This article by Adrienne Principe is shared with permission and originally appeared on gabbwireless.com.
I first became a parent back in 2006, and, boy, I sure was naive about how hard parenting was going to be. And that was before Steve Jobs released the first iPhone. I was lucky. I had real, live friends to distract me, console me, and offer me advice. I saw them regularly. In. Real. Life. We talked about first foods and first steps and poop. We laughed together. A lot.
As our kids have grown from tiny babies to busy toddlers, through preschool and elementary school into middle school, we need support more than ever. We need a way to come together. Because now, the stakes are much higher. In this new digital world, our conversations are about online homework, FOMO, screen addiction, and internet porn.
Screens are touching every aspect of our kids’ lives, from their relationships to their education. If we want to slow down the train to give our kids the type of childhood that values face-to-face connection, empathy, resilience, a love of self, and appreciation of nature, we have to come together to change our trajectory. We have to create societal norms that support these values. Norms that encourage and support screen-free interactions and experiences, as well as healthy use of technology. When it comes to creating meaningful change, a coalition of parents is more effective than a single voice. That’s why I launched Turning Life On.
Our kids have an innate desire to communicate with each other, and we should encourage this. At the same time, we know that giving them smartphones provides unrestricted access to the internet, social media, and gaming. It’s the equivalent of dropping them off in downtown Las Vegas.
Sexual predators are reaching out to kids at alarming rates, porn is distorting their understanding of sexual intimacy, TikTokers and social media influencers have become their role models and are shaping their identities. Our children don’t have to visit a casino, they have mini slot machines right in their pockets.
As kids enter middle school and high school, they are forming their own identities and preparing to leave the nest. They try on different personas. They spread their wings to fly. They prefer their friends. It’s a natural process of development. A process that hasn’t changed much in generations.
Giving our kids smartphones provides unrestricted access to the internet, social media, and gaming – it’s the equivalent of dropping them off in downtown Las Vegas.
When we went through this process, we tested different identities in the safety of our community — not in the permanent, online world. There was no risk of sexual predators. We spent countless hours on the phone with our friends: the cord stretched down the hall, around the corner, and into our rooms. (Remember call waiting? That was OUR godsend.)
Today, the Gabb phone is our KIDS’ modern-day godsend. It gives them the freedom to safely explore their physical world while maintaining a lifeline to home and family. It gives them access to their friends so they can build relationships, have fun, and be silly. It keeps them safe from the dangers of online porn, the addictive nature of social media and gaming, and the endless stream of inappropriate content. Delaying smartphones gives kids time to develop the skills necessary to manage the demands and distractions of the digital world.
We can do our best to protect them by not giving them a smartphone, but it’s important to recognize they don’t want to be too different from their friends and they’re still going to be impacted by their friends’ phones. That’s why we need to band together and share the Gabb solution!
We need more parents and more kids to subscribe to the Gabb-phone culture. The more kids have Gabb phones, the more their friends will want them, too. And the fewer kids with smartphones means less access to the internet, social media, and gaming — FOR ALL KIDS!
Children deserve to create cherished, childhood memories made in real life, with real people, who love them. So get some friends together, share the Gabb solution, and join the movement!