Letter to the editor: Sorry, Grace — we should ban smartphones for kids under 16

Have something to say? Lookout welcomes letters to the editor, within our policies, from readers. Guidelines here.

To the editor:

Having a flip phone is a great idea for a 10-year old. But smartphones with access to the internet are toxic and addictive.

I teach this topic at UC Santa Cruz and have read reams of research showing a strong connection between the use of social media and the epidemic of mental health issues that is affecting adolescents. I have seen a marked decline in the emotional health of my students over the previous 10 years as smartphone use has become pervasive. Many of them have commented that if it was their choice, their 10-year-old sister or brother would not have a smartphone.

The arguments that Grace makes in her letter would all be satisfied with a flip phone. The problem is, of course, that any middle school kid without a smartphone becomes a pariah with no access to a social life. Which is why I advocate for a ban on smartphones before the age of 16.

Teenagers can’t buy cigarettes or alcohol. Why should they be able to buy an equally destructive (and expensive) piece of technology?

Steve Coulter
Bonny Doon