A group of Colorado-based activists known as PAUS, or Parents Against Underage Smartphones, are looking to build steam under their proposed legislation that would curb the sale of smartphones to children younger than 13, according to a report published by the Coloradoan newspaper, which goes on to cite that officials have already drafted a ballot measure that could potentially see its way onto the 2018 ballot.
Backers of the move, which was spearheaded by native Colorado-based pediatrician, Dr. Tim Farnum, would at this point need to collect a minimum of 300,000 voter signatures in order for their legislation to appear on the state’s ballot in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
“Eventually kids are going to get phones and join the world, and I think we all know that,” Farnum said to the Coloradoan over the weekend. “But little children, there’s just no good that comes from that.”
The legislation would impose a statewide ban on the sale of smartphones to users under the age of 13 — and would also require cellphone retailers (such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or even Best Buy) to ask all customers about the age of the device’s primary user prior to sale. As if that wasn’t enough, account holders would then be required to submit monthly reports directly to the Colorado Department of Revenue, indicating they are still in adherence with the requirement.
Under the ostensibly utopian regulations set forth by the initiative, retailers who are caught selling smartphones to persons under the age of 13 would be issued “a warning” after their first offense, with subsequent offenses punishable by fines ranging anywhere from $500 to as much as $20,000 per violation, according to Denver-based FOX News affiliate, KDVR-TV.
Dr. Farnum explained that he was encouraged to make the push in light of witnessing his own kids struggle with the “psychological effects of always having a device in hand.” “They would get the phone and lock themselves in their room and change who they were,” he said.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released an updated slate of guidelines for children’s “media use,” which includes the use of smartphones, state legislators have expressed concern that Initiative 29 — as it’s now formally known — would embody a gross overreach of the government’s power. According to the AAP, it’s now recommended that a child’s exposure to screen time be limited to no more than one hour per day of “high-quality programming” until they’ve reached the age of six, at which point parents are encouraged to set “consistent time limits” that would ensure their child’s use of electronic devices doesn’t take time away from their sleep or physical activity.
Colorado’s Democratic State Senator, John Kefalas, explained that while he fully understands the reasoning behind the controversial measure, it would inherently “overstep the government’s role.” “Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,” Kefalas said, while adding that “Ultimately, this comes down to parents making sure their kids are not putting themselves at risk.”