Kids & Smartphones: The Right Age to Get One

Kids and Smartphones: When Is the Right Age?

Newport is cautious about allowing his children to have smartphones and believes that unrestricted internet use before puberty is risky. He suggests that around 16 years old is the appropriate age for a child to have a device with unrestricted access.

When it comes to video games, there seems to be a gendered breakdown. Social media tends to be more of a signal for cognitive distress in young women and girls, while video games are a bigger culprit for young men and boys.

The problem with video games for young men is the amount of time they spend playing, as the games can be incredibly addictive. Newport’s solution for his own children is to allow video games but only those that are not online and not free, as free games often have a business model that encourages excessive play.

He prefers games like those on the Nintendo Switch, which are less addictive and more enjoyable in shorter sessions. While he is wary of video games, Newport believes that managing usage is an easier problem to solve compared to the challenges posed by social media.

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