Most parents don’t want to give their young children a smartphone, but how do you say no when all their friends have them?

Sooner or later your kids will want smartphones because all the other kids have them. Every parent has asked themselves “at what age should I give my kids a smartphone?”

Teen holding a smartphone

Brooke Shannon started getting the questions from her kids when they were in about the 2nd and 3rd grades. 

“To me, it just seemed super young to be handing over such a powerful device to such young hands,” she said.

She held firm, but…all the other kids were getting them. Her kids felt left out.

“I didn’t want them to be the only kids with their heads up,” Shannon explained. “So I emailed about 20 or so moms just to see what they were thinking about with smartphones. Out of this discussion came up with this idea: what if you had other people waiting with you? What if there was this group momentum to hold the line on smartphones until a certain age.”

   Shannon said they decided on 8th grade. “It gets you through all of elementary school, most of the middle school at that point.”

Phone calls became a movement

    After those 20 or so parents took the pledge in her community, the idea spread. Now, parents from anywhere in the country can sign a pledge to “Wait until 8th”. 

    On their website, www.waituntil8th.org,  parents enter their child’s name, grade, and school. When 10 other parents from that school sign the pledge, they’re notified of the other parents who pledge to hold off.  So far, over 35,000 parents across the country have made the pledge.

Shannon said she’s learned through research and from parents in her community that keeping a smartphone out of the hands of a group of elementary and middle-school-age kids, changes everything.

“It just slows everything down. My friends who gave phones at 9, 10, 11 years old, their kids were shortly on social media within a year or year and a half. After the introduction of their phone, that just speeds everything up.

    Their website has printable flyers, campaign signs, email templates, and other tools to organize the Wait Until 8th movement in your school.

   And what if you’ve already given your pre-8th grader a smartphone? The group suggests blocking the internet and the app stores or giving the child a dumb phone, one that doesn’t connect to the internet. They have suggestions on those devices on their website. www.waituntil8th.org

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