Parents and guardians, not government, should be the ones deciding at what age their children can have — and use — a smartphone.
Yet, a movement in Colorado — Parents Against Underage Smartphones — is working to get an initiative on that state’s ballot that would ban the sale of smartphones to those under the age of 13. The proposal, which has not yet qualified for the 2018 ballot, would require cellphone retailers to ask customers about the age of the primary user of a smartphone. Retailers who sell a phone for use by a preteen would get a warning for the first offense, but could face fines from $500 to $20,000 for continued violations, according to a Colorado TV station.
“Eventually kids are going to get phones and join the world, and I think we all know that, but little children, there’s just no good that comes from that,” said Dr. Tim Farnum, the leader of this movement.
Farnum makes a valid point. It is not particularly wise to let a preteen (or even some teens) have unfettered access to smartphones and, by extension, the internet.
Frankly, the same goes for any computer with access to the internet as well as cable television. A lot can go wrong when children who are not intellectually prepared have access to full view of all that is on the World Wide Web, as well as communication with adults who might want to harm them.
Farnum said he was inspired to see the ban in Colorado after watching his own kids struggle with the psychological effects of always having a device in hand.
“They would get the phone and lock themselves in their room and change who they were,” he said.
Again, he’s not wrong.
While Farnum’s intentions are good, it’s likely the only parents who would take such a ban seriously are the very people who are already monitoring smartphone use in their home.
But it is up to Farnum and other parents and guardians to set the limits on the use of smartphones and similar technology for their children. The government should not be allowed to set the limits nor enforce those limits.