Fears over the side effects of digital devices and social media are prompting tech experts to limit the time they and their children spend online.
Michelle Simmons is Australia’s most decorated technologist. So it may seem surprising that for her three children, aged 11, 14 and 15, smartphones and social media are off limits.
“I saw how addictive it was if they had phones or iPads with them at Saturday sport,” Simmons, the 2018 Australian of the Year, says.
Like many of us, Simmons has witnessed the unnerving spectacle of a small child utterly transfixed on a phone or tablet. “If you try to take a device from them before the age of five, you normally get a pretty strong reaction because they get addicted to it pretty quickly.”
The Scientia professor in quantum physics at the University of NSW doesn’t use social media herself, and seems to find it disheartening how frequently others do.
“You have got half an hour spare, and you can do something that might be quite productive or engrossing, or you can look at the phone. I often see people choose the latter.”
She’s determined to prevent this behaviour at home. “When children are young, they can get access to things they aren’t mature enough to know how to deal with. Limiting access, from that perspective, is about helping them to appreciate their childhood as much as they can.”
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