Kids & Family

20,000 Pledge Not to Give Kids Smartphones Until 8th Grade

Parents in all 50 states sign pledge created by a Texas mom

My son is 19, but I remember clearly the wheedling and begging when, as a 9-year old elementary school student, he wanted a cell phone. "Mom, everyone else has one!" he would complain. Eventually in 6th grade, my husband and I did give him a simple cell phone, but with strict rules about where, when and how he could use it.

I wish something like Wait Until 8th was around back then, and I definitely see the need for it now that cell phones have become ubiquitous. Brooke Shannon, a mom from Austin, Texas also saw the need. She founded Wait Unit 8th, where the main element is a pledge the parents sign, empowering them to join with other parents in delaying giving children a smart phone until at least 8th grade. The group just reached their 20,000th pledge-signer.

Childhood is too short to waste on a smartphone is the organization's tag line.

"Instead of playing with friends, hanging out with family, enjoying a good book they're spending hours and hours Instagramming, Youtubing, Snapchatting and really missing out on key elements of childhood," Shannon told CBS station KVUE.

Even after you sign it, the pledge doesn't officially take effect until at least 10 families from your child's grade and school make the pledge. "It's easier to say that your friend is joining this pledge with you instead of mom saying we're going to be doing this on our own," said mother of four, Cathy York, who signed the pledge.

"All of us know we don't want our children to have a phone, but no one wants to be the first person who says it," Courtney Moss, mother of 3

You can take the pledge even if you think your child needs a basic phone that just calls and texts. "It's what the organization describes as the "distractions and dangers" of smartphones that Wait Until 8th wants to help families avoid.

In addition to the pledge, the organization's website has a wealth of information about why delaying cellphones is crucial to a child's health and development -- from removing academic distractions and preventing sleep problems, to protecting children from becoming victims of cyber bullying or exposed to sexual content.

I had already seen the negative effects academic and socially," on my two sons, said mom Erin Breitenbach. "I was incredibly grateful to learn that other parents were thinking in that direction."

To take the pledge, click here .

The group on The Today Show. That's Cathy & Brooke, front left & middle, and Erin, rear middle.

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