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Will calls to ban smartphones for children be answered?

A new poll suggests that most parents want smartphones to be banned amongst children. Could it happen?

Are our beloved smartphones addictive?

I think we all know that the answer is yes, but a large proportion of people are now going as far as labelling them ‘electronic drugs’ which young people are particularly vulnerable to.

With so many children growing up with these devices in their pockets – and a sharp rise in mental health struggles emerging in tandem – organisations are campaigning to raise the age at which children are legally allowed to own them.

While whispers of imposing these kinds of laws are often seen as a breach of people’s individual freedoms, a survey conducted across England has shown overwhelming support in favour of some form of restrictive legislation.

Led by the charity Parentkind, a nationwide poll revealed that 58 percent of parents wish to see a government-imposed ban on smartphone ownership for children below the age of sixteen.

Even further, 83 percent of parents said they believe smartphones are ‘harmful’ to children and young people. A similar proportion worried about the bullying, abuse, and harmful content their children could be exposed to online.

The survey, which involved 2,496 parents who had children currently in school, is now garnering attention across the country. It could see the notion of a ban being considered by officials.

The chief executive of Parentkind, Jason Elsom, said, ‘Society has sleepwalked into a position where children are addicted to harmful ‘electronic drugs’ and have no escape from their digital dealers.’

‘We are starting to understand the harms of social media and the unrestricted gateway smartphones provide to vile online content but it seems parents already get it.’

Not only are symptoms of poor mental health on the rise amongst young people, but children are also being presented with polarising and misogynistic content during their formative years.

Exposure to these narratives has profound implications for the future of society, despite social media sites claiming they have deployed age-restricted content limitations.

Campaigners for children’s rights point out that these platforms are inherently flawed in their design. Algorithms continue to push inappropriate content to younger audiences, while also failing in flagging and removing hateful comments.

As a result, officials have encouraged limiting young people’s screen time during school hours, at the very least.


Back in February, schools in England were advised by governments to disallow the use of mobile phones throughout the day.

This advice was not written into law, but was merely a measure to create distance between young people and their devices.

Though government officials recognise the immense ‘educational and social benefits’ that stem from modern technology, it is evident that it can come at the expense of keeping young people out of harm’s way.

We’ll have to wait and see if the government’s advice is written into official law, but it’s clear that most parents will welcome it if so.