by Dini S
Many of us give our children more access to technology and smart devices than we want to. At some point, our resolve is weakened and we agree to their requests. We say yes when our brains are screaming at us to say no. Or we have already silenced any logical thoughts about the dangers of all this technology use because we feel that it’s a fight too big for us to win. The peer pressure is too strong for our children to withstand, and the pushback we get from our children is not worth the stress, and anyways they’re bored so….
A grassroots organization called M.U.S.T. – Mothers United to Stall Technology – has arrived in Crown Heights to address this issue. M.U.S.T. wants mothers to empower each other by getting together to make class-wide pacts to stall the age at which children get their own personal “smart” devices (meaning devices connected to the Internet).
Notice that the “S” in M.U.S.T. is for “stall”, not “stop”. The founders of M.U.S.T. think it’s unrealistic to expect children to never get their own smart devices; rather, they want to stall the process for as long as possible. It’s a decidedly pragmatic approach; when school bans on devices have failed, mothers in twenty-five schools in the US and Canada have succeeded. In one pre-1A class where the mothers made a M.U.S.T. pact, by fourth grade that class was still device-free. In a sixth grade class where the mothers made the pact to stall on getting their kids devices in second grade, 22 out of the 24 kids are still device-free. Now in Crown Heights we have the opportunity together to successfully make changes too!
One might ask, “Why prolong the inevitable?” Crown Heights’ own Dr. Rosen says that he has seen a dramatic uptick in cases of anxiety and mental distress in terms of office visit volume. He traces this community-wide decline in mental health back to smartphone use, including the pressures of social media and exposure to explicit content. When it comes to children, more time online means less time spent in physical activity, real-life socialization, and play – significant strikes against mental well-being.
With M.U.S.T. we can delay their access to the pressures and potential damaging effects of the Internet until they are more mature.
This coming Tuesday, June 1st, M.U.S.T. Crown Heights will be having a community-wide event at 8:15 pm at the Jewish Children’s Museum. Please join us as we tackle this issue together for our children’s sake, so that they can grow up healthier!