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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Devices with internet access are available to more children than ever before, but some parents are growing more cautious about their youngsters' relationship to certain technologies.

The bottom line: Smartphones and data plans have become affordable enough to open a world of information and opportunities for children in less-affluent families, while well-to-do elites are frequent participants in the burgeoning movement to limit or ban screens from younger kids' lives.

The lower-income trend:

  • Thanks to the rise of affordable smartphones, access to the internet is now available to a growing number of lower-income kids and teens. In addition to being more reliant on smartphones for schoolwork, these kids also spend about twice as much time per day watching television and online videos.
  • At the same time, children from lower-income families are less likely have access to extracurricular activities like sports or artistic activities, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, with similar trends among children whose parents aren’t college graduates.

The higher-income trend:

  • With some irony, some parents who work in the tech industry or have spent years working for internet companies are now limiting their young children’s time spent in front of screens.
  • “Our general philosophy has been to encourage comfort but not dependency on screens,” Hunter Walk, a venture capitalist and father of one who previously spent a decade at YouTube, tells Axios. “She’s in first grade now and most days will pass without any screen time.”
  • These parents tell Axios they're not anti-technology but want to establish good habits early.

Common ground: Across the board, parents want to help kids find balance — especially as growing children widen their use of technology.

  • Parents of toddlers and young kids who spoke to Axios say they’re emphasizing interactive uses like educational content and games and mostly limiting screen time to the weekend, family time, and as entertainment during travel.

Still: Access to technology and the internet offer undeniable education and career benefits. Michael Levine, executive director of Sesame Workshop's Joan Ganz Cooney Center, warns against a blanket "technology is bad for kids" anxiety:

  • "In the rarefied air that many folks in Silicon Valley populate, of course technology is part of the DNA of the family, and limiting the technology that kids use is a fine thing."
  • But he said smartphones and other technology are key means for lower-income families to get much-needed skills and training. "For kids who are already underserved, we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. We need to focus on the content."

Go deeper: The screen-limiting income divide isn't absolute, to be sure: A recent New York Times article focused on a middle-class Kansas community.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California and Washington state.

4 hours ago - World

Sudan's military places civilian prime minister under house arrest

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were also detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

Why it matters: The arrests of the civilian faction in the Sudanese government came a day after U.S. envoy Jeffrey Feltman met with the head of the military faction of the Sudanese government General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and warned him against staging a coup.