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  • Kyle Chua

UK Mom’s WhatsApp Campaign To Ban Smartphones for Children Under 14 Amasses Thousands of Followers

A growing number of parents across the U.K. are joining a campaign that discourages smartphone use among children.

Credit: Reuters

The campaign was accidentally started by a 40-year old mother named Daisy Greenwell, who shared concerns of her children's smartphone use with her friend Clare Fernyhough in a WhatsApp group. That group later amassed thousands of followers, reaching the WhatsApp maximum capacity within 24 hours, after an Instagram post promoting the two mothers' chat went viral. About 50 other WhatsApp groups across the U.K. sprung up to join the campaign.

"I wasn't intending to start a campaign at all," Mrs Greenwell told BBC. "It just went bananas."

The group and the campaign that it sparked was later dubbed as Smartphone Free Childhood. Mrs Greenwell said the campaign is meant discourage parents from giving their children a smartphone until the age of 14, with no social media access until 16 years old.

"There's scientific evidence that it's extremely damaging for developing brains," Mrs Greenwell, who's a mother of three children, noted. "The younger a child gets a mobile phone, the higher their rate of mental illness later on."

Daisy Greenwell. Credit: BBC

While she said that she doesn't want her children to feel "ostracised" by not having a smartphone, social influence has a big part to play.

"If you can get a class WhatsApp group to agree together to not get our kids a phone because they don't need one, then the problem is eliminated overnight because there's none of that peer pressure," she said.

Mrs Greenwell recognises the need to reach children outside of the home, but for that purpose, she recommends alternative products like phone models without internet and app access or location tracking devices like Apple's AirTag.

The support from the movement also pushed her to launch an online platform that provides parents and guardians the tools they need to speak to others about the issue, as well as advice on approaching schools to help introduce a smartphone-free environment.

  • A 40-year old mother in the U.K. accidentally started a campaign to discourage the use of smartphones among children under 14 years old.

  • What started out as a WhatsApp chat between the mother and her friend later amassed thousands of followers, reaching the messaging platform's group maximum capacity within 24 hours.

  • The support from the movement also pushed her to launch an online platform that provides parents and guardians the tools they need to speak to others about the issue.

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