Caring for Kids…at Billings Clinic

Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age

You may have noticed that your family throughout the day is constantly on their smartphones. It may seem harmless, but smartphones have become the new addiction for many families across the nation. This issue has caught the attention of many researchers, journalists, & film makers.

Recently, the documentary Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age premiered three free shows in Billings.  The film was also shown at six local schools across Yellowstone County with 978 people attending in total. This film is a call to action, with the goal of  helping families start the conversation about screen time and the harmful effects it has within the family.

Panel discussions were held each evening with local experts.  Dr. Claire Kenamore, pediatrician at Billings Clinic, was featured at the February 1 showing and she noted one way to empower parents is to take the “Wait until 8th” pledge and join with other families willing to delay smartphones until the 8th grade.

Dr. Kenamore writes:

“Kids are bullied, sexualized and taken away from traditional socializing and physical activity  because of their phones. I see these kids in my practice every day!

When kids are bullied, they don’t put down the phone, and who can blame them? They stay  online to see who else has witnessed their shaming… making things worse.

Other kids have a hard time not feeling marginalized when they see posts of other people  having fun together.

Easing in to smart phone ownership makes a lot of sense. Middle school kids can learn about  social media sites at home with their parents before being given free. They can use a variety of  flip phones instead. Let’s face it, parents are pressured in to buying smart phones before they  want to because they don’t want to put their kids in the position of being left out.

This ingenious app helps groups of parents form a pact to wait until at least 8th grade to  introduce smart phones to their kids. Parents anonymously pledge to wait and once a critical  number of parents have signed on, then everyone is alerted and then the families know others  value delayed access to smartphones and can provide mutual support.”

As noted on the pledge site website (

By banding together, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone.

Take the pledge!





Claire Kenamore, MD

Dr. Claire Kenamore is a Billings Clinic pediatrician and advocate for healthy children in Montana.

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