she was told that she should have never been prescribed such a high dose or been told to take them for more than a couple of weeks at absolute max.

            1. Gene Cash Silver badge

              Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

              In the US at least, it's the shitty doctors.

              I fell out of my chair not paying attention sitting down, ended up really hard on the floor and messed up my back.

              I went to the doctor looking for an x-ray or something to find out how bad it was. It really hurt.

              The doctor went off on a tirade about pain pills and how he wasn't going to give them to me. I could not make him see I DID NOT WANT the pain pills, I just wanted him to do his job and diagnose what sort of condition my back was in.

              Nope, can't do that.

          2. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

            The NHS hands out prescriptions for SSRIs as the first response to any mental illness. And they generally don't warn of the significant potential side effects from this toxic shit, or the fact that the 'corrects a chemical imbalance' story is backed by no evidence at all.

          3. jmch Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

            "ask the gays who were either castrated or lobotomized"

            ...and lest anyone think this is decades-old practice, have a look at the Cass report. It's been happening right now.

        2. jospanner

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          Weird how so many weighing in on this issue and so few voices of those of us who grew up with these problems.

        3. jospanner

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          I grew up with gender dysphoria, and I would have killed for puberty blockers as a teen. Now we can’t get them any more, and the waiting list to get them for “research” has been filled up many times over.

          So yes, thanks for your “concerns”, it’s always the ones who it never affects who talk the most shit about other people’s psychiatry and medicine.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > gender dysphoria

            I share your existential pain, because is a very rare life experience. It is exactly why down-votes are meaningless in this specialist area. I doubt there are enough scientific experts in the whole World in the field. At the same time many of us have seen the disasters of plastic surgery, for example. And, superficially, "mutilating" children seems like a bad idea. There is no better way than more scientific research, enlightenment and case-by-case decisions before complex treatments.

            Statistically normal, but rare, mutations, deformities, diseases are not well understood, or accepted by the general population. Compassion is still mostly a form of political correctness. People may consider medical interventions as messing up with the God's will. But they do not realize that such a simple thing as a pain killer falls into the same category.

            The problem is a side-effect of the World's complexity. Long tails problems require considerable research efforts and resources. It is wrong to use them in political context. But it is equally wrong to generalize the treatments to statistically irrelevant population of children or adults without deeper research. "Do not harm" principle still applies.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

      I used to be able to go out in the back yard and play. I even used to be able to go into the woods and explore, or walk over and visit friends.

      Now I see kids AREN'T EVEN ALLOWED OUT OF THE HOUSE. Even going into the back yard is not an option.

      It's as bad as house arrest.

      And we wonder why kids withdraw into phones and video games...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        I'm one of the latchkey generation and so long as I was back for supper pretty much anything was OK. My father in law grew up in the deep south and his memaw would chuck all the grand kids out of the house in the morning and not let them back in.

        Now it is over protective parents and helicopter parenting. 'let mommy check your food is the right temperature', 'play your game on the phone (so you don't bother me)' etc.

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          Yep, that was us: "Get out of the house, and if you're going out of sight let me, or one of the neighbours, know where you're going; AND MAKE SURE YOU'RE BACK IN TIME FOR TEA! Now get!"

          And we got, it was great. Mind you we did grow up beside a huge tidal inlet, complete with mangrove swamps, so there was plenty of 'getting' to be going at.

        2. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          "let mommy check your food is the right temperature"

          You're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking.

          Oh, Christ, you're not joking, are you?

          <cries>

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

            Nope, my OH sister in law actually did that with their 6 year old. Maybe secretly the mom wanted the nuggies rather than adult food ;) The other kids at the meal were being more normal and being noisy and managing to get about half the nuggies and maybe 20% of the ketchup into themselves.

            1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

              Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

              Thank you for the chuckle

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        "I used to be able to go out in the back yard and play. I even used to be able to go into the woods and explore, or walk over and visit friends."

        My friends and I would go out and hunt rattlesnakes with (long-handled) garden tools. We hike miles and swim in water with no added chlorine. We built 'forts' without any planning permission. I think my dad sort of expected all of that would be the case since I never kept any of it secret. A good portion of the rest of my waking time would be spent around horses, chickens, dogs and using sharp implements that could cause a serious injury. Again, not only expected, but all part of my daily chores.

        1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          I'm really ancient (72) and the furthest I went from home on foot was 5 miles - took us into the countryside and the furthest on bike as a sub-teen about 14 miles. I still remember the latter because there was a major disaster - the little bottle of milk that lived in a screw on compartment on my thermos broke. My saddle bag needed washing but the real problem was I had to drink my tea without milk!!!

