Four years ago I smashed my children’s iPads.
It had been such beautiful weather in Devon and I’d told the boys, then aged nine and 11, to get their wetsuits so we could head to the beach. But, glued to their screens, they’d ignored me.
When I tried again, 20 minutes later, they were still on those flaming devices, and again, another 20 minutes later, they were still on them. So I grabbed one and knocked it against a coffee table, thinking how much I hated them.
The screen went ‘pop’. Oh God, I thought, I can’t smash one and not the other. So that’s what I did.
There were terrible tears. ‘Mum, how could you have done this?’ they wailed. It was, without doubt, one of my worst parenting moments.
By the age of six, one third of children in the UK own a mobile. It’s 90 per cent by the time they hit 11, and by 15 almost every teenager has one, according to figures released by media regulator Ofcom last week. (Picture posed by models)
But what ensued was one of those summers from heaven. We hung out together, spending days on the beach, playing chess and Monopoly in the evenings. I can’t believe it happened, but it did.
So when figures were released by media regulator Ofcom last week revealing the extent to which even very young children have mobile phones of their own, it hit a nerve. The report is truly disturbing.
By the age of six, it said, one third of children in the UK own a mobile. It’s 90 per cent by the time they hit 11, and by 15 almost every teenager has one.
The BBC’s economics editor, Faisal Islam, described the statistics as ‘incredible’ in a social media post, adding: ‘Would be interested to know what it’s like for those who hold out against it.’
Well, as a parent who refused to cave in to my kids’ demands for phones until my eldest turned 13, I can tell him – it’s very hard.
I have huge sympathy for every parent waging a war against smartphones. I think the idea of giving one of these things to a child (and, personally, I think ten is the very minimum age) is preposterous.
In a nutshell, we’re handing our children over to Big Tech.
Children are exposed not just to harmful content, such as pornography, but to social pressures of the kind that were unimaginable when we were…