Father for ban on smartphone sales to kids 13 and under

In Health


Denver, Colorado-area anesthesiologist Tim Farnum and the Parents Against Underage Smartphones (PAUS) nonprofit drafted a bill to make it illegal to sell smartphones to children under the age of 13

Denver, Colorado-area anesthesiologist Tim Farnum and the Parents Against Underage Smartphones (PAUS) nonprofit drafted a bill to make it illegal to sell smartphones to children under the age of 13

Denver, Colorado-area anesthesiologist Tim Farnum and the Parents Against Underage Smartphones (PAUS) nonprofit drafted a bill to make it illegal to sell smartphones to children under the age of 13

A Colorado doctor and dad wants to establish legal limits for smartphone sales to children after seeing a noticeable difference in how his own kids acted.

Denver, Colorado-area anesthesiologist Tim Farnum and the Parents Against Underage Smartphones (PAUS) nonprofit drafted a bill to make it illegal to sell smartphones to children under the age of 13.

The decision to write the bill came after Dr Farnum noticed a difference in behavior from his two youngest sons – age 11 and 13. 

‘There were some real problems,’ Farnum, 49, told The Washington Post

‘If you tell them to watch the screen time, all of a sudden the fangs come out.’ 

The father-of-five asserted that his once energetic and outgoing children became reclusive and antisocial once they received phones and stayed a majority of time in their rooms. 

At one point, he even tried taking one of their phones away, to which he says one of his sons then launched into a temper tantrum that was the equivalent to that of a crack addict. 

He would then do his own research, finding that too much technology can brain development impairment, hinder social skills and an unhealthy dependence on the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Doing his own research, Dr Farnum found that too much technology can brain development impairment, hinder social skills and an unhealthy dependence on the neurotransmitter dopamine (stock image)

Doing his own research, Dr Farnum found that too much technology can brain development impairment, hinder social skills and an unhealthy dependence on the neurotransmitter dopamine (stock image)

Doing his own research, Dr Farnum found that too much technology can brain development impairment, hinder social skills and an unhealthy dependence on the neurotransmitter dopamine (stock image)

Forming PAUS in February along with other medical professionals, the group wrote the ballot initiative no. 29 which if passed would make Colorado the first state to make legal limits on smartphones sales to children.

The potential ban would require retailers would ask the age of the primary user of a device as well as a submission of monthly adherence reports to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

On top of investigating violations and collecting penalties, the department will also be responsible for setting up a website portal for the reports.

A written warning is followed up by a $500 fine in the case of a violation. 

'Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,' Colorado state Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins told the Coloradoan

'Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,' Colorado state Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins told the Coloradoan

‘Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,’ Colorado state Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins told the Coloradoan

While parents across the state have come out in support of the bill, there are some who are skeptical about what pushing a bill like that implies. 

‘Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,’ Colorado state Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins told the Coloradoan.

‘I know there have been different proposals out there regarding the Internet and putting filters on websites that might put kids at risk. I think ultimately, this comes down to parents … making sure their kids are not putting themselves at risk.’

Dr Farnum understands the sentiment but stresses that excessive premature smartphone usage is the equivalent risk the same as smoking, drinking and watching porn.

‘We have age restrictions on all those things because they’re harmful to kids,’ Farnum said. 

‘This is no different, in my opinion.’ 

The bill does distinguish between smartphones and cellular phones as some parents do use their’s just to reach their children. 

The bill does distinguish between smartphones and cellular phones as some parents do use their's just to reach their children (stock image)

The bill does distinguish between smartphones and cellular phones as some parents do use their's just to reach their children (stock image)

The bill does distinguish between smartphones and cellular phones as some parents do use their’s just to reach their children (stock image)

And as far as implementation, PAUS will have to gather roughly 100,000 signatures over the next year and a half to get the bill on the 2018 ballot. 

But the petition will need to be submitted in paper and done by hand as Colorado does not accept digital petition signatures.

He said: ‘It’s kind of ironic, perhaps. We’re going to have to go knock on doors and sit outside grocery stores. It’s slowly gaining steam.’ 

At home, Dr Farnum’s two children no longer use smartphones and the father has seen a noticeable difference in their behavior. 

One even said to him: ‘Hey dad, I really like reading now.’