      3. Bruce Ordway

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        Yeah, in the 80's all the kids in my neighborhood roamed all over. Now I rarely see any of the local kids outside the house, let alone out of their own yard. Parents seem more stressed out, mayb3e a little overly protective.

        But... I can't really relate all that well since my wife & I never wanted/had kids.

        I think we were a little ahead of our time in that area.

      4. disgruntled yank

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        @Gene Cash

        I don't know where it is that you see kids aren't even allowed out of the house. I see kids (not 2 to 5 maybe more 7 and up) playing catch with baseball or football, shooting baskets, and generally doing kid stuff outside with minimal supervision.

    3. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

      It's such a narrow band that he's looking in to, it's both right and fundamentally wrong. He is looking down at the problem, not upwards.

      I grew up in the 1990's. I didn't get a Nintendo until I was 9 years old, I didn't get a PC until I was 10 years old. I became an "adult" in the late 2000's and went in to the big bad world looking for a job just as the arse fell out of the world. I'm even older now, with a 2 year old child, in a world that continues to throw it's guts downwards and where life has been on a steady decline ever since. I too have suffered with depression and sought medication for it, to the point where on this medication I came incredibly close to ending it all in 2019. Let me tell you, every day I look at my child I think back to that day in 2019 and simultaneously thank myself for not ending, and hating myself for wanting to end it.

      What caused my issues? Well I will tell you right now that it wasn't the Nintendo, it wasn't the PC, it wasn't the mobile phone I got as a 13 year old, nor access to dial up internet at the age of 14. My issues stem from the world around me, the way the world working, and how in reality the adult life I was "prepared" for as a child was nothing like what it was meant to be. The generation before my parents and I, whether you want to read this or not, believed the next generation should at a minimum have the same chances as their parents. My generation, and subsequent others, do not have that chance. We cannot walk in to any job, we cannot save a third of our pay for bills, a third for fun, and a third for housing. The playing field, while not level in generations before, was not the Everest it is now.

      You come in to the adult world thinking you may at least have the same chances and opportunities as your parents. But you end up working for people who tell you that their workplace is "fast paced" but it's OK because we have a football table and a bean bag. Be happy with the pizza every month. Do not fucking dare consult a union. Be happy you have a job here. Be happy you have a medical plan that will bump you back to the NHS once they work out your cancer is too expensive to treat.

      My generation involved in the timeframe here, our childhoods were fucking wonderful compared to the shit show as what adult life has turned out to be. Most of the meditations you're told to do, colouring in for example, aren't all of them really adult versions of what we wanted to do as children but told to stop because we needed to "grow up"?

      Look up from these problems to see what transcends in to them. The need, not choice, of both parents having to work resulting in less time in the family unit. The need, not choice, to cut back on spending time in the family unit. The constant need to be seen to be doing the same as everyone else or to be seen as being a "good parent" which results in you throwing your phone in front of your child's face when they're going through a fairly normal tantrum - just because some old twat of a couple are looking at you staring at you thinking "will you shut that child up? I'm trying to eat".

      Top to bottom, this adult life is the cause of many problems in life. Not the technology as a child.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        "because we have a football table and a bean bag"

        Oh, this crap! My previous employer did this as well as making themed meeting rooms including 'nuclear bunker'. So you've not fixed any of the toxic aspects of the company but you've spent a load of cash on pointless junk.. I left very soon after.

      2. Adair Silver badge

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        Sadly, the reality is that every generation has to try to learn to cope with the crapness of other human beings, and with their own crapness. Just as every generation has reasons to wonder if they will be the last generation. One day probably there will be a 'last generation', given the way we human beings behave towards each other and the planet.

        The thing is, notwithstanding our fundamental crapness, there is another side to all of this, which is the matter of choosing my response. It's about making decisions about the person we are going to work at being even, and especially, in the face of my crapness, and the crapness of others. Out of those who choose for good, the good things that we truly value and rejoice in come to be. Those good choices and the good actions that come from the choices, bring hope to others, and so it goes, in every generation.

        The child looks to the 'parent' (genetic or otherwise) for hope and direction. What they are given will have a big impact on the person they become, their view of themselves and the world, and the choices they will make and why they will make them. But it won't be decisive, in the end that child, that person, must come to take responsibility for their choices and the consequences that flow from them. And so it goes ...

        Maybe there's more going on than we commonly think there is, but whatever 'life' is all about, as far as anyone knows, we only get one shot at it, whatever circumstances we find ourselves having to deal with. Might as well try to make the best of it, not just for ourselves but for those around us, and if others choose to be self-serving gits, well that is their responsibility. No need to let their choices define who we are.

