Colorado considers ban on preteens owning cell phones, faces pushback

Thomas Phippen, DCNF

A campaign in Colorado seeks to stop kids under 13 years of age from spending too much time on smartphones by banning retailers from selling smartphones for use by children.

“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,” Tim Farnum, a Denver-area anesthesiologist told The Coloradoan.

Under a proposed law, cell phone retailers would be required to ask the age of the primary cell phone user before the sale, meaning that parents would not be allowed to buy smartphones for their 12-year-old children. If a retailer sells smartphones intended for children under 13, it would face a $500 fine after a warning.

Farnum founded Parents Against Underage Smartphones (PAUS), which is working on putting the cell phone ban on the ballot for the 2018 elections. The Colorado Secretary of State has approved the language, and now PAUS needs to collect at least 300,000 signatures in order to get the measure on the ballot.

Farnum said he was inspired to start the campaign after witnessing his children’s addiction to smartphones. “They would get the phone and lock themselves in their room and change who they were,” Farnum said.

The campaign faces a lot of pushback.

“Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,” Democratic state Sen. John Kefalas said. “Ultimately, this comes down to parents … making sure their kids are not putting themselves at risk.”

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