Are Smartphones Really as Addicting as Drugs?

We are in the smartphone business for one key reason: to make the digital experience for kids and parents much safer and secure. Our team has put a lot of years into building OS systems, apps, and filters to give users more control over their data, how they share it, and who has access to it. We started by building solutions to the biggest problems first: Control over what content our children see. In the process of creating AI-based filters, we also developed intelligence that checks the backend of every requested site to see if it is legitimate, or malware. This led to blocking ads. And that, in turn, led us to the crazy notion that every user should have complete control over their Internet experience. That means protecting and owning their online identity. 

Giving parents this level of control over their kid’s phones is like cleaning up the streets where kids play, sweeping away the smut, the drug dealers, and those who would sell anything to kids for a buck. 

That was our first mission: make a smartphone that is safe for kids.

But it doesn’t mean we advocate for unsupervised phone time. It’s actually the opposite. We advocate for the healthy use of all technology. Kids need to learn to use technology to their advantage. But they also need to learn when to step away and participate in the physical world. We encourage kids to spend time in nature, play sports, learn a musical instrument, organize their friends to serve their communities, raise pets or plants, grow their imaginations using paints and paper. 

A smartphone should be a small part of a child’s life, not the beating heart. When a child depends on a smartphone the same way they need food and air something is seriously wrong. Developing brains are constantly processing the environment around them, speech patterns, body language, risks and rewards. If a majority of a child’s life is spent learning from a smartphone then of course they become emotionally dependent on it. One recent study in the UK found that over one-third of school age children spend too much time on their phones to get involved in other activities such as sports and hobbies away from technology. 

So, are smartphones really as addicting as drugs?

They can be. It’s up to us parents to help our kids find balance. So the next time you are tempted to calm your child’s temper tantrum by giving him your smartphone, ask yourself: “suppose I didn’t have a phone, what would I do then? The key is to help children develop emotionally without technology so that they then see the phone as a tool, not a pacifier.

It’s up to parents to create the environment that is healthiest for their children. We’ll do everything we can to make the smartphone safer so both parents and children have a choice.  

Michael Proper

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