      3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        I agree with everything you wrote except for the very last sentence: "Top to bottom, this adult life is the cause of many problems in life. Not the technology as a child."

        You got a Nintendo at 10. How would you have turned out if you had had a smartphone at 7, and had never gone outside except to get in the car? Parents need to make sure this adult life is not the cause of future problems in the life of their child. Is my life better today because I played rough sports and my goto tech in high school was a pocket slide rule? Yep.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          "Is my life better today because I played rough sports and my goto tech in high school was a pocket slide rule? Yep."

          The problem is that you don't have any real way to know that. Your experience is that you played those games and didn't have a computer and you wound up fine (I'm guessing), but that doesn't tell you what would have happened if you didn't play them and did have a computer, and you still could have been fine. Parents of children these days may use the same logic when they say "my child had a phone when young and they're fine". For many of them, this will be correct, and proving that they would have been better without it is not going to be easy. I had a computer when I was young. I think my life is fine. The parts that are worse are difficult to blame on the existence of computers or my access to them.

          As with both examples, there are cases where someone doing those would not be fine. People have played rough sports, as you call them, and come out of it with serious injuries. I know someone, for instance, who through a combination of a medical problem and injuries sustained while playing a sport uses a wheelchair. They may be looking back at their lives and regretting that. Many others will use technology in a dangerous way and suffer some bad consequences as a result, and they'll likely also have regrets they can do nothing about. We have to have more reliable data before pronouncing something as definitely good or bad for a child. Anecdotes will be there for both directions on almost every experience a child can have.

          1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

            Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

            "The problem is that you don't have any real way to know that."

            I won't claim to be an expert here, but I'm not exactly ignorant either. To defend my statement: (A) I made a direct counter-claim to someone who made the exact opposite conclusion when it _did not follow_ from his previous statements. (B) I always follow this type of research in the popular press, mass market books, etc. There is long standing research of the benefits of activity and the negative effects of sitting.

            This book, of which I had already read better reviews elsewhere, is yet another piece of the puzzle. Here the claims are about specific harms from smartphones and social media. Although it's a little alarmist for my taste, I have no doubt that some of the conclusions will be borne out by future research, while others will turn out to have been overblown.

            Technology is neither pure evil nor pure good, but a lot of the arguments around it are pure fallacy. Giving children smartphones seems to be for solving adult problems. "My child really wants it" is also an adult problem. Your child is not your friend, you need to be able to say no. Or if you think you are making your child tech savvy, you might want to reconsider how much and what you are actually teaching them.

        2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          I "inherited" my farther's slide rule when the company bought calculators. I was at junior school at the time. I think I prefer writing computer software to learning how to drive a slide rule and just where the decimal point went.

      4. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        I have upvoted you. I do not think its the technology in itself, that's just a part of it, its the whole way children are treated, not allowed to be chastised or disciplined, the way in which they are considered part of the time to be adults and part of the time children. Its the example they are being set by adults of all types parents to police to politicians to social workers to teachers. The list is to long to complete.

        Small example - in Scotland the courts have to give less harsh punishment to "children" but these same "children" are allowed to vote and decide that nature got it wrong when it gave them reproductive organs (or for some nature got the species wrong).

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

      Childhood play in the 80s:

      What you told your mother: I'll just be over at Darren's

      What she told you: Be back for teatime.

      What actually happened: You and a few mates and maybe a token girl cycled several miles away, explored an abandoned house, climbed seven trees, swiped some apples from somebody's garden, didn't fall into a lake, made a camp fire (and correctly put it out afterwards), and then all made it back on time so our parents remained blissfully oblivious. We didn't need books or tutorials or risk assessment, we just did shit and, suprise, nobody died and we lived in the moment rather than missing it entirely due to being too busy posting photos of the moment on social media.

      Sorry, it's cool to have Netflix and free phone calls wherever and a vast array of information easily available, but I wouldn't change my '80s childhood for anything.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        And pooling your money to buy the biggest bottle of some generic fizzy drink and some sweets at a shop along the way.

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        nobody died

        I do know people who did die, and some who got seriously injured. We came close to losing my own brother through a mishap "just climbing trees".

        I am all for duty of care, protecting people from inevitable harm, but I do feel risk adverseness has played a large part in how things are, and especially pursuit of zero risk.

        Looking back I did some really stupid things I wouldn't want others to do. Perhaps the change is because we can now stop children doing the same, have alternatives. I am not sure they are always the right ones.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          Now we have kids dying from auto-asphyxiation or eating washing detergent pods cos people on tiktok told them to do it.

        2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          What we need is to teach the difference between possibility and probability. All to many of the great and good seem to believe if they can imagine something its going to happen. So child goes somewhere dangerous ..... panic.

