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Freedom Of Speech Or Restriction Of Choice?

June 27, 2017
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

I happened across this story out of a news source in Colorado over the weekend, and as I read it, I?began to wonder just where our society is headed. Read it and make your own judgements.

A group has started a grass-roots effort to stop the sale of smartphones for use by children younger than 13-years old in Colorado.

Parents Against Underage Smartphones is collecting signatures to get Initiative 29 on the 2018 ballot in the state.

Colorado officials have cleared the language of the proposed ballot measure, according to the Associated Press. Supporters need about 300,000 signatures to get the initiative on the general election ballot for 2018.

"Initiative 29 prohibits retailers from selling or permitting the sale of a smartphone to a person under the age of 13, or to any person who indicates that the smartphone will be wholly or partially owned by a person under the age of 13," the proposal states.

"Retailers must verbally inquire about the age of the intended primary owner of the smartphone prior to the sale, document the response, and file a monthly report to the Department of Revenue."

Retailers who sell a smartphone for use by a preteen would get a warning for the first offense but could be fined from $500 to $20,000 for subsequent violations.

The founder of the group, Dr. Timothy Farnum, a board certified anesthesiologist, said earlier this month that once children get a smartphone, they change.

"They go from being outgoing, energetic, interested in the world and happy, to reclusive. They want to spend all their time in their room. They lose interest in outside activities." Farnum said. Farnum claims a toddler could experience speech and language difficulties after constantly looking at screens.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines for smartphone use by children:

For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video chatting.

Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.

For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.

For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.

Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.

Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

I can understand guidelines, but I see an effort to curtail free trade, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and most of all, the ability of parents to be parents in all this.

My question is this - What next?



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