In February, he formed the nonprofit PAUS (Parents Against Underage Smartphones) with a few other medical professionals and began drafting a ballot initiative that, if passed, would make Colorado the first state in the nation to establish legal limits on smartphones sales to children.
If the store continues to sell smartphones to children under 13-years old, the store will be fined anywhere from $500 to $20,000. The adverse effects are also known as "electronic cocaine" and "digital heroin" because it can trigger an unhealthy high, similar to that of drug addicts. Last month, PAUS got the go-ahead on its proposed ballot language from the Secretary of State and now can start work on gathering the almost 300,000 signatures required to get on the ballot in November 2018.
"Initiative 29 prohibits retailers from selling or permitting the sale of a smartphone to a person under the age of 13, of the 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.
"The idea was 'let's just stop to consider what we're doing and let's take a moment and think about how much tech our kids really need, and how can we optimize what's best for their development, '" Farnum told The Durango Herald. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, told the Coloradan.
Farnum told The Washington Post that he expected pushback like Kefalas, but he sees the danger of early smartphone use akin to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or watching pornography. "This is no different, in my opinion". Colorado does not accept digital petition signatures, so Farnum and his group will have to collect support the old-fashioned way. "I think ultimately, this comes down to parents. making sure their kids are not putting themselves at risk".
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Farnum, the father of five children ages 19 to 11, views children constantly on smartphones as addiction to an electric pacifier.
"Frankly, I think it should remain a family matter", he said.
Farnum's proposal is still a long ways off from becoming reality.
Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for children's media use, including smartphones. Kids 6 and older should have consistent time limits on screen time to make sure it isn't taking time away from sleep or physical activity.