Father calls for smartphone sales to be banned for under 13s

One man says his young sons' behaviour urged him to do something

Father calls for smartphone sales to be banned for under 13s

Generic stock photo of a child using an Apple iPhone smartphone | Image: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images

One man in the US is calling for sales of smartphones to be banned to children under the age of 13.

Dr Timothy J Farnum, from Colorado, is petitioning to bring a bill to the state legislature which would enforce the move.

He says his young sons' addictive behaviour urged him to do something.

"One of my sons, I took it away, and it was a pretty dramatic, very violent outburst," Dr Farnum told CNN.

"He was very addicted to this little machine. It kind of scared me, and that's really how it started."

The initiative would prohibit retailers from selling or permitting the sale of a smartphone to a person under the age of 13.

It would also not allow any person who indicates that the smartphone will be wholly or partially owned by a person under the age of 13 from buying a smartphone.

If passed, it could come into effect from January 1st 2019.

It would require retailers to verbally ask about the age of the intended primary owner prior to the sale, document the response, and file a monthly report to the US Department of Revenue that lists the type of phone sold and the age of the primary owner.

A smartphone, which the measure distinguishes from a mobile phone, means a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, or a handheld device with mobile internet connectivity.

Under the measure, the US Department of Revenue would create a website for the monthly reports, investigate violations, and collect fees and penalties.

The monthly filing fee would be US$20 (€17.93) from January through December.

Irish bill

According to 2016 figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), mobiles or smartphones were used to access the internet by 83% of individuals in Ireland.

Some 96% of people in the 16-29 years age group used a mobile phone or smartphone to access the internet - while 50% of individuals in the 60-74 age category used this type of device.

Figures for those aged under 16 were not available.

A similar bill was proposed here last month by Fine Gael's Jim Daly.

The Internet Access for Minors Bill 2017 would make it illegal for Irish retailers to sell a mobile phone with internet access to minors under the age of 14.

Attempts were made to contact Mr Daly at time of publication.