Summertime and the usual nonsensical dilemma of who runs the household – the adults or the children – comes into question. While this is an ongoing episodic issue in far too many American households, it tends to escalate as soon as the offspring are released from their school campuses for the months of June, July and August.
Now, if we let them make the decisions – that is, let the kids run the household – they most likely will elect, first and foremost, to utilize their electronic gadgets 24/7 without even a break for meals.
Mealtime used to be family time but we’ve allowed the kids to show up at the gathering table with gadgets in hand and earphones in ears blocking out all family conversation.
Have Times Really Changed?
“It’s a new day,” I’ve been told.
“Kids aren’t like they used to be,” is a constant piece of feedback that comes my way.
“Geez, you’re so Old School” is my favorite of the critiques.
I’m old so, yes, I’m Old School, and while everyday is a “new day,” who should be in charge belongs in the parents’ hands and has throughout the ages.
Kids aren’t any different. It is parents who’ve changed, in part by letting society dictate what should be happening in our households.
I know a teenager who doesn’t have a smartphone or even an old-time flip phone, so he doesn’t text or search out sites online. “Just who’s gonna pay that cell phone bill?” his cranky low-income mom asks.
Cranking out more of her philosophy she adds, “When he gets a job, then he can start shopping.”
Middle-class Dad says his smartphone bill for the family of four runs about $270 a month. And, yes, the young adult offspring, as well as the parents, are pretty much constantly glued, with thumbs working, to their gadgets.
So what’s the problem?
There’s an ongoing concern regarding what those busy young thumbs are pulling up and viewing on their Wi-Fi connected gadget.
There’s an ongoing concern regarding the impact on mental health for young people who are spending so much time gluing their eyes to the screen and absorbing content.
A 2016 mental health study on social-media addiction study showed a definite correlation between its use and depression.
It’s further reported that people who checked social- media the most frequently were 2.7 times more likely to suffer from depression than their counterparts.
A REAL CASE SCENARIO
Ms. TwentySomething was depressed and actually talked suicide. She said her social media postings were not getting the same amount of “likes” as were other “friends” in her “circle.”
And she wept continually because others in the circle were making bigger strides toward their life goals than she was.
The study captures her anxiety and depression as though the researchers were there with us in the EMR.
“Exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.”
The psychiatrist in the EMR diagnosed Ms. TwentySomething as a social media addict. It has taken her a year to move away from “the pull.”
Has she really conquered her addiction? Probably not, because her gadget still remains her best friend and her constant companion.
WHAT TO DO?
The costs parents are paying for social media connections may far exceed the $270 Mr Middle-class Dad is shelling out every month for his kids to engage in working their thumbs, deactivating their brains, and neglecting to engage in general conversation when at home.
The cost parents are paying for social media connections is far more than the embarrassment low-income kids may suffer because their “cranky” moms haven’t provided them the gadgets their friends are hooked on.
For the parents who initiate the following easy-to-implement suggestions, be prepared for your popularity rate to plummet.
- If you haven’t already – don’t buy your kids a smartphone.
- If they already have one, limit the amount of time it can be in use (while at home).
- Limit time on computers.
- Computers should not be in the bedroom but where they are visible to everyone (family room?).
- Become a role model – don’t always be on your gadget.
- Create activities that include the kids – gardening/exercise/jumprope (ha, ha).
- No gadgets at the eating table.
- No television during mealtime.
- No gadgets in the car – get them to call out street names and landmarks. Get them to talking.
- TVs and computers should be in the kitchen or open family area – not in the bedrooms.
- Establish a time limit for all screen activities.
- One hour prior to bedtime NO screen activities.