University Hospitals psychologist says parents should resist urge to give their child a smartphone

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A University Hospitals child psychologist says that parents should beware of giving their child a smartphone before they are ready.

Dr. Felipe Amunategui says giving child a smartphone is like giving them a car before they are ready.

"The child will stumble upon content and have access to interactions with others that you may not want them to, and often times, as we see in kids with cyber bullying, when social media is used for harassment, it's a source of significant upset for children," said Amunategui.

Many parents say they feel pressure to give their child a smartphone so that they will not be left out of the loop socially.

Amunategui says a basic cellphone would be more appropriate - something that doesn't take pictures. Parents, he says, need to resist the urge to give in.

"Well, welcome to parenting. It is not a popularity contest," added Amunategui.

For those who still feel a bit weak, a new Facebook campaign designed to create solidarity among parents who want to say no to smartphones for their
kids is picking up traction. "Wait until eighth," encourages parents to band together and sign a pledge to wait until at least eighth-grade to give their children smartphones.

Many local parents have said they intend to take the pledge. Kevin Gorby is an Akron-area school teacher, coach and parent who says he insists on his kids only having access to a basic cellphone.

"I have great kids. I love my children. It's my job to make sure that they understand the damages that can occur and that are happening," said Gorby.

On the other end of the debate is Heather Zinn-Anderson, a mother of two teen-aged daughters in Green. Her daughters have smartphones. She says it is up to parents to monitor what their kids are doing.

"Even though some people take a pledge, and they can personally - hey I didn't get my kid a phone or have them - let them have access to the internet,
they have internet at friends' houses. They have phones their friends have. They are going to see a video one way or the other," said Zinn-Anderson.

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