Paris Hilton will not let her children have smartphones: ‘Some kids are getting phones way too young'

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The movement of parents concerned by their kids' smartphone use just gained an unlikely disciple: socialite and DJ Paris Hilton.

At the Wall Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival, the self-proclaimed inventor of the selfie said she plans to be a "strict" parent and doesn't want her kids, ages 1 and 6-months, on social media.

"I'm going to try to not have them have a phone for a while," Hilton, 43, said, according to a clip obtained by Entertainment Tonight. "Some of these kids are just getting phones at way too young of an age, and there are just so many things online that I wouldn't even want my children to be exposed to."

Hilton isn't alone in thinking smartphones can cause damage to young kids.

In his new book "The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness," author Johnathan Haidt makes the argument that constant access to social media has led to a mental illness epidemic among Gen Z.

Zach Rausch, lead researcher to Haidt and an associate research scientist at NYU-Stern School of Business, says kids who had access to social media and iPhones in elementary and middle school report higher levels of anxiety and depression.

"The biggest effects of social media happened during puberty, especially early puberty," he says. "Ages 9 to 15 is where the most significant harm seems to be the clearest."

To curb bullying, social comparison, and depression in adolescents, Haidt and Rausch crafted four suggestions:

  1. No smartphones for kids before high school — give them only flip phones in middle school.
  2. No social media before age 16.
  3. Make schools phone-free.
  4. Give kids far more free play and independence, including more and better recess.

"There's no clear evidence that giving children access to social media early is better able to prepare them for adulthood later on," Rausch says. "All we've seen is that these products are generally harmful."

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