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Is Your Child Ready for a Smartphone — Or Not?

“Can I pleeeeeeze get a smartphone?”

If your child hasn’t yet popped the question, chances are you’ll hear it soon. Just what age is the right age to let kids have their own phone?

Pediatrician David Hornick, MD, suggests you consider four questions before saying yes. 

1. Why does your child want a smartphone?

“Talk with your child first. Do they hope to text, talk, use social media or browse the web?” he says.

A good discussion will reveal your child’s expectations for the device as well as any social pressures they’re facing.

Kids in late middle school are likely doing some things independently, so having a phone to keep in touch isn’t a bad idea. But maturity counts more than chronological age, he says.

And if talking and texting are the goals, regular cell phones without internet access are an option. 

2. Are you ready to set, and enforce, limits?

Dr. Hornick says successful smartphone use depends on parents being able to set limits like:

  • The number of hours a day kids can spend on the phone
  • Situations where smartphone use is unacceptable (e.g., family meals)
  • Websites kids will be allowed to visit

“Parents also need to monitor their child’s social activity on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and other channels,” he says. “Let them choose one or two social platforms; being on all of them will take up too much time.”

Banning phones from the bedroom is also important. Turn them off one hour before bedtime, and keep them off until morning, says Dr. Hornick.

Kids in middle school should be able to fall asleep within 30 minutes. Viewing any screen (smartphone, tablet, laptop, TV) before bed disrupts that process.

“You also don’t want kids checking social media at night or answering texts at 3 a.m.” he says.

Your child may argue that a smartphone can serve as their alarm clock. But any inexpensive alarm clock will work just fine and be much less tempting.

To control smartphone use, many parents sign pledges with their child. Both parties sign off on a series of rules — and the consequences for breaking them.

Pledges can be useful as long as you enforce the consequences. But that’s not so easy.

“Discipline is one of the most painful and uncomfortable aspects of being a parent, but it’s also incredibly important,” says Dr. Hornick.

3. Is your child mature enough to use a smartphone responsibly? 

In today’s world, it’s acceptable to buy a child a smartphone between 12 and 14 years of age, he says. But those aren’t magic numbers; your child’s maturity is what matters.

The brain’s prefrontal cortex, which allows us to act rationally, and control our urges and emotions, doesn’t fully develop until we reach our 20s. That’s why teens can be so impulsive.

“This lack of impulse control, coupled with peer pressure, can be disastrous for children not mature enough to handle the challenges of owning a smartphone,” says Dr. Hornick.

“Access to smartphones and social media has the potential to expose kids to bullying, sexting, pornography and violence.”

Parental controls can help you manage which sites your children visit on a smartphone. But kids can find ways to work around those settings, he cautions.

4. Do you model responsible behavior with your smartphone use?

It’s easy to develop addictive behavior with smartphones. Let’s face it, they’re hard to put down.

But it’s important to get your own use in check. Then you can set a good example for appropriate limits for your children, he says.

“Kids will model their parents,” says Dr. Hornick. “Parents who are on their phones all the time are sending a message to their child that ‘it’s OK — and you can do it, too.’”

Still unsure? Try this first

Not sure your child can handle a smartphone? Try lending him or her your phone for a short time first and supervise the activity, Dr. Hornick advises.

“See what your child does. Then talk about it together. It could be a good learning experience,” he says.

SOURCE: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2018/02/is-your-child-ready-for-a-smartphone-or-not/


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Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19

Dear Patients:

Our patients, employees and family are our top priority at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

We ask you to not visit any of our locations if you have symptoms such as fever, sneezing, coughing and possible shortness of breath.

Please cancel your appointment and re-schedule once you are feeling better and are no longer suffering with symptoms.

Only non-symptomatic patients will be seen. No exceptions.

Accompanying family members – including children – are asked to remain in the waiting area and will not be allowed to enter the exam rooms.

During this time of high concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are taking extra precautions to maintain the highest possible standards of safety and cleanliness. Please be advised that we are carefully following recommendations from both the CDC and WHO and are here to help guide you through this time if needed.

Some steps we are taking to keeping safe:

  1. We know how important cleanliness is and always maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. To further offer you peace of mind, we have increased the frequency of the cleaning of our office.
  2. Rest assured that hand washing is strictly followed. Hand sanitizer is available to all staff and patients.
  3. Additionally, if you have recently traveled to a country with high rates of the coronavirus or have been on a cruise, please reschedule your visit for at least 14 days from your return date. We will gladly accommodate your needs to reschedule. At that time, a telehealth interface can be arranged if necessary.

Find up-to-date and accurate information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and feel free to reach out with questions.

- Your team at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

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