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The Parents Saying No to Smartphones (Today's Ray Of Hope)


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The Free Press

How you help them learn to be present, in a task or with a relationship, is one of the top challenges of our generation. Part of that is going to be saying no.’

Olivia Reingold

May 22, 2023

Every time one of his classmates gets a smartphone, Jhett Rogers thinks to himself: There goes another one

“It kind of feels like I’ve lost a friend. Whenever I’m with them, they’re zoned out and always on their phone.” 

But Rogers, a middle schooler in Salt Lake City, says he still can’t shake the desire to join the club. Six months ago, the only other holdout in his 30-strong group of friends got an iPhone.

“It kind of made me feel left out and jealous,” he says. “But later I don’t want one because I know what happens.”

(Snip)

In 2018, Lance Black, a Utah father of six, became a founder and investor in Gabb Wireless—a company making internet-free smartphones. The devices, which start at $150, are aimed at kids 5 to 15 and loaded only with the essentials: features for texting, calling, and a GPS tracker for parents. (Call them dumbphones.)

“It has a touchscreen, and you can call and text, so kids aren’t embarrassed to pull it out,” Black tells me, adding that it runs on an Android-based operating system.

Since Gabb launched in 2019, Black said the company has raised about $42 million in funding. While he won’t reveal specific sales, he said every year has significantly outpaced the previous year, adding, “We have hundreds of thousands of customers across the United States.”

(Snip)

This spring, Hernandez and her husband Troy Gordon, a 41-year-old accountant, plan to install controls on Helena’s iPhone that will expand or limit her use based on how much time she’s devoting to other, more creative activities like music and artwork. 

“In about three months from now, if we’ve gone ahead and done that, I think she will turn around and say, ‘You know what, I am much happier,’ ” her father, Gordon, says. “I think it will all end well.”

Then he pauses: “Maybe I’m deluded.

 

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