Speed Reads

Strange Bedfellows

Fox News' Tucker Carlson pushes a federal smartphone ban for kids. The Daily Show suggests a lighter touch.

Smartphones are terrible — present company excluded, of course — and addictive, and studies are showing that those little screens in our pockets are detrimental to our mental and physical wellbeing. This is especially true for children and teenagers. "Smartphones have made our kids dumber — it's measurable," Tucker Carlson said on his Fox News show Thursday night. "But they've also made our kids much less happy." Suicide rates and mental illness in teens "began to surge right around 2012," he added, "just as smartphones and social media became universal."

"Smartphone use makes your kids sadder, slower, and more isolated and, over time, can kill them," though if you've never tried "taking an iPhone away from a seventh-grader ... it's like trying to get a junkie into rehab," Carlson said. But he had a solution: "Parents need help, and there is no reason that the Congress, which made smartphones possible in the first place, shouldn't be part of the solution. So here's an idea: Ban smartphone use for children, pass a federal law tomorrow."

Comedian Neal Brennan agreed with Carlson about the awfulness of smartphones on Thursday's Daily Show. And like the generally anti-regulation, small-government Carlson, Brennan's solution relied on legislation. Unlike Carlson, he wasn't serious, probably. "I got my inspiration from another problem: guns," he said. "There are a bunch of great gun control ideas that we're never gonna use. That's when it hit me: What America needs is common-sense phone control."

"Our phones are just like guns: You think it's a good idea to have one, but statistically you're more likely to use it to hurt yourself," Brennan said, and he laid out phone-specific waiting periods, mental-health checks, and background checks. But like that seventh-grader, Brennan did not react well when Trevor Noah suggested he give up his phone first. "Typical liberal," Brennan said. "Trevor, you'll get my phone when you pry it from my cold, dead hands." Peter Weber