"There is ample evidence to demonstrate the negative effects of phone time on older children, particularly on those using them for more than three hours a day; these include structural and functional brain imaging changes, increases in emotional distress and higher rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as lack of sleep.” -Child & adolescent psychiatrist Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg

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Our campaign

A growing body of evidence suggests that smartphones have become not just distracting but addictive, corrosive of mental health and pose potentially serious dangers for children.

With such limited options for parents to protect their children from devices and content that can cause serious mental and physical harm, we believe as a society we can and must demand better for our children.

That is why we are calling for a tobacco-style regulatory framework for smartphones that places a duty on manufacturers, suppliers and content providers to prove the safety of their products and services in the hands of children, pending which those products and services must be restricted for children.

Read more about our proposals.

Childhood mental illness diagnoses have increased dramatically over the last decade. Data from the US and UK indicates this mental health crisis materially accelerated from roughly 2012 onwards. In that same year, smartphone use in the US exceeded 50% of the population for the first time.
There is strong evidence that smartphone use is associated with negative psychiatric, cognitive, emotional, developmental and neurological impacts in children and teenagers, and has been linked to a range of debilitating conditions from diabetes, to sleep disorders, to Tourettes.
Widespread use of smartphones among children and teens has been normalised, and is increasing. A 2022 Ofcom report shows that 91% of UK children aged 11 own a phone, almost all of which were smartphones. On average, those children spend three hours and 20 minutes of each day on their devices.


Yet harms now associated with excessive smartphone use among children and young people are serious, can be long-lasting, and in some cases have been life-threatening.


Our supporters

The campaign has been backed by prominent educationalists and experts, including head teacher Katharine Birbalsingh and psychologist Jonathan Haidt.
Katharine Birbalsingh
Founder and head teacher of Michaela Community School
Marcantonia Spada
Chartered Psychologist, Professor of Addictive Behaviours and Mental Health, and Dean of the School of Applied Sciences at London South Bank University
Jonathan Haidt
Social Psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business
Dr Ellie Cannon
Will Orr-Ewing
Educationalist / Schools Advisor
Dr Mark Williams
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
Dr Elizabeth Englander
Executive Director & Professor of Psychology, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center and Founding Member, Social & Emotional Research Consortium, Bridgewater State Uni
Jonathan Porter
Former Deputy Head at Michaela Free School
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