Sign right here: The parents across the US pledging to keep kids phone-free until they turn 14

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Jun 17, 2024, 04:00 PM


Jun 17, 2024, 04:00 PM

NEW YORK – Ms Kiley DeMarco recently attended Safety Night at her children’s public elementary school on Long Island in New York.

As she walked around different booths learning about how to protect her children from accidentally taking a cannabis gummy, about a local violence-prevention programme, about how police officers would respond to an emergency on campus, one station caught her eye. A parent was asking other parents to take a pledge not to give their children smartphones until the end of eighth grade (the equivalent of Secondary 2).

Ms DeMarco has two children – one in kindergarten and one in first grade. But like many parents, she has already read books and research arguing that smartphones, and the social media apps on them, drastically increase anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts in teenagers.

Asking parents in the same school to commit to holding back phones until a certain age made sense to her. “It means there is no grey area,” she said. “There is a clear grade level when they get the phone.”

The idea of acting collectively, in lock step with other parents, made her feel more confident that she could keep her commitment. “It totally takes the pressure off of us as parents,” she said. “Down the road, when my kids start begging for phones, we can say we signed this pledge for our community and we are sticking to it.”

In schools and communities across the United States, parents are signing documents pledging not to give their children smartphones until after middle school (the equivalent of lower secondary). The idea, organisers say, is that if parents take action together, their children are less likely to feel isolated because they are not the only ones without TikTok in their pockets.

Considering the prevalence of smartphone use am...

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