Babies and cell phones: a linguistic disaster

Maria Rovito
Managing Editor

When I was a kid back in the 1990s, I can most certainly tell you that no one in my family owned a cell phone. A PC computer didn’t exist in my house until the end of 1999, and the only game I remember on it was solitaire. You could get to the AOL website, and you could doodle in neon colors on Microsoft Paint. That was about it.

During my years at day care, I remember playing outside most of the day. Other than that, we had to actually socialize with other kids to play games. I don’t think any of my school friends actually bought a GameBoy until grade school.

(Photo courtesy of mom365.com).
(Photo courtesy of mom365.com).

Looking at children nowadays, I am noticing a vast difference between our two generations: the use of cell phones.

When I use the term ‘children’, I am describing the age group between newborns and school-aged kids. Teens and pre-teens using cell phones are a completely different issue.

For example, I have noticed that many parents of babies and toddlers just hand over their smartphone to their children and let them play on it. My three-year-old niece can play with my iPhone for hours on end. I have seen parents simply let little ones play games on their phones just to keep them quiet.

Raising a child can be difficult work, no doubt. However, a parent cannot just simply entertain a kid by letting him or her play with a cell phone.

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(Photo courtesy of defensivedrivinghabits.com).
(Photo courtesy of defensivedrivinghabits.com).

A startling discovery from the London-based National Literacy Trust finds that a survey of 17,000 U.K. children under the age of seven found that while 86 percent owned a cell phone, only 73 percent said they owned a book.

This is directly related to a decrease in literacy rates among young ones: some 80 percent of children with better than expected reading skills had their own books, compared with just 58 percent who were below the level expected for their age group.

The Trust has stated, “Simple interactions, such as being read to, and exposure to books, magazines, newspapers and environmental print, impact children’s progress in learning to read, and children who come from richer home literacy environments show higher levels of reading knowledge and skills at the start of kindergarten and throughout primary school.”

The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families has stated, “Playtime is where writing and reading begin. When books, paper and writing material are among the objects children play with, important literacy learning can occur.”

Instead of just handing over your phone the next time your child is bored, give them crayons and paper instead. These young ones need to learn how to read and write through tangible, creative methods, not just through Candy Crush Saga.