Thursday, June 13, 2024
Smartphone news

Parents talk about why they are waiting to give their kids cell phones

(WFSB) – With smartphones you’re always just a click away, and having the world at your fingertips is not always a good thing, especially for children.

“When I was young, we looked at magazines and we saw these standards of beauty that still effect the way that I think about myself and my body. The internet, these apps are like a brand-new magazine every 10 minutes. It’s like a constant barrage of information,” said Meghann McKale.

According to Common Sense Media, 42-percent of American children have a smartphone by age 10, and 71-percent by age 12.

Worried about the dangers and distractions that come with having a phone at an early age, one mom of three in Austin, Texas decided she was on a mission to change those statistics.

She started Wait Until 8th, a pledge for parents to delay giving their child a smartphone until 8th grade.

“I wanted to start Wait Until 8th because I got that question when can I have a smartphone mom sooner than I thought I was going to,” said Brooke Shannon.

She started the pledge six years ago and within months, it was in every state.

It quickly became a resource to connect like-minded parents and form a community of support against the inevitable social pressures.

More than 50,000 families across the country are involved.

“That’s really rewarding to hear that we are changing people’s lives through this pledge. We’re giving kids four more years free of the distractions that come with a phone and four more years to be a kid without a phone in their back pocket,” Brooke said.

In Connecticut 2,500 parents have signed up.

Helping drive that number up is Keri Langerman, a mom of two in Fairfield.

After reading about the negative impacts of early exposure to smartphones and social media on children, Keri was moved to take the Wait Until 8th pledge.

“I’m hoping to give them just more time to understand who they are and what they want and I’m hoping to give them a little more agency into how they see themselves and the world,” Keri said.

Keri started a local chapter of the nationally recognized organization and championed the pledge, empowering others in her community to say yes to waiting to give their kids a smartphone.

“So I sent it to about 20 parents that I knew in my kids’ grades and from there each person told one person and now we have over 500 families in Fairfield who have signed the pledge,” said Keri.

One of those moms is Meghann McKale.

Trading phone time for kids play time was something that immediately resonated with her and was something she wanted to implement within her own family, including her middle school aged daughter.

“I want her to be a part of her family and to sit down with us for meals and do the homework in the room where I am so I know what is going on in her life and so she continues to feel that I’m someone she can come to when she has problems rather than googling it. I want to be the person she comes to when she has questions about all of the big things we question in life,” Meghann said.

These parents said there are so many reasons to wait.

A number of recent studies have highlighted those reasons, showing massive evidence of harm while exposing the dangers of smartphones to a child’s mental health, academic performance, sleep, behavior and risk for cyber bullying.

In a study by Sapien Labs, their researchers collected data from nearly 28,000 young adults in 41 countries.

They found those who got their first smartphone or tablet at an earlier age reported worse mental health as young adults: lower self-worth, motivation, and resilience and more sadness, anxiety and aggression, especially for girls.

“Educating yourself about the dangers is for me the number one thing because now that I know those things, I can’t possibly let my child be exposed to them,” said Meghann.

For those who didn’t have a cell phone until 8th grade like Fairfield Warde High school senior Zen Blanks, they say the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

“I have a lot of self-confidence now especially compared to my other friends that got their phones at a young age. I’m not comparing myself to other people. I don’t have to look at the beauty standards that I see on TikTok every day,” said Zen.

One phone by one phone, making a difference in communities across the country.

It’s a tall order, but these moms say childhood is too short to waste on a smartphone.

“If we all do this together, all of our kids will not only benefit from not being exposed to social media and the internet, they’re also going to benefit from a very different type of childhood, a different path than if we had all just given them phones,” Keri said.


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