Are our children masters or slaves of their smartphones?

Moderated by Larry Dignan | June 17, 2013 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Today's youth and their smartphones are virtually inseparable. What does this relationship mean for the always-connected generation?

Matt Baxter-Reynolds

Matt Baxter-Reynolds




Charlie Osborne

Charlie Osborne

Best Argument: Slaves


Audience Favored: Slaves (83%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Kids know what they’re doing

Matt Baxter-Reynolds: Issues have always been created by the fact that children grow up in a world separated by a huge ocean of time from that of their parents.

My dad grew up in the 1940s. I grew up in the 1970s. The sociological changes over that period, over any period for any generation are always going to be profound.

There’s a word I like for kids of the current generation: “screenagers”. It always seems that those whippersnappers are always staring into computer, tablet, and smartphone screens.

That causes consternations for parents who don’t see that it’s just a sociological shift. Screenagers use their smartphones and other compute devices to be social in a way that parents who experienced childhood prior to that technology being available don’t readily understand.

But post-PC technology like smartphones are purely relationship-centric. They don’t work or make any sense without the underlying relationships. So don’t worry, old fogey parents (like me), your kids know what they’re doing. They’re just being differently social.

Being 'connected' is taking over

Charlie Osborne: Children are slaves to their smartphones because we've made them so. Mobile devices offer an extension to social groups through texting, email and, more recently, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This is in itself not a bad thing -- the Internet can bring us closer together and offers a plethora of opportunities later on in life for work and study. However, as mobile adoption is encouraged by parents early on -- whether to give families a way to contact each other in emergencies or simply to keep children entertained -- addiction and reliance can be introduced early on.

It is often difficult to pry children away from their gadgets -- whether in the classroom, when out for a meal or in social situations. These sort of behaviors, replicated by others around them including parents, can run the risk of the next generation lacking in necessary social skills.

Smartphones are meant to be a supplement to our lives -- but now being "connected" takes over.


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  • Too much time and attention paid to things that don't matter

    They live their lives in a world that is not real. They really have a need to pull out and look around at what matters. Reading an endless stream of tweets by celebrities does nothing for them and dims their view on what is important. Celebutants are not role models.
    Reply 9 Votes I'm for Slaves
    • happyharry_z...what you said was a 100% correct

      Too much time and attention paid to things that don't matter
      Over and Out
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Nascent Evolution

      Like Charlie, you appear to be stuck in the rapidly evolving past. The manner in which these devices are utilized is evolving and dramatically changing our definition of social interaction; not to mention all other aspects of our lives.
      Abandon the current paradigmed rut. Think of what could be, not what your fear.
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • Rapidly evolving past?

        You'll have to explain to the rest of us how the past, which is static, could be "rapidly evolving".

        The definition of social interaction is not changing at all- social interaction is just being phased out by digital communication. One's ability to differentiate between the two tells a lot about their "assimilation" status.
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Slaves... and so what?

    Every since electronic media began one generation or the other has become enthralled by one form of diversion or other. Radio, TV, the Internet.... and now Smart Phones and other mobile devices. Don't sweat it because through it all these kids will somehow manage to have normal lives, full of interaction with other people in the REAL world. They have no choice.

    Besides, weren't there people complaining about the printing press?
    Reply 3 Votes I'm for Slaves
    • Normal lives?

      They can't even add or subtract without a digital device. Nor can they sp3@k our language anymore. The rise of the machines.
      Reply 5 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Future shock

        Should we be complaining that they can't use a slide rule and their calligraphy sucks? Or that they know txting shorthand but not secretarial shorthand?

        Technology and languages evolve. The skills you had in the 20th century won't necessarily serve you in the 21st.
        Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
        • @rtechie

          what "skills" do phones provide? it's all APPS that work for you...

          now if you consider typing with your thumb a "skill"....
          Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • Remember the calculator and the abacus

        My tag says for themself.
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
        • ... and English Grammar

          (all your tag are belong to us!)
          Reply 3 Votes I'm Undecided