Parents Against Underage Smartphones: Colorado group looks to ban them for children under 13

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Group of cheerful children posing at urban street with mobile devices

DENVER, Colorado — In Colorado, there’s a new grassroots effort to stop the sale of cell phones for use by children under the age of 13.

According to KDVR, the group, Parents Against Underage Smartphones (PAUS), is collecting signatures to get the initiative on the 2018 ballot.

Colorado officials have cleared the language of the proposed ballot measure, the Associated Press reported Sunday, June 18th. Supporters need about 300,000 signatures.

“The ban would require cellphone retailers to ask customers about the age of the primary user of a smartphone and submit monthly reports to the Colorado Department of Revenue on adhering to the requirement,” the AP reported. “Retailers who sell a phone for use by a youngster could be fined $500, after a warning.”

KDVR spoke with the founder of the PAUS group, Dr. Timothy Farnum, who is a board certified anesthesiologist. Farnum said once children get a cell phone, they change.

“They go from being outgoing, energetic, interested in the world and happy, to reclusive. They want to spend all their time in their room. They lose interest in outside activities.” Farnum said.

Farnum said even toddler can experience speech and language difficulties after constantly looking at screens.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following guidelines for cell phone use by children:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
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