Tech expert says setting smartphone limits, not banning them, is wiser approach for parents to take with kids

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- How young is too young to have the internet in your pocket? Colorado is playing with the idea to ban smartphone sales to anyone under 13.

It’s common for some parents to complain about kids always being on their phones, not paying attention, and not being physically active because of devices like a smartphone, but is outlawing them for "tweens" really the right move?

Well-intentioned, yes, but effective? Not necessarily, says tech expert Burton Kelso, when speaking about the proposed 'tweenager' smartphone ban in Colorado.

“I mean there`s no law that`s going to govern or that should govern how we allow our kids to utilize technology," said Kelso.

Colorado state Senator John Kefalas agrees saying in part, the issue should remain a "family matter."

Kelso, who`s also a father, says he's well aware of the concerns associated with tweens and tech.

“It can become addictive because a lot of the apps are designed to keep you addicted and keep you plugged in,” said Kelso.

Another concern is ever-changing apps meant for adults that somehow become popular with the under-aged, or even gaming apps that have chatting features.

“Parents don`t realize that there may be a chatting feature involved in these apps so that kids who are trying to chat with their friends may encounter a pedophile,” said Kelso.

Instead of banning smartphones, Kelso says parents should set time limits for devices, supervise their kids, and be made aware of all the dangers.

“There`s sort of a sweet spot to media and to social technology use,” said pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Mellick with Pediatric Partners P.A.

Dr. Mellick says there are some benefits in allowing kids to use technology, including smartphones.

"It`s been found in some research that kids that are engaged at an appropriate age can find connection with other people that they may not necessarily find in a school setting or a sports setting,” said Dr. Mellick.

She and Kelso agree that overuse can lead to negative impacts on a kid's mental and physical health. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents of children at 2-to-5 years limit screen use to one hour per day of "high quality" programs. For kids ages 6 and older, the academy recommends parents place consistent limits on media use and make sure that it doesn't interfere with things like sleep and exercise.

The academy says media usage isn't one-size fits all, that's why it has created a calculator that can help you figure out what's right for your kids. Click this link to use it.

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