Drew Barrymore Explains The 'Hard Choice' She Had To Make About Giving Her Kids Smartphones

Like many parents today, she's conflicted about when to allow her young children access to phones.

Drew Barrymore Ron Adar / Shutterstock

While Drew Barrymore tends to be private about her personal life — especially where her children are involved — the actress and host of "The Drew Barrymore Show" occasionally divulges key parenting moments. 

During a recent episode of her show, Barrymore opened up about the choices she's made regarding her daughters, Olive, 11, and Frankie, 10, and their screen time.

Barrymore explained the 'hard choice' she made about not giving her kids smartphones.

In a clip from her show posted to TikTok, Barrymore admitted that lately, she's been struggling because her daughters are now at the age where they're talking about wanting phones. The "Scream" actress claimed that while a lot of parents are giving their kids phones at young ages, she isn't quite ready.


"It's just access to everything. It's really tough," Barrymore said. "I'm very overwhelmed, but I'm not gonna give up. I'm not going to give in. I haven't let my kids have phones yet." 

@thedrewbarrymoreshow @Drew Barrymore on the challenge of parenting kids who want cellphones 🤳 #parents #parentsoftiktok #parenting ♬ original sound - thedrewbarrymoreshow

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"It is amazing to have wanted so badly for my kids to love me and to love their environment and feel safe," she continued. "None of us want our children to resent us, and we don't wanna be their enemy. It is such a hard choice to say, 'I don't care if you hate me for this; I don't care if you're mad at me for this. I know that I'm doing the right thing by you, and I accept your anger.'"

She explained that it's a difficult choice not to allow her kids to have smartphones, especially when many of their peers already do. However, she stands by her decision. 

"It's not a great feeling, but I know that this is what's best for them, and I've got to stick with it," she emphasized. "I have to find the courage every day not to give in. If anyone out there in your life is going through that, I am in complete solidarity with you."

little boy lying on bed looking at phone YakobchukOlena / Canva Pro


Barrymore also insisted that if there are parents out there who gave their young kids phones, it doesn't mean they're in the wrong. There is no right and wrong way to go about this, and for some parents, it's concern for their child's safety that has them buying phones sooner. 

"It's a hard thing to navigate," she concluded. 

Excessive screen time has become quite a popular parenting debate, especially as data and research have emerged about the effects it has on children who use it too frequently. 

According to a study of 7,097 children in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, having anywhere from one to four hours of screen time per day at age 1 is linked with higher risks of developmental delays in communication, fine motor, problem-solving, and personal and social skills by age 2. Parents are encouraged to limit screen time with their kids wherever they can, especially in favor of other enriching activities.


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Drew Barrymore previously opened up about how she navigates screen time with her daughters.

During an interview with Better Homes & Gardens in August 2023, the actress shared her unique approach to managing her children's screen times and what she chooses to allow.

"When it comes to my kids, I'm not a huge fan of personal electronics, like iPads. During the pandemic, when schools were virtual, we were forced into all being on our separate devices, and I didn't like it," she said. "Now, I keep the iPads in a locked safe, and they only come out for special occasions."


Despite being wary about allowing her daughters to be on screens all the time, she is a fan of sharing screens with them instead of letting them go off on their own. Barrymore explained that she enjoys watching movies with her daughters, saying, "We watch a ton of movies and shows, so I'm not judging anyone about screens."

"I'd rather that the three of us all pile into my bed and watch together," she continued. While Barrymore isn't alone in feeling apprehensive about her children having unlimited access to phones, there are tools out there that parents can utilize if they're in the same boat.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with AT&T, has created a free 10-question tool to help parents decide if their child is ready for a smartphone. The AAP has also created a separate free tool that helps parents create a media plan with their child that works for the whole family. 


Eventually, parents are going to have to make that jump and allow their kids to have phones, especially for safety reasons, as they grow up and start going to school on their own. It's best to come up with a plan beforehand to prevent any conflicts or misunderstandings.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.