A Colorado group is looking to curb the sales of cellphones to children under 13 years old and officials in the state have cleared the language for a proposed ballot measure.
Parents Against Underage Smartphones, the backers of the move, would now need about 300,000 voter signatures for the legislation to make the 2018 ballot.
The ban would require cellphone retailers to ask customers about the age of the primary user of a smartphone and submit monthly reports to the Colorado Department of Revenue on adhering to the requirement.
Retailers who sell a phone for use by a pre-teen would get a warning for the first offense, but may face fines from $ 500 to $ 20,000 for continued violations, according to KDVR-TV.
“Eventually kids are going to get phones and join the world, and I think we all know that, but little children, there’s just no good that comes from that,” Dr. Tim Farnum, who is leading the movement, told The Coloradoan on Saturday.
Farnum said he was inspired to make the push after watching his own kids struggle with the psychological effects of always having a device in hand.
“They would get the phone and lock themselves in their room and change who they were,” he said.
Democratic state Sen. John Kefalas said he understands the reasoning behind the proposed law. But he told the newspaper that it would overstep the government’s role.
“Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter,” he said. “Ultimately, this comes down to parents … making sure their kids are not putting themselves at risk.”
Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for children’s media use, including smartphones.
The doctors recommended restricting screen time to no more than an hour a day of high-quality programming until age 6, after which parents should set consistent time limits and make sure electronic devices don’t take time away from sleep or physical activity.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.