‘Giving my kids smartphones at 13 was mistake,’ says Madonna
FIRST Bill Gates’s wife Melinda admitted she regrets giving her teenage children smartphones... and now Madonna has said she, too, wishes she had her own children away from the devices for longer.
In an interview with Vogue magazine, the superstar singer said she gave her children Lourdes and Rocco their own phones when they were 13 – and that it ‘ended her relationship’ with them for a period.
She has now banned her adopted son David, who is 13, from having his own smartphone. Asked about the issue of
‘It became a very big part of their lives’
giving smartphones to her younger children, she told the magazine: ‘I’m going to stick that one out for as long as possible, because I made a mistake when I gave my older [ children] phones when they were 13.’
‘It ended my relationship with them, really. Not completely, but it became a very, very big part of their lives.
‘They became too inundated with imagery and started to compare themselves with other people, and that’s really bad for self-growth.’
The star is one of the latest in a long line of high-profile figures to acknowledge publicly the harm that smartphones are doing to a generation of children – an issue which the Irish Daily Mail’s ‘Protect Our Kids Online’ campaign has been highlighting for more than two years.
Thus far, the Mail’s campaign has helped lead to the planned establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner, which was announced by Communications Minister Richard Bruton last month, and to Ireland keeping the digital age of consent at 16, despite powerful tech industry-backed efforts to have the age reduced to just 13.
In 2017, Melinda Gates wrote in The Washington Post that she wished she hadn’t allowed her children to have a smartphone when they were 13.
‘As a mother who wants to make sure her children are safe and happy, I worry,’ she wrote. ‘And I think back to how I might have done things differently... I probably would have waited longer before putting a computer in my children’s pockets. Phones and apps aren’t good or bad by themselves, but for adolescents who don’t yet have the emotional tools to navigate life’s complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up.’
Last week, the director of the Irish Child and Family Institute , Kieran McGrath, gave a stark warning that s martphones have the potential to be ‘extremely dangerous objects’.
In a newly published booklet on what he sees as an explosion in child sexualisation, f ormer social worker Mr McGrath said: ‘Parents need to ask themselves if their child really needs to have possession of something potentially dangerous. If they were carrying around a loaded gun or knife, what kinds of conversations would parents have with them about it?’
Parent: Madonna in 2008 with Lourdes
Family: Madonna with, back, Rocco, David and Mercy, and, front, Lourdes, Stella and Esther