CONCORD (CBS) – Concord, Massachusetts is the birthplace of the American Revolution. It’s also the first place in the nation to ban plastic water bottles. Now a local group is hoping to revolutionize parenting in the age of technology.
Most parents would prefer to see kids running around outside and playing with each other rather than have their faces buried in smart phones. But more often than not, the technology is winning and that worries a group of moms in Concord.
“Then we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could get a bunch of parents all to agree to delay purchasing a smartphone for their kids?” said Charlotte Witmore, mother of three young children.
Charlotte and two friends, Adrienne Principe and Alexa Anderson, came up with Concord Promise.
“If you sign up, if you become on our list of parent members, you are agreeing to delay purchasing as smartphone for your child until at least eighth grade,” Whitmore explained.
In less than a year, parents of 300 kids in Concord have now joined. It’s a program modeled after a national organization called Wait Until 8th, with one big difference, Wait Until 8th is anonymous, but Concord Promise is public.
When families sign onto the Concord Promise, their names are posted on the organization’s website. According to Anderson, the transparency helps to ease the social pressure her son was feeling around smartphones.
“You can go right on this website and see that your five best friends are not getting a cell phone either,” she recalled explaining to her son.
The website also helps to share information about the newest research surrounding the use of kids and smartphones. “Things like anxiety and depression. A lot of experts are linking that to time kids are spending on their phones,” Anderson said.
Adrienne Principe has shared a lot of that information with her sixth grader, Sophia, who has complained that a lot of her classmates already have phones. But after learning about the risks of getting a phone too early, she’s now ok with waiting. And she has seen how those phones can be a real distraction to her friends.
“I don’t see how you can do your homework while watching YouTube,” she said describing an afternoon with one of her friends.
Principe understands that technology is not going anywhere, but she believes there’s no benefit of giving kids access to social media.
“We need to teach our kids and give them the tools to be able to manage the technology instead of technology managing them,” she said.