Cell phones give young students abundance of screen time

by | Jan 23, 2014 | News

Photo courtesy of Bartmoni via WikiCommons

Photo courtesy of Bartmoni via WikiCommons

By Natalie Hanniman

A new study reveals just how many young Canadians have a cell phone, and I mean young.

The study by MediaSmarts asked 5,400 students between grade four and eleven, from every province and territory across the country, about their internet usage and if they owned a mobile device.

One in four children in the fourth grade had their own mobile device. That number jumps to 40 per cent for students in the sixth grade, and 90 per cent for the eldest students.

Students aren’t just staying connected through cell phones, they also have laptops and tablets, giving them constant, unsupervised Internet access.

99 per cent of students have access to Internet outside of school. The most popular things for kids to do online are play games, social media, and stream music, TV shows or movies.

Almost half of the grade six students have a Facebook account, despite being under the minimum age limit of 13.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day.” Kids should unplug to focus on other things like reading a book, going outside or building in-person relationships with family and friends.

The Kaizer Family Foundation found that students, “devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes” online, almost four times the recommended amount.

“Not only are students getting connected, they’re staying connected: more than a third of students who own cell phones say they sleep with their phones in case they get calls or messages during the night,” said Matthew Johnson, director of Education at MediaSmarts.

Students at Humber gave their opinions on young students having cell phones.

Despite what these statistics imply, parents do have a big impact in what a child does online. Students with household rules are less likely to engage in activities that adults consider risky.

The Canadian Paediatric Association warns against too much screen time, which can lead to obesity in children. Exposure to screens at a young age can, “negatively impacts aspects of cognitive and psychosocial development.”