Parents in Europe unite to say no to smartphones for young kids

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Try saying “no” when a child asks for a smartphone. What comes after, parents everywhere can attest, begins with some variation of: “Everyone has one. Why can’t I?”

But what if no pre-teen in sight has one — and what if having a smartphone was weird? That’s the endgame of an increasing number of parents across Europe who are concerned by evidence that smartphone use among young kids jeopardizes their safety and mental health — and share the conviction that there’s strength in numbers.

From Spain to Britain and Ireland, parents are flooding WhatsApp and Telegram groups with plans not just to keep smartphones out of schools, but to link arms and refuse to buy young kids the devices before — or even into — their teenage years.

After being inspired by a conversation in a Barcelona park with other moms, Elisabet García Permanyer started a chat group last fall to share information on the perils of Internet access for children with families at her kids’ school.

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Kellman reported from London.