          Then reading the next post along I came back to edit this one. Before we teach them the difference between possibility and probability can we tech them to switch their brains on at all?

      3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        "parents remained blissfully oblivious"

        I always came home covered with dirt, which tipped off that I hadn't been at Darren's for long. Darren's mom would have booted me out right quick, I'm sure my mom thought about it.

      4. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

        Back in the 80s people complained that kids don't go out to play any more because they're playing on their consoles. But at least some did!

        Back in the 60s and 70s people complained that kids don't go out to play any more because they're watching TV. But at least some did!

        And do you know why kids today have phones with Whatsapp? It's so their parents can keep in touch with them when they're out playing. Probably to tell them when their tea's ready.

        1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

          -- And do you know why kids today have phones with Whatsapp? It's so their parents can keep in touch with them when they're out playing. Probably to tell them when their tea's ready. --

          Here's a little secret you didn't know - a smartphone isn't needed for that and oldie phone which allows you to talk to one another would do the job. Problem is that first the little darlings have to be trained to answer their phone - possibly the same problem with Whatsapp - they have to use it. If mobile phones had been invented when I was young I'd have happily turned it off - my stomach was the only reminder I needed that tea time was drawing near.

    5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: How the great rewiring of childhood is causing an epidemic of mental illness

      Does Professor Haidt's book consider the evidence and public concern about the injurious effect on young minds of previous generations of television, of radio, and of books? Young children lying around reading when they ought to be working in the farms and mills and coal mines.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Great news for bullies

      By misunderstood you mean with age people learn about money and greed and try to enrich themselves on the most vulnerable ones, as they are the easiest target?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great news for bullies

          And adults aren't??

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Great news for bullies

              The big difference is that kids have yet to learn the positive traits of rights and wrongs and that adults have since learnt the negative traits of vindictiveness and jealousy.

            2. katrinab Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Great news for bullies

              In that respect, yes. They don't grow up, they just grow older.

              The adults shouldn't have guns either though.

  4. Tron Silver badge

    Responsibility lies with the parents for what 5-7 year olds own.

    But governments just target the tech companies in search of free money.

    The sort of brazen hypocrisy politicians specialise in. See trough, stick snout in it.

  5. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Devil

    A Quarter Of 5-7 year olds Now Use Smartphones, Says Regulator

    And suddenly two million Marketing eyes lit up and their owners screamed with glee.

  6. Roland6 Silver badge

    “Ministers are said to be considering banning sales of smartphones to children under the age of 16,“

    Like the knee jerk reaction, be seen to be doing something, but not actually doing anything useful.

    I doubt many of the smartphones used by under 16s were actually purchased (from an online/high st store) were actually purchased by the under 16 in person.

    Likewise the initial SIM/airtime agreement.

    I would be interested in how many 5~7 year olds set up their own phone, downloaded the relevant social media app, added the (initial list of) names of their friends etc.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: “Ministers are said to be considering banning sales....

      I would guess that the majority have no controls on.

      Older siblings or friends will put Instagram, Facebook etc on but clicking through.

      Parent's have no idea what is on the device and sadly most simply don't care.

      The crunch comes where grooming takes place or they have viewed utterly inappropriate contents (in many ways inappropriate for adults as well) that cannot be undone.

      Then it is all someone else's fault.

      Just like the television became the electronic baby sitter, tablets and phones are the default for many. The trouble is that the content is far worse.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A quarter of parents with lowest IQ

    Maybe the children are from these parents.

    I heard that Japan has multiple issues, including low fertility rates - could these be related to high-tech nature of the nation? Besides, humans biologically are not made to read, especially spend hours staring at screens. Hopefully AI and robotics change that.

    Just, please, do not waste public money on new gov-funded regulators. The best would be to enhance schools with physical activities and less sitting. And ban using devices at school.

    1. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

      Re: A quarter of parents with lowest IQ

      Japan isn't high tech unless you mean the tech from the 80s/90s. In fact, it's pleasantly retro! You can even buy a paper train ticket with coins and paper money. Good luck with that on the London tube.

  8. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Isn't a lot of this just a modern version of "books are evil"?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Or whatever was before books... the wheel?

      Looking at how they carry on in with wheels in the "B.C." cartoon strip... (which may or may not be set in the future after this civilisation collapses.)

  9. prh99

    This sounds like a parenting issue, or a lack of, not a tech issue.

  10. John 61
    Meh

    Wasn't so long ago...

    that kids were running up huge credit card bills playing online games, as mum/mom/dad/parent had given them access (or the kids were intelligent enough to work out how) to do so.

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