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Colorado Campaign Wants To Ban Sale Of Smartphones For Children Below 13 Years Old

19 June 2017, 12:09 am EDT By Allan Adamson Tech Times
Use of touchscreen devices such as tablets and smartphones pose health risks to children. Now, a campaign in Colorado seeks to stop retailers from selling phones for use by children younger than 13 years old.   ( Sean Gallup | Getty Images )

A grassroots effort in Colorado seeks to ban retailers from selling smartphones for use by children below 13 years old. The campaign aims to stop young kids from spending too much time on these devices.

No Sale Of Smartphones For Use By Kids Below 13 Years Of Age

The ban would require phone retailers to ask their customers how old the primary user of the smartphone is. The retailers who sell phones intended for children younger than 13 could face a fine of $500 after warning.

"Retailers must verbally inquire about the age of the intended primary owner of the smartphone prior to the sale, document the response, and file a monthly report to the Department of Revenue," the proposal states.

The campaign is led by Tim Farnum, a board certified anesthesiologist, who has said that children change once they get a cellphone.

"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 adding that toddlers may even experience speech and language difficulties as a result of constantly looking at screens.

"Eventually kids are going to get phones and join the world, and I think we all know that, but little children, there's just no good that comes from that."

Farnum said that his campaign was inspired after he watched his own kids struggle with the impact of always having a device in their hands.

About 300,000 voters' signatures are needed so the proposal would make the 2018 ballot but as early as now, the idea already faces challenges. Democratic state Sen. John Kefalas, for instance, said that he understands the reasoning behind the proposal but noted that it would overstep the role of the government.

"I think it should remain a family matter," Kefalas said. "Ultimately, this comes down to parents ... making sure their kids are not putting themselves at risk."

Risks Posed By Touchscreen Devices To Children

Farnum's concerns, though, is not unfounded. Several studies have already shown the dangers of kids' use of devices.

A research published in March showed that more than three hours of regular screen use can pose a range of health risks including the onset of diabetes in young children.

In a 2016 study, researchers found that parents who hand over mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads to children who are having tantrums could inflict developmental damages to their children. Too much use of devices in young children can interfere in the development of skills that children need to possess. Instead of developing coping mechanisms, problem solving skills, and empathy, which can be acquired through interactions with other people, children with devices are glued to the screens.

In another study, which involved children between 6 and 36 months who are exposed to touchscreen devices, researchers found that frequent touchscreen use can impact the sleeping patterns of these children. Researchers of another research found that use of tablets and smartphones in bed can double the risk of poor sleep in children.

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