While the debate about how social media affects teenagers continues, one mom came up with an idea for trying to get parents to hold off on giving their kids smartphones until they’re at least 14 years old. Brooke Shannon created the Wait Until 8th pledge, which asks parents to promise “not to give your child a smartphone until at least 8th grade as long as at least 10 other families from your child’s grade and school pledge as well.”
It started when Shannon saw kids at their elementary school with smartphones and she started talking to other moms and dads about the dangers that come with having one - including distraction, negatively affecting sleep, cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate content on the Internet, among other concerns. So she started the pledge in hopes of creating a support network for parents who do want to delay giving their kid a smartphone and to give her kids a group of friends to wait with.
Since then, the pledge has become a whole movement, one that child development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa says could be helpful to parents in two ways. It can give those struggling with “What is the right age?” information that normalizes the idea that kids don’t need a smartphone before they’re 14 and it gives extra support to parents feeling overwhelmed by pressure to give their younger kid a phone so they don’t feel like they’re the only one holding out. “Childhood is too short to waste on the distractions and dangers that come with a smartphone,” Shannon explains. “Let's let kids be kids a little longer.”