Did you know that the average age children get their first smartphone is now ten?
That’s incredibly young to be constantly connected to the internet; to worry about documenting every moment to share with friends and followers; to have unlimited access to games designed to be addictive; and to be accessible 24/7 to data miners and marketers who don’t have your best interests at heart. And of course, if ten is the average, that means many six, seven, and eight-year-olds now have their own phones as well.
As young children see their friends getting phones, they naturally want one too. And parents, sometimes against our better judgement, often give in because we don’t want our children to be socially isolated from their peers.
That’s why I’m so excited about the Wait Until 8th Pledge. The pledge was started by a group of parents in Texas who decided to use peer pressure and group momentum for good. They committed together to not get their children smart phones until at least 8th grade. Now the pledge is spreading across the country, and thousands of families have signed on.
I signed for my 8-year-old daughter, and I hope you will too. Here’s how it works:
You pledge not to get your child a smartphone until 8th grade. A pledge becomes "active" once 10 or more families from a grade at a school sign. They made the pledge this way so you don't have to worry about, "what if I’m the only parent that signs this in my kid's grade?" Having the pledge kick in at 10 signers takes some of that pressure off while encouraging others to join in.
Of course, signing the pledge is just the first step. If you want other families in your school to sign on, you’ll need to talk to them. And that, in my opinion, is one of the best things about the pledge: it’s a great tool to start those difficult conversations. Smartphones are powerful devices that completely changed childhood. We need to talk as communities about the role we want phones to play (or not play) in our children’s lives.
Will you join me in pledging to wait until 8th? As the pledge’s founder Brooke Shannon says, “Childhood is too short to waste on a smartphone. Let’s let kids be kids a little longer!”
P.S. The pledge only applies to smartphones. If you want your child to have a phone so you can keep in touch with her, you can get her a basic phone that just calls and texts and still sign the pledge!