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Parents should be vigilant about their children’s smartphone use

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It’s 10 pm. Do you know where your children are?” was a long-running public service announcement on television. The goal of this announcement was to protect the youth of America by motivating derelict parents to get their kids safely indoors and under proper care by the 10 pm curfew.

It’s time for a new PSA: “It’s 2017. Have you checked your child’s smartphone today?”

As a middle school teacher, I can attest that not monitoring smartphone use sabotages a child’s school performance in many ways.

Here are five of them:

Sleep deprivation

Last year, one of my students kept falling asleep in class, because he was staying awake until 3 am “texting friends.” I asked the rest of the class if this was something that teens did on school nights nowadays. Half of the class raised their hands in affirmation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified sleep deprivation as a “public health problem.” They go on to say, “Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.”

Your child might not run a vehicle into a ditch, but they are going to crash and burn in math class without proper rest.

“It’s 2017. Should you let your kid take their smartphone to bed?”


Research shows that multitasking is detrimental to one’s ability to focus. A Stanford University study reveals that “People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory, or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”

Switching from app to app, texting while talking, and tweeting while watching TV weakens one of the most-needed skills in school — the ability to focus.

“It’s 2017. Can your child go an hour without checking their phone?”


The number of teens viewing pornography is quite sobering. And according to Covenant Eyes, “Seventy-one percent of teens have done something to hide their online activity from their parents.”

What is particularly dangerous about letting a teen’s porn habit go unchecked has to do with neuroscience.

“Teens are at a great risk of developing a pornography addiction as their brains are still developing,” write authors Jennifer Riemersma and Michael Sytsma in “A New Generation of Sexual Addiction.”

“It’s 2017. Have you checked your child’s browser and app history?”


No matter how many stories run nationally about a teen committing suicide because her “boo” showed his “boys” the nude picture she sent him, it keeps happening. In fact, DoSomething.org reports, “Eleven percent of teen girls ages 13 to 16 have been involved with sending or receiving sexually explicit messages.”

Porn creates the appetite, and smartphones make it easy to imbibe.

“It’s 2017. Have you checked your child’s camera log?”


Many fights at school start on social media. In fact, sometimes students agree to fight on social media the night before. In June of this year, www.kens5.com out of San Antonio reported several teens being shot in a fight that started as a Facebook dust-up.

“It’s 2017. Have you checked your child’s social media accounts?”

• • •

Smartphones are a part of everyday life. One might even argue that they make children safer due to increased communication with parents when they are out and about. What cannot be argued, however, is that unchecked smartphone usage can sabotage your child’s school performance at the very least and put their well-being in jeopardy at the very worst.

“It’s 2017. Have you checked your child’s smartphone today?”

Jathan Maricelli is a classroom teacher, author, and father of four. More of his writing can be found at www.jathanmaricelli.com.

Posted 12:00 am, September 11, 2017
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