November 6 2018

…Parenting in the age of technology comes with its own set of challenges, and none is clearer to me, a newly minted parent of young teenagers, than how we regulate and monitor cellphone use. The average age a child gets a cellphone is 10. According to research released by Nielsen in 2017, of the kids who have phones before 13, 45 percent get them between age 10 and 12, and 16 percent have phones when they are 8. By the teenage years, 95 percent of kids have access to a smartphone. All of this translates to more phones at younger ages, which means that phones are the norm in places where they used to be the exception. Places such as elementary and middle school sleepovers.

In the past two years, my daughter has been invited to parties that use phones for scavenger hunts, photos and making movies. But what happens at 2 a.m., when the games are done, and a parent is left with a group of kids, all with relatively unsupervised access to phones?

“What we see with sleepovers is what I would call diminished inhibition that comes with sleep deprivation,” says Devorah Heitner, author of “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World” and the blog Raising Digital Natives. “A kid who makes sensible decisions at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. might not be the kid that makes sensible decisions after hours of junk food, of no sleep, of being kind of worn down by peers.”

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