A dad in Colorado bought his tweens smartphones and now he regrets it. This is not an uncommon sentiment from parents. My mum regretted buying my brother a Nokia in 2001, buying my sister an old car in 1997, and on more than on occasion she's regretted bringing me into the world. But most parents bottle up their regret and save it for holiday meals. Tim Farnum of Colorado has elected to be more productive with his regret, channelling it into the creation of the group Parents Against Underage Smartphones (PAUS) and launching a ballot in initiative in his home state that would ban smartphone sales to persons under the age of 13.
Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo
Personally, I blame his kids for this. Farnum told The Washington Post that after he bought his sons, ages 11 and 13, smartphones, they turned reclusive and moody. "If you tell them to watch the screen time, all of a sudden the fangs come out," he said.
The fact that both children might possibly be in the dawn of their teenage years, when all people turn into giant grotesquely swollen arseholes, apparently did not occur to Farnum. Nor did he assume it had something to do with his parental style, which includes supplying Year 6 students with $650 pocket computers that can look up porn with a tap. Instead he assumed it had something to do with the phones themselves.
According to Farnum, the problem peaked when he attempted to deny one of his children his phone and the kid "launched into a temper tantrum that the dad described as equivalent to the withdrawals of a crack addict".
After researching the issue, Farnum came to the conclusion that the children must be protected at all costs, comparing smartphone usage to drugs, alcohol and pornagraphy. "We have age restrictions on all those things because they're harmful to kids," he told the Post. Which is why he and his new organisation, PAUS, proposed Colorado ballot initiative number 29, "Preservation of Natural Childhood".
The proposal "prohibits retailers from selling or permitting the sale of a smartphone to a person under the age of 13, or to any person who indicates that the smartphone will be wholly or partially owned by a person under the age of 13." Retailers found peddling phones to minors would face a fine of up to $US2000 ($2633).
Farnum is reportedly very excited about his proposal. Meanwhile, researchers suggested back in March that declining use of drugs and alcohol by American teens may be due to technology's stimulating and entertaining nature. Dr Silvia Martins, a substance abuse expert at Columbia University, told The New York Times that "playing video games, using social media, that fulfils the necessity of sensation seeking" associated with mind-altering substance abuse.
Which means that if Farnum's proposal passes in 2018, he could be taking the kids of Colorado out of the frying pan and into the fire. Thanks, Dad.