To the Editor:
Many parents must be sending their kids back to school with a new smartphone. How young is too young to give your child a smartphone is no longer asked. In a dangerous world, it seems like the smart thing to do. A good parent would have warned them of personal hazards like “stranger danger,” crossing busy streets and the need to share information of their whereabouts. They’ve probably taught them how to use their phone and believe protection software installed is enough to protect against internet hazards and any dangers the device might pose.
It is a shock to witness how inadequate that “education” can be, but not unexpected considering behavior learned from their parent’s example like doing distracted driving or personal injuries caused by distracted attention.
As I turned into a side-street for weekly church services I was appalled to see a young boy, about 10, huddled on the curb at the corner of the street with his knees up and his smartphone resting there as he typed away, oblivious to the close passing traffic. Most corners are now sloped for HC [handicapped] access and people often run over them as they turn.
No common sense at such a young age and concerned my conscience could not endure what might happen, after parking I walked over to get him away from the road. But he got up, crossed the street, nose still glued to his smartphone, stops several seconds directly in the middle of the road in response to some screen, before finishing his crossing.
I thought he was waiting for someone coming to church and would have liked to tell his parents what I witnessed, but he said he was alone, maybe a local resident. I let him know how hazardous his actions were that drivers can be “distracted”, he was “small” and hard to see and that he should not be so close to the road without his undivided attention to the hazards and left it at that. Nice grassy lawns existed at both corners where he could have safely sat and played games, but he had obviously learned that using his smartphone was something to be done, while doing something else.
There is something seriously lacking in the educational instructions parents give their children when they buy them a smartphone. Unfortunately, given no strict instructions, our children learn best by our example. You would not put a gun in your child’s hands to protect them. Too young is when your child cannot understand “distracted” use of their phone can be as deadly.