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Parents pledge to ban children from using social media until eighth grade

Parents are pledging to ban children from using social media until the eighth grade.

In an interview with NBC News, a mother from Indiana named Emily Meyer spoke about the “Wait until 8th” movement, saying that she’s pledging to only allow her children to have phones when they reach the age of 13. Meyer said that she and her husband had already agreed to wait for their own family to give their children phones.

“We have made kids grow up in this society way too fast,” the mother of three said.

“Strength in numbers, right? If my kid comes home and says: ‘I’m the only one without a phone,’ and may feel left out, that’s hard to deal with,” Meyer continued. “It just helps things for everybody involved.”

She explained that she and other parents keep their children away from smartphones so that they don’t have to deal with the consequences of social media. “Do I think they need to learn how to use these things properly in a timely manner? Yes,” she added. “But my sixth-grader is not at that point where he can navigate that stuff yet.”

A mother from Texas, Brooke Shannon, founded the movement more than five years ago. Since then, more than 50,000 families nationwide have joined the viral pledge. According to Meyer, half of the families at their child’s school have signed the petition. They’ve also gone out of their way to teach families and students at the school how to safely use technology.

On the website, their mission statement reads: “Parents feel powerless in this uphill battle and need community support to help delay the ever-evolving presence of the smartphone in the classroom, social arena and family dinner table. Link arms with other parents to wait until at least the end of eighth grade for a smartphone!”

The movement stresses that by limiting smartphone use, parents can limit their exposure to social media and delay the consequences of being online at a young age. These parents aren’t the only ones concerned. The US Surgeon General released an advisory that included data showing how social media affects the mental health of children and teenagers. The latter reportedly double their risk of depression and anxiety if they spend at least three hours on social media daily.

Despite these growing concerns about underage social media use, according to the Pew Research Center, teenagers in particular are using social media now more than ever. Researchers report that teenage reliance on these platforms is reportedly “almost constant”.