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Parents Refuse Smartphone Access for Children

In a series of interviews for The Washington Post, writer Ellen McCarthy spoke to parents who are bucking the trend of supplying internet-accessible smartphones to their children.

Adriana Stacey of Fayetteville, Arkansas said, “I’ll never buy a smartphone for any of my children.” Stacey is a psychiatrist who works primarily with high school and college students, many of whom are regularly dealing with anxiety, depression, and a lack of focus. She says it’s rare for any of her young clients to admit to less than nine hours of daily smartphone use, which means that they spend more time on their phones than they do sleeping.

Adriana’s daughter, Annalise, admits that it’s hard being one of the only girls at her dance competitions without a smartphone. She said, “I was frustrated because I felt like I was definitely getting left out of things and I didn’t really know how to get included … I’d try to talk to people, but they’d just kind of go on their phones or on Snapchat or whatever.”

Emily Cherkin of Seattle, Washington understands the struggle. Cherkin spent twelve years teaching seventh graders, and now works as a coach and activist, counseling parents on appropriate developmental boundaries for smartphones.

What really troubles me is that we are giving devices and products and apps that are designed to be addictive to children (referring to algorithms designed to maximize user engagement). And then we’re expecting them to self-regulate and getting upset when they do stupid things. Middle school was a safe place, for the most part, for kids to screw up and learn how not to do it again the next time. We’ve just taken away the safety net of messing up without being blasted or shamed across a digital platform.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Part of loving our children is regulating their access to opportunities and situations until they are developmentally ready to show good judgment.

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