Kids and Cell Phones – A Guide for Christian Parents

My children are 5 years apart in school and as a result, their high school experiences did not overlap. In just that brief period between them, cell phone usage (and, sadly, their necessity now for some school work) has dramatically changed. How can Christian parents navigate this rapidly changing environment? How can we put the brakes on what feels like a runaway train? Here I will explore some answers to common questions Christian parents have about kids and cell phones.

But first, let’s review some information on childhood brain development.

Childhood brain development

You likely already know all about the extreme amount of growth and transformation that happens in a child’s brain. Throughout childhood (which, brain-speaking, is up until the age of about 24), the brain is rapidly changing as it matures, assimilates new information, and creates neuropathways. The brain has plasticity and changes throughout the life span, but the most intense growth happens when we are young.

Have your ever asked your child, “What were you thinking?” when they engaged in a particular risky or dangerous behavior? I can answer that for you. They weren’t. At least not in the way that you think. Children do not have easy access to the parts of their brains that say, “Hold on. Let’s think this through a second.” They have an idea and they do it. (Or if you have a particularly anxious kid, they don’t. But it’s not executive functioning holding them back. It’s fear.)

We also know from research that cell phone usage increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurochemical responsible for motivation, pleasure and even movement. Not surprisingly, kids’ developing brains are highly sensitive to the effects of dopamine. Cell phone usage provides a flood of this feel-good neurochemical and the association between using a phone and feeling good gets imprinted pretty quickly ensuring they will return for more.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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