📆 July 4, 2022 | ⏱️ 4 minute read | 🏷️ computing

[Website] Wait Until 8th


Wait Until 8th is a cause to empower parents to keep their children off smartphones until 8th grade. It’s been promoted by multiple major news outlets. I agree with what I’ve read so far on their blog page. They have some really good points and I recommend for anyone interested to go read it. Overall the cause seems well intended and I think we need more causes pushing to keep screens out of kids’ hands.

Children are probably the most important demographic to keep off of smartphones, but we cannot lose sight of the larger goal of eliminating social pressure to use smartphones for people of all ages. Until there are non-addictive smartphones that fully respect their users’ freedom and privacy, using one mustn’t be a de facto requirement for maintaining employment, getting an education, or participating in society. I won’t fault them for narrowing focus to children though. It’s probably a good strategy.

With the paranoia today’s overprotective parents would likely have over not being able to reach their children every moment of the day, it may be a smart compromise for Wait Until Eighth to promote basic phones. Although basic phones have far less surveillance capabilities than smartphones, they still allow cell companies to track people’s whereabouts. If I had a child, I probably wouldn’t get them a basic phone, but I understand why basic phones are promoted on the website. Without such compromises, Wait Until 8th’s message would probably be less far-reaching.


No Mention of Free Software

What I will criticize Wait Until 8th for is their failure to mention software freedom. The app safety page links to resources that go into detail about the harms of specific apps, but those resources only mention the harms caused by the way the apps are used. They make no mention of the harms the developers of the apps inflict upon the users, i.e., the surveillance the apps perform and the user freedoms they violate.

The playbooks for parents on how particular apps harm children miss the point. Imagine finding detailed playbooks about how different cigarette brands can harm children. That would be absurd. Children shouldn’t have cigarettes at all. It’s no different with proprietary apps. All of them are so harmful and toxic and rotten by design that children shouldn’t be using any of them.

Promotion of Proprietary Apps

Parents should also disregard Wait Until 8th’s parental controls page. It explicitly promotes proprietary apps and services. TimeLimit is a free software parental control alternative for Android devices. It can limit children’s ability to download apps and the amount of time they’re allowed to use each app. Use that instead.

As for iPhones, no one should own them. Avoid everything Apple sells like the plague. The base Android operating system is free software. Apple’s mobile operating system iOS is proprietary and doesn’t respect the freedom or privacy of its users. Furthermore, Apple has a slavery problem. Don’t buy anything from Apple. Don’t use anything from Apple. And don’t let your children.

Wait Until 8th has multiple links on their parental controls page to protectyoungeyes.com. The Protect Young Eyes links explain how to set up parental control apps on various devices, but fail to point out that no one should own those devices in the first place. They all have severe privacy and freedom issues associated with them which aren’t even mentioned. Protect Young Eyes tacitly promotes these evil devices by the positive terms in which it describes them and also promotes the paid proprietary disservices the devices feature. These mistakes must be corrected.

Reaching Out

Despite my rather harsh criticism, all the other pages on Wait Until 8th seem fine. I firmly believe the people behind Wait Until 8th and Protect Young Eyes have good intentions. Free software is a neglected social issue and they’re probably just unaware of it.

I will be sending out emails to both Wait Until 8th and Protect Young Eyes linking to this journal entry with the hope that they will update their websites to at least acknowledge the problems with proprietary software, services, and devices before showing people how to use their parental control features. I also hope that Wait Until 8th will start promoting the free TimeLimit software over the Family Link spyware.

Fingers crossed.