By: Brooke Shannon
For a decade, our culture has been racing against a rapidly accelerating hamster wheel of pace and pressure, facilitated by the silky conveniences of smartphones. In our struggle to keep up with the latest technology, we have given our lives over to a sense of futility that this is just the way it is.
But as author Malcolm Gladwell offers in his book, "Tipping Point," while the world "may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not, with the slightest push--in just the right place--it can be tipped. "
And with the recent addition of powerful new voices, perspectives, and pledges, the Wait Until 8th conversation is flourishing--a beautiful illustration of the change that Gladwell describes. Parents are examining alarming recent research about kids, smartphones and social media. Moms and dads across the nation are asking why do so many young kids have smartphones? Why is the average age a child receives a smartphone 10 years old? Why are kids spending hours and hours on screens and really missing out on being a kid? Concerned families are wondering what impact this ubiquitous device is having cognitively, emotionally and physically on children.
The media are tuning in too. Good Morning America recently featured a segment about the Wait Until 8th pledge, and Wait Until 8th was on NPR for almost an hour with a host from On Point and Harvard clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair. Dr. Steiner-Adair offered a huge endorsement of the Wait Until 8th pledge and outlined why parents should delay giving their kids smartphones.
Technology executives are raising red flags too. Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society. He said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. Also, Sean Parker a former Facebook president recently said, "God only knows what social media is doing to our children." Melinda Gates wrote a piece in the Washington Post about how she spent her career in technology and was not prepared for the effect it had on her children. She wished she would have waited longer before permitting phones and she even waited until her children were 14.
Many parents are listening and saying yes to delaying the smartphone. More than 6,000 families from all 50 states have signed the Wait Until 8th pledge. There is strength in numbers. Active pledges are moving across the nation. An active pledge is when 10 or more parents from the same grade and school sign the Wait Until 8th pledge. We designed the pledge with community in mind. This path of waiting is easier to take with friends by your side. You don't have to fear "what if I am the only parent that signs this in my kid's grade." This takes the pressure off because the pledge only kicks in once at least 10 families sign from your grade.
Congrats to the many schools with recent active pledges including Tuscan Elementary in New Jersey, Nativity Parish School in Kansas, Colonial Elementary in New York, the Children's Day School in San Francisco, St. Agnes Catholic School in Kansas, Carlisle Public School in Massachusetts, Casis Elementary in Texas, and the Saint Bridget School in Virginia!
You too can champion change at your school. Be an advocate for your child. Rally your community. It all starts with one pledge. Sign today at www.waituntil8th.org .