Parents of preteens know the dismay that comes with this image: kids flopped on the couch for stretches of your time, silent and mesmerized by smartphones. Maybe it’s Snapchat, maybe its Facebook or Instagram — but they scroll and scroll, oblivious to an outdoor world that beckons with all things tangible and sunny: a pool, a diamond, a motorcycle ride.
The things that lure kids into their walled-off worlds have evolved over the years: Pac-Man within the ’80s, Nintendo within the ’90s. Today, it is a smartphone that sometimes can appear to be the Pacific between you and your children. Recently, a backlash against the trend has burgeoned within the sort of Wait Until 8th, a movement that encourages parents to carry off on giving their children smartphones until the eighth grade, when their kids are usually 13 or 14.
Led by a former Chicago resident who now lives in Austin, Texas, the group launched this spring and now has quite 2,000 parents as members, the Tribune’s Kate Thayer reports. a minimum of 100 families in Illinois have joined. Nothing is binding in being a member. Parents simply take a pledge to “wait until eighth,” adhering to the group’s belief that grade school is just too soon for teenagers to start tapping and scrolling on smartphones.
There’s a need for youngsters who haven’t reached their teen years to possess phones for communication and safety reasons, but the group stresses that major cellular service carriers offer basic packages for calls and texts — without data plans. “Smartphones are distracting, dangerous and detrimental for youngsters, yet are widespread in elementary and secondary school due to unrealistic social pressure and expectations to possess one,” the group’s website declares.
OK, we feel your pain, Wait Until 8th. But we expect there are a better thanks to checking out this. Kids still bond in playgrounds, school hallways and backyards, but smartphones have changed the way we socialize, which doesn’t just choose grown-ups. Kids now connect digitally, through texts, FaceTime, social media, the list goes on. it is a real parent can’t ignore.
But it is also a reality parents do not have to simply accept unconditionally. Being a parent means being proactive about everything, which includes listening stewards of their kids’ use of smartphones. Keeping them off the dining table and far away from reach at bedtime are sensible ground rules. There also are apps that allow parents to regulate when their kids can use their phones and what apps are accessible, Thayer writes. Setting boundaries is a component of a parent’s description, and that is especially important when it involves a kid’s smartphone use.
It’s up to every parent to make a decision when to shop for a smartphone for his or her child, and the way to watch the device’s usage. Every kid, and each family dynamic, is different. “There’s no research evidence that getting a phone at too young of an age is bad or good,” Yalda Uhls, author of “Media Moms & Digital Dads: A Fact-Not-Fear Approach to Parenting within the Digital Age,” told Thayer. What matters is being engaged enough in your kids’ use of the phone to understand if, when — and the way — it becomes a drag.