Group wants to ban sale of cell phones for kids under 13

DENVER -- A group has started a  grass-roots effort to stop the sale of smartphones for use by children younger than 13 years old in Colorado.

Parents Against Underage Smartphones is collecting signatures to get Initiative 29 on the 2018 ballot in the state.

Colorado officials have cleared the language of the proposed ballot measure, the Associated Press reported Sunday. Supporters need about 300,000 signatures.

"Initiative 29 prohibits retailers from selling or permitting the sale of a smartphone to a person under the age of 13, or to any person who indicates that the smartphone will be wholly or partially owned by a person under the age of 13," the proposal states.

"Retailers must verbally inquire about the age of the intended primary owner of the smartphone prior to the sale, document the response, and file a monthly report to the Department of Revenue."

Retailers who sell a smartphone for use by a preteen would get a warning for the first offense but could be fined from $500 to $20,000 for subsequent violations.

The founder of the group, Dr. Timothy Farnum, a board certified anesthesiologist, said earlier this month that once children get a smartphone, they change.

“They go from being outgoing, energetic, interested in the world and happy, to reclusive. They want to spend all their time in their room. They lose interest in outside activities." Farnum said.

“Eventually kids are going to get phones and join the world, and I think we all know that, but little children, there’s just no good that comes from that,” The Coloradoan quoted Farnum as saying.

Farnum said a toddler could experience speech and language difficulties after constantly looking at screens.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines for smartphone use by children: