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, "The 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. "
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 good questions. Why do so many young children have smartphones? Should I give my kid a smartphone? Why are kids spending many hours on screens and really missing out on being a kid? What impact does this device have on our children?
The media are tuning in too. The Wait Until 8th pledge was recently featured on Good Morning America as well as NPR's On Point and All Things Considered. In the interview with NPR, Harvard clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair offered a strong endorsement of the pledge and outlined why parents should delay giving their kids smartphones.
Technology executives also are raising red flags. Former 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. He said his kids get "no screen time whatsoever." Also, Sean Parker, Facebook's founding 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 delayed giving her children smartphones until 14 and wished she would have waited longer.
More than 6,000 families from all 50 states have signed the Wait Until 8th pledge, leading to a surge in "active pledge" celebrations. This exciting status is achieved when 10 or more parents from the same grade at the same school have signed the pledge. These communities are experiencing hope, encouragement, and power by banding together on this issue. The pressure is off because they no longer have to fear "What if we are the only ones who hold out?"
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 .