Modern society has long agreed that cigarettes should be banned for young people because of the harm they cause young, developing bodies and brains. Today nobody argues that children should be able to buy a pack of Camels (although this was, of course, the big push by the tobacco industry decades ago).
Now that science has confirmed cellphones pose a very real risk to the brains of young people, is it time to debate banning such devices from being habitually used by young people? The libertarian argument, of course, is, “No way!” Government has no role banning people from using cellphones at any age, they say. But what if cellphone use is proven to cause brain damage and mental illness?
Then the argument becomes the same argument as the Big Tobacco scenario. At what point should the freedom of individuals be curtailed in the interests of protecting young people from severe brain damage caused by the use of certain products? Meth is currently illegal, by the way, for precisely this reason: It is widely known to be extremely damaging to human biology (and neurology). If harmful cellphones are legal for children to use, why don’t the freedom argument people argue the same reasoning for meth use by children, too? Granted, there is a huge disparity between the severity of harm caused by meth vs. cellphones, but there’s no question they both cause some degree of harm. How much harm are we as a society going to say is “okay” for children when there’s a better option of causing no harm at all?
This article isn’t the right place to debate this issue, which is why I’m primarily just raising the question here for future debate. Personally, I think parents who allow their children to acquire and use cellphones at any age under 12 years old are extremely irresponsible and causing serious long-term damage to their children. But the social pressure for all children to acquire such devices and use them for social conformity behaviors (i.e. snapchatting all their friends every 25 seconds to “fit in”) is overwhelming, so it’s easy to see why so many parents cave in and give their children mobile devices at increasingly young ages.
It’s time, I think, to start questioning the wisdom of such tolerance. Now that we know cellphones definitely cause long-term brain damage, we must debate this issue for the sake of all future children who may be unknowingly harming themselves with lifelong brain damage.
It’s clear that something is damaging the brains of our youth…