Summer and Smart Phones
So, how’s your summer shaping up? Are you ready for another summer of your teen video gaming and sexting until four in the morning? And what about the exhibition of inappropriate outbursts, anti-social behavior, and physical aggression when you ask him to cut the grass, unload the dishwasher, or feed the dog?
Really?! You didn't realize the school year had gone by so quickly. Well it has; summer is here in just a few days.
Smart Phones & Peer Pressure
Smart phones and peer pressure are dominating your teenagers world and parents you are the only one who can bring it under control.
I understand parents do want communication with their kids; they do want to know if rehearsal has let out early or if ball practice has cancelled due to rain, so it seems sensible to pass out smart phones to the whole family…especially when the service provider has a 4-for-1 device special with unlimited data. Who can resist? The problem is that all they need is something basic: a flip phone or slide phone – kids do not need a smart phone with a data package.
Why Not a Smart Phone?
Why not a smart phone? Because statistics indicate that kids with smart phones are not doing research for their term paper they are consumed with Facebook, Tumblr, Vine, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and of course email and text messaging. According to Statista.com 79% of Snapchat users are Teens ages 13-17; Instagram boasts 76%; Pinterest 20% and so on.
Kids of all ages suffer from FMO: Fear of Missing Out; and social media magnifies that fear says Justin White contributor at The Washington Post.
Peer pressure to be part of the in-crowd brings the need to be an active participant on social media to a whole new level. It’s no longer about having a phone, it’s about being visible on all of the best sites; and, of course visibility is all about being followed and following all of the important, in-crowd people. Of course, once your teen puts out a message, comment or photo out in cyber space, the anxiety associated with of waiting for a reply is paralyzing. In other words their world stops while they are waiting on the reply: they cannot converse with you; or do their schoolwork; or go to sleep. They take their meals in their rooms and you allow it to avoid the confrontation. Parents are, in their teens minds, responsible for food, clothing and shelter; a smart phone and cash; and privacy.
It’s Marketing 101 For Teens. Come on mom and dad; get on board. Think about it this way: you allow a couple of hours each day before work and before you go home to deal with emails; during the day you listen for the alerts that let you know who has replied as you move through your to do list. Now, add to your agenda managing posts and replies from 150-200 followers on Instagram, one of the most popular teen social media sites. Factor in the 52M new photos and 1.65B Likes that Statisticbrain.com says are uploaded/clicked every day; along with the 6000 tweets per second as recorded by Internetlivestats.com and, remember your teen brain is being fueled by FMO!
Now, do you see why that phone is “an appendage growing out of her hand” as it was told to me by a parent in crisis.
So what’s a parent to do?
Reasoning does not work; save your breath. Establishing boundaries does. Sometimes the boundary lines have not been drawn soon enough so they only serve to be a stumbling block for teens instead of a respect-building tool. Because of this, teens often choose to ignore the boundary and go to whatever length necessary to find social acceptance…even if its from the wrong person.
Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir addressed this in a recent airing of ABCs 20/20. One Tween began looking for social media acceptance at 12 years old. Unbeknown to her parents, she would stay awake sending inappropriate text messages after her parents had gone to sleep. They came to know of the problem two years later when the police appeared at their door one evening and showed them the evidence that their daughter had been sexting with a man in his 30s. The parents finally sought help with Solstice when they realized their daughter was suffering from depression and was having suicidal ideations.
Vargas also told us about another 12-year-old teen that built his own gaming computer in his bedroom. At first his parents would take the computer away when he was at school, but after a while he simply dropped out of school and increased his gaming time. The parents hid the router in the car locking it away but that resulted in the teen hitting the walls; throwing objects; and engaging in physical altercations with his parents. His anger was out of control. By this point in time he was gaming more than 60 hours a week. After 2 years of this nightmare his parents were at their wits end; they opted for an intervention; and had him transported for treatment to Outback Therapeutic Expeditions Unplugged.
Unplugging is great but it is not an easy fix. It’s more than device free dining or having a docking station for phones at night. It's about being able to reset neurologically from the damage that has been done to your teens brain. The teen in the wilderness said that ultimately he was glad his parents intervened because he was destroying himself mentally without even being aware of what was going on. Now after 10 weeks in the desert he is on a better path. Hopefully he will learn respect for the devices that the world requires he use on a regular basis and will learn the art of conversation which disappeared over the two years he spent gaming in his room.
So, I ask you again: how’s your summer shaping up?