Colorado Parents Petition to Ban Smartphone Sales to Children

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. outburst / ˈaʊtˌbɜrst / (n) – an unexpected expression of strong feelings

    The teacher was surprised by the boy’s violent outburst.

  2. withdraw / wɪðˈdrɔ, wɪθ- / (v) – to stop from doing something

    My daughter withdrew from playing with dolls when she became a teenager.

  3. in place / ɪn pleɪs / (idiom) – currently in effect or being used

    We did not change the rule book because the old rules were still in place.

  4. detrimental / ˌdɛ trəˈmɛn tl / (adj) – harmful

    Watching too much TV is detrimental to children’s health.

  5. well-being / ˈwɛlˈbi ɪŋ / (n) – the state of having good physical, mental, or emotional condition

    I always ask how my child is feeling because I am concerned about his emotional well-being.


Read the text below.

A physician from Colorado has started a petition to ban selling smartphones to children in his state.

Together with other parents in the medical field, Dr. Timothy Farnum founded the organization Parents Against Underage Smartphones (PAUS). The group is campaigning to prohibit children under 13 from being able to buy smartphones. PAUS is also petitioning for retailers to determine the age of the person who will use the gadget before selling it.

Dr. Farnum, a father of five, is concerned that his children are becoming addicted to smartphones. In one incident, one of his sons had an angry outburst when he took the child’s smartphone away. He also noticed that his children have withdrawn from outdoor activities. Dr. Farnum believes that letting young children use smartphones is as dangerous as allowing minors to use tobacco or alcohol, and that age restrictions for the gadgets should be in place.

Several studies support Dr. Farnum’s claim about the detrimental effects of overusing smartphones. For instance, the latest study from Australian Child Health Poll found that excessive use of smartphones led to several problems in children’s social and emotional well-being. In addition, a recent German study also found that children who spend too much time using gadgets tend to be hyperactive and aggressive.

Despite the validity of Dr. Farnum’s concerns, however, some are skeptical that his proposal will lessen children’s smartphone use. Dr. Donald Shifrin, an expert on children’s health, said that banning smartphone sales among children may not make any difference in controlling their smartphone use. Instead, he emphasized that parents have the responsibility to manage how their children use smartphones.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, at what age should children be allowed to own a smartphone? Why?
• Do you think children in your country use smartphones too much? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think smartphones can be used to encourage children to be healthier? If so, how?
• Aside from smartphone use, what other things can affect children’s health (e.g. food choices, peers, media)? Discuss.