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Should New Zealand Ban Smartphones for Under-16s?

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In today’s world, children are getting smartphones at younger ages. In the UK, 91% of children have a smartphone by age 11, and in the US, 42% of kids have one by age 10, with 91% owning one by age 14. In New York, the mayor has called social media a public health hazard, and in the UK, some lawmakers suggest banning smartphones for under-16s.

In New Zealand, a new law bans student mobile phones in schools as of May. But should New Zealand consider banning smartphones for all children under 16? Dr. Samantha Marsh, a senior researcher at Auckland University, shares her thoughts.

Dr. Marsh believes smartphones can be very harmful to teenagers. Research links smartphone use to anxiety, depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, and poor physical health. These are serious issues that parents want to avoid for their children.

Dr. Marsh suggests that delaying access to smartphones could be beneficial. She sees smartphone use as a public health problem that needs public health solutions. Rather than dealing with the negative effects after they occur, preventing the harm in the first place is crucial. A smartphone ban, according to her, could be a way to protect children’s health.

Social pressure also plays a big role in smartphone use among teens. Dr. Marsh points out that high school can be a tough time, and adding the stress of smartphone use doesn’t help. She believes a ban would empower parents, as it shows the government recognizes the harm and is taking action.

While some might argue for parental controls on devices, Dr. Marsh notes that these controls often fail and kids can find ways around them. Parental controls can help with content, but they aren’t a complete solution to the problem.

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