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Colorado Dad Aims to Ban Smartphone Sales to Preteens

CNN reports that a Colorado father is picking a fight with the smart phone industry. He is petitioning to ban smart phone sales to children under age 13. He was motivated to take this step after a violent outburst by one of his children after he took away his smart phone. He said his child’s intense response and sullen demeanor was akin to an addict’s.

Is there anything to this dad’s complaints and will his petition resonate with the voters of Colorado? Is it fair to characterize children as being less physically fit and addicted to technology? There certainly are some troubling aspects of social media use and smart phone use among children. 

Overall social media use, and especially nighttime use, is associated with poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression among 12- to 18-year-olds, according to researchers. Children who use electronic media at night go to bed later, get fewer hours of sleep per week and report more daytime sleepiness

Another risk has to do with the fact that media usage is often a sedentary activity. Children spend more than 60 percent of their waking day sedentary, and by some estimates, children sit an average of 8.5 hours a day. Further, activity levels are thought to decline steeply after age 8, especially among girls.

Banning or even massively scaling back cellphone use in children may be an impossible task. So how can you find a happy medium that allows your child to connect with friends without damaging effects to his or her self-esteem, sleep schedule or grades? For starters, become familiar with the social media platforms your child is using. When you find yourself checking to see if your Facebook post was "liked" by your friends, you'll begin to understand how all-consuming it can become for a teen.

Parents may also want to establish an "electronic curfew" for their children and teens to prevent social media usage from interfering with quality sleep or interrupting important activities like family meals and homework. Also, encourage teens to put down their phones and engage in other activities often, and to keep social media in perspective.
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