In a new blog post, Sonoma State University college professor and ecotherapist Shepherd Bliss reports on a pediatrician who was shocked to see a three-year-old using a cell phone.
"The three-year-old just walked right past me, talking into a cell phone," the Santa Rosa, CA, pediatrician said. "I was amused at first. Then I felt sad."
The "kids on cell phones" issue isn't unique to the U.S. On June 23, 2009, the UK's The Times reported that "half of British children aged 5 to 9 own a mobile phone."
So what's the problem?
Well, for starters there are are serious concerns that growing kids' health may be harmed by electromagnetic frequency emissions from cell phones.
And even if science proves these fears to be groundless (which it certainly hasn't done yet), Bliss is also worried about "the long-term consequences of young children already taking their gaze away from living people and constantly-changing nature to look down into and be captured by static machines."
He wonders "Who benefits and what is lost? What is appropriate technology use? What induces obsessive/compulsive/addictive behavior?"
Richard Louv, best-selling author of Last Child in the Woods: Healing Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder is also worried about the long-term consequences of separating our children from the rest of "live" nature. Both he and Bliss have essays in Sierra Club Books' anthology Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind, along with other experts who are equally concerned about what the separation from nature and natural living is doing to both kids and adults.
Bliss, who uses cell phones himself in moderation, believes that "The immediacy of cell phones and their push-button control can increase impatience with slower things, like the development of deep human relationships, lasting love, growing plants, and caring for animals. Cybertime creates unnatural time pressures, heightening stress and anxiety. The tools and technologies that we use are not neutral; they help shape who we become."
So what do you think? Are cell phones harmful to kids? And how old should kids be before they are allowed to use them?
You can read more of Shepherd Bliss's article here.
You can find out more about ecotherapy at www.ecotherapyheals.org and http://thoughtoffering.blogs.com/ecotherapy