Why no self-respecting parent would give a seven-year-old a mobile phone
PUBLISHED: 09:34 01 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:12 01 February 2020
If it's true that half of children own a mobile phone by the age of seven, is it also true that half of parents are useless?
That's the conclusion I'm tempted to draw after reading this new statistic.
For there is no good reason for letting your offspring own a phone at such a young age.
The best age is open for debate and subject to individual circumstances. My four children got their first mobile at age 13, which was frustrating for them, but doesn't seem to have damaged them beyond repair.
Maybe 13 sounds draconian, but I'd rather be draconian than negligent.
That's what you're being if you're giving a mobile phone to your child before they even reach the end of infant school.
It's lazy, irresponsible parenting.
Plenty of mums and dads will argue that the phone is essential for safety: that they need to be able to contact their child at any time.
It's total hogwash, of course. If you do not know where your child is at any point up to the age of seven, it's a dereliction of parental duty - they're certainly not old enough to be unaccompanied.
They're either in the house, at school, with a relative, or holding your hand.
And the big, bad world is not teeming with violent child snatchers, so there's no need to allow justifiable caution to spill over into the sort of Daily Mail hysteria that conjures up monsters around every corner.
If you're determined to be able to be in constant contact with your child, buy a £9.99 burner-style phone which can only be used for texts and calls.
That way, there's no internet access - and no way anyone can suggest that you're trying to avoid being a proper parent.
The real truth is that, apart from a few neurotic control freaks, most parents have another reason for letting their youngsters have a phone - to keep them quiet.
Mobile phones and tablets are like dummies: they have overtaken the TV and ritalin as the go-to drugs to sedate lively littluns.
If they are shouting, crying, screaming, fighting, or just wanting a little bit of one-to-one with mummy and daddy, give them the phone or the tablet and all will be well.
In seconds, they will be chatting to people who are (hopefully) their friends, visiting inappropriate websites, or playing mass slaughter games.
Meanwhile, you will have the chance to stare at your phone, messaging your friends, internet shop and play Angry Birds.
Thus, a beautiful modern family scene is created, with little children and their parents all in the lounge, all staring at their phones.
A few years later, parents despair because their teenagers won't talk to them. Blimey, how could anyone have seen that coming?
The alternative to the phone pacifier is a bit old-fashioned: engage with your children, through the medium of talking, listening, playing, reading and colouring.
It's not as easy, and it means doing something terrifying - putting somebody else first.
When you have a child, you commit to doing just that.
Instead of InstaFacing your huge eyebrows or catching up on Love Island, you should be relegating self and promoting the needs of that little someone else.