How hard is it to take a phone away from your teen?

Our condolences

I’d like to begin this blog by offering my sincere prayers to the Iowa family who is grieving the horrific loss of their 13 year old son.  The guilt, despair, and pain they must be going through is unimaginable.  As a mother of two children, I would feel as if my heart was ripped out of my lifeless body.  No one should ever have to bury a child of any age. 

 Can I bend with a face-to-face phone conversation?

I’m going to refer to an earlier blog of mine on November 10 titled Gia’s Op-Ed.  I responded to an article regarding using technology as a reward/punishment system. 

In the article, the author strongly suggests we don’t use technology as a bargaining tool.  While I agreed with some of it, I strongly disagreed with much of it.  

My reasons for disagreeing are based on what I have set up in my own household.  A ZERO technology policy.  While I say that, let me share a story.

Last night, my daughter received a FaceTime phone call from a friend. The call came through on my phone and I allowed her to talk to this friend.  She was in the same room with me while conversing.  

Some might call me a hack or a fraud because they might not see that as ZERO technology. However, the bottom line is my children have no ipads, smartphones, or gaming.  

Can I bend with a face to face phone conversation?  Yes.  Remember, I’m all about communication.  The ability to be verbally communicative.  

What does this have to do with the tragic loss of a child in the heartland?  

Sadly, I’ve often referred to smartphones as weapons.  When young people have underdeveloped brains and have access to something as powerful as a smartphone, the risks they might encounter are endless.  

Statistically, we are seeing teen suicide at alarming rates. Lives are being destroyed by social media. There is an inability to escape cyberbullying. There are tremendous spikes in anxiety and focus issues. Overall, there is a general inability to function with or without a device.  

A Powerful tool

Ironically, our children aren’t functioning well WITH a device and God forbid you take it away. A teen’s entire world comes crashing down.  

When a tool has so much power over an individual that they can’t imagine life without their phone, that’s a real problem.  As a 43 year old woman, I might have difficulty if I don’t have my phone.  Often, I check business emails while sitting in the car at school pick up. I need to be accessible if school calls to let me know I have a sick kiddo. Sometimes, I check my bank account before going to bed to avoid dragging out my laptop. Certainly, there are tech conveniences. However, I can function without it.  My entire social world is not tied into that little 5 1/2 by 3 inch mini-computer.  I don’t feel devastated if it’s not on me at all times.  

What we do know.

We know through science and data that there is such a thing as technology addiction. We are presented with stories of children who are being hurt daily through social media. Research shows that kids today are riddled with anxiety as a result of the pressure they feel to keep up with their social media.  

The FOMO (fear of missing out) component is rampant with our children. They have 24/7 access to what everyone is doing and whether or not they were included.  We know they are googling things you wouldn’t let your mother see let alone a 10 year old. Sometimes, they simply stumble upon content unbecoming. 

Lastly, we know that if you take away a phone from your teenager, your life will become a living hell and your kid is going to freak out. Yet, we just keep hoping it will all be ok.  

Continually, we tell ourselves that we just need to adhere to the screen time limits. We must put the apps in place to block content. Our child must have what their friends have to avoid being ostracized. All of these things are going to make it ok.  We close our eyes, cross our fingers, hope for the best, and chalk it up to “it’s just the way the world is today.” 

Spin the cylinder

Often, I refer to it as “Russian Roulette parenting is the new black.” Gambling with our most precious and valuable creatures is vile.  The fact that we know there are so many risks involved, and we give it to them anyway, sickens me. 

You can talk to any school teacher, administrative personnel, psychiatrist, and pediatrician.  Not ONE of them, will tell you this isn’t a problem. And the beat goes on. 

What if we never gave it to them in the first place? Interestingly, we are asking our children to manage something far beyond their developmental capabilities. We want them to be responsible with something we can’t even keep under control at times. How many lives could be saved if we could shield our children from the negatives that come with technology?  

Sadly, I bet those devastated parents have already had that thought.  Stay strong, parents.  Keep talking.

Do you use screen time for reward and punishment?

It’s time to set limits in your home.

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