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‘It went nuts’: Thousands join UK parents calling for smartphone-free childhood ‘It went nuts’: Thousands join UK parents calling for smartphone-free childhood

Local WhatsApp group started by two mothers concerned about online safety attracts more than 4,000 members

‘It went nuts’: Thousands join UK parents calling for smartphone-free childhood

More than 4,000 parents have joined a group committed to barring young children from having smartphones, as concerns grow about online safety and the impact of social media on mental health.

The WhatsApp group Smartphone Free Childhood was created by the former school friends Clare Fernyhough and Daisy Greenwell in response to their fears around children’s smartphone use and the “norm” of giving children smart devices when they go to secondary school.

“I’ve got a seven- and nine-year-old. Daisy’s got kids of a similar age and we were both feeling really horrified and worried and just didn’t want them to have smartphones at 11, which seems to be the norm now.”

Fernyhough and Greenwell hoped the movement would embolden parents to delay giving their children smartphones until at least 14, with no social media access until 16.

But what they expected to be a small group of friends who help “empower each other” has turned into a nationwide campaign after the group reached the 1,000-person capacity within 24 hours of Greenwell uploading an Instagram post to promote it.


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  • This apparently "spontaneous" group of "ordinary mothers" looks surprisingly media-trained. I'd be interested in knowing more about the founders. When the "keep our schools open during covid" group were examined they turned out to be a puppet of a right-wing thinktank.

    • Given the surname of one of them, we are, presumably, distant cousins. So I'll ask if we ever cross paths.

      However, if it is astroturfing, I can't quite see the agenda being promoted here or, strictly speaking, who'd gain from this unless it's part of the lobbying done for the porn ID bill (as a lobbyist friend of mine claims to have been involved, there was cash being thrown around to make that happen).

      • You could be right. I listened to a Tory minister on the radio today talking about ending anonymity on the internet and - more interestingly - about silo-ing parts of the internet so that certain groups, such as children, could only access certain "versions" of the internet. I wonder whether that's the longer-term agenda.

        • Things the Tories love doing:

          • Giving money and favours to their rich chums
          • Quelling descent, often about the above

          You could see walling off parts of the Internet and cracking down on end-to-end encryption as being pieces in the same jigsaw. Once they have all the technology in place it would just need a concocted threat (Just Stop Oil organising their "terrorist outrages" online) for them to push it a bit further. Until, by increments, our Internet looks awfully like Chinas.