When parents of Eanes ISD elementary school students began worrying about the growing number of children in their schools with smartphones last fall, some created Wait Until 8th. The educational tool and pledge urges parents to wait until the eighth grade before giving their child a smartphone.
“For a while it seemed like students were getting smartphones in the fifth grade, and it has been trickling down to first and second grade children too,” Wait Until 8th spokesperson Brooke Shannon said. “As a group we decided that we want to wait until a certain age to introduce this technology to our children.”
She said the group’s main concern is children will begin spending too much time on their devices.
“It’s about losing the precious years they have as kids,” Shannon said. “If a child is spending six hours a day on their phones, they aren’t playing outside or interacting with their family.”
Smartphones can also distract students from schoolwork, lead to more exposure to cyberbullying and inappropriate websites, she said.
Since launching its official website, Waituntil8th.org, last November, over 2,300 families from 49 different states and seven countries have taken the pledge, Shannon said. A number of those families have students who attend Eanes, Lake Travis, Leander and Austin ISDs, she said.
Parents tend to feel pressured into purchasing a smartphone for a child, Shannon said. However, the pledge allows groups of local parents and children to wait until eighth grade together, she said.
Wait Until 8th encourages parents to purchase basic flip phones or wearable smartwatches that have call and text capabilities. These devices allow parents to stay in contact with their child without offering the distractions that smartphones can bring, Shannon said.