Zoe Foster Blake on why she refuses to give her kids a mobile phone.

Millennial parents are grappling with whether their tweens and teens should be given access to mobile phones amidst a growing movement advocating for a ban on social media for children until they reach the age of 16. 

Initiated by radio personality Michael 'Wippa' Wipfli and Rob Galluzzo, the founder of production company FINCH, the "36 Months" movement seeks to alter legislation, raising the minimum age for social media participation from 13 to 16.

Watch: Ask Mia Anything | Children On Social Media. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Through their connections, the two have successfully gathered support from prominent figures across entertainment, education, and politics, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese himself endorsing the campaign. 

"What we want is our youngest Australians spending more time outside playing sport, engaging with each other in a normal way and less time online," the PM told Nova FM on Tuesday. 


"And one way to do that is through restrictions on social media."

The newest advocate to back the campaign is Zoe Foster Blake, the founder of skincare brand, Go-To, and a mother-of-two. 

Blake posted a picture of her younger self to Instagram, sharing her reasons for keeping her nine-year-old son, Sonny, and six-year-old daughter, Rudy, away from social media.

"If I had a smartphone and social media when these photos were taken, my brain chatter would’ve been very different to: We’re gonna miss the bus/will Supre still have those flares I want/can Wayne’s World be as funny the third time? (Yes)," she wrote.

"Research indicates they wouldn’t have been positive. Adolescence exacerbates girls’ comparison bias, self-consciousness about their changing body, and amplifies insecurities about where they fit in socially. Social media pours petrol all over this."


Even though social media now plays a significant role in her life and has been instrumental in her success, Blake expressed gratitude for having grown up in an era when social media platforms didn't exist.

"I’m thankful I had no Instagram or TikTok or even a front-facing camera as a teen. Smartphones and social media are — surprise! — proven to be the cause of the skyrocketing rates of adolescent mood disorders like anxiety and depression, especially for girls," she said. 

She gave a shout out to Jonathan Haidt, an American social psychologist and author of The Anxious Generation, who argues that mental health challenges in the newer generation stem directly from smartphone usage and excessive social media engagement.

Yet, while eager to shift the attitude surrounding smartphones and social media, Blake recognises that it's a task that will require a broader cultural shift. 

"My kids are sub-teen but the work starts now. Some of their friends have phones; some are already on TikTok. I feel optimistic that if we band together, we can begin to change the, 'But everyone else has one/is doing it' mentality that causes teens so much angst," she said. 

Blake then urged her followers to sign the 36 Months petition before reflecting on the impact social media has had on her own life. 

"I’ve benefitted tremendously from social media, from my early YouTube days to Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. It brings connection, has permitted me to foster a beautiful community, and allows me to talk about my books, skincare and cats," she said.

"But I didn’t get into ANY of that til I was in my twenties. My brain was fully formed. I could distinguish between real life and online life. I had life experience and self-worth. That’s not to say witchy comments don’t rattle me, and I don’t get anxiety or FOMO or feel helpless when I see what’s going on in the world. 

"But I’m a grown-up. I have grown-up tools to work through it. Teens don’t. Let’s give them and their developing brains a chance."


Her post received a flood of support from fellow parents, many of whom have either chosen not to provide their children with a mobile phone or are still contending with the decision.

"This post makes me so happy. Thank you for sharing and speaking up. It makes it so much easier to keep boundaries and restrictions in place when you know you're not the only one," wrote one user.

"Yes! Totally on board for banding together on this," said another.

According to Raising Children Network, social media has been directly associated with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, and even suicide among teenagers.

In a study conducted by the University of Sydney, Australians aged 14 and above spend an average of six hours per week on social media apps, with those between the ages of 12 and 13 using an average of three apps.

Through a two-stage approach, 36 Months aims to create a safer online environment for children and teenagers. The initial stage involves advocating for a federal policy change to safeguard the developmental journey of adolescents.

The second stage entails providing support to families and educators, enabling them to establish better connections with teenagers.

"We’re raising an anxious generation. We want our kids to discover themselves before the world discovers them," said Wipfli in a statement. 

Feature Image: Instagram @zotheysay.

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