HGTV Hosts Ben and Erin Napier Respond to Critics of Their Initiative to Ban Smartphones, Social Media in Elementary Schools


“Home Town Takeover” stars Ben and Erin Napier appeared on CNN on Friday to promote their new group which aims to keep elementary school-aged children off of social media.

“Home Town Takeover” is a relatively new HGTV show which follows the Napier couple as they attempt to revive small towns.

The series is a spinoff of their ongoing show “Home Town” which takes place in Laurel, Mississippi. The earlier series has a similar premise but focuses more on creating the dream home for its customers.


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In Season 1 of “Home Town Takeover,” the Napiers renovated 12 buildings and homes in Wetumpka, Alabama. Season 2 focuses on the even smaller town of Fort Morgan, Colorado, where they renovated 6 more buildings than before, according to Distractify.

Both shows have been quite successful, and the Napiers are now trying to use their spotlight to bring attention to their family’s group called “Osprey” (Old School Parents Raising Engaged Youth).

Osprey, as they explained during their Friday appearance on CNN News Central, is a grassroots initiative aimed at helping elementary-age children and their families foster “social lives without social media.”

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CNN’s Brianna Keilar remarked that while many parents may “theoretically” agree with the plan to keep kids off of social media, she asked the Napiers how they plan to implement such a “tricky” concept.

“I think that’s really key to what we hope our movement becomes, is that it starts in elementary school, before our kids have exposure to devices or have any need for them,” Erin Napier said.

Their support for such an initiative, Ben said, “is something that we’ve caught a lot of criticism about because we don’t have teenagers yet.”

“That’s the point” though, Erin explained. “You have to begin now. Because phones become ubiquitous in about fifth grade. We’re learning, like, 80 percent of kids who are 10 years old have a smartphone.”


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“If you begin when your children are in kindergarten through fifth grade, and you start finding other families who have this same plan and belief [that] your kids can rely on each other, then they have social lives without social media. That is the goal.”

Ben added, “And the whole point of Osprey and building your nest, is that it eliminates the, you know, the discussion of ‘oh, well I’m the only kid that doesn’t have it.’ No, you’re not. We know for a fact that your friends don’t have it.”

“None of your friends have it. And that’s the goal,” Erin said.

Asked how they would sell this concept to kids, the two said that social media addiction is “not just a kid problem, it’s a human problem” that feeds our desire to “fit in.”

“Think about when we were growing up. We didn’t have them and we loved it, you know, life was amazing. We were happy,” Ben said.

The ultimate goal of Osprey is to form both big and small communities among parents and children who decide to live life without social media.

“Forming a circle of families and friends who are in this together when your kids are little, linking arms and doing what it takes to give your kids the gift of a social media free adolescence is the only way we change the culture,” Erin wrote in a July 5 Instagram post, noting that research indicates social media use can be harmful to adolescent brain development.

“For the TWENTY THOUSAND parents who’ve joined the Osprey newsletter after my post last month, we have a vision and a plan to give our kids support that starts now and takes them through high school graduation,” she said, adding: “Let’s make old school the new way.”

According to Osprey’s website, those interested in joining the group should form a local chapter at their school or form friend groups known as “nests” for parents to “hold each other accountable and lift each other up.”

The group offers newcomers an Osprey Guidebook for them to learn more about the movement and has an online directory for families nationwide to connect with each other.

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