Parents, Our Kids Can’t Handle Smartphones and Social Media!

Why are we acting like we can’t control this increasingly destructive trend of social media and smartphone overuse that is tearing at the social fabric of our lives? This applies to internet enthusiasts of all ages, but as often is the case, our young are more vulnerable and negatively affected by overexposure to the grown-up world. They are still developing and simply don’t have the life experience and maturity to battle such powerful influences.

So many kids are displaying addictive behavior when it comes to their smartphones and social media, yet adults are acting like they can’t do anything about it! Who set up the WiFi? Who bought the phone? Who pays the bill? Who rushes to the store to get it fixed when their teen breaks it? Really? Who is the parent here?

These kids have no idea what their smartphone behavior is doing to their brains, necks, wrists, backs, thoughts and mental health. Adults, on the other hand, should at least have an inkling that there is a problem. In fact, many studies have been done to determine the negative effects of smartphone overuse and social media. One study reported in USA Today concludes that many parents believe their child may be addicted to their smartphone. Yet, what are they doing about it? What limits are they placing on their teen to alleviate that addiction?

Over the years, older studies spoke to these same detrimental issues, yet most parents are still cowering to their device-enabled child and failing to move on the growing mountain of actionable conclusions. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, it is improbable that you’ve not read or heard about the negative effects of smartphone overuse. At the very least, you got eyes! On a daily basis we are all exposed to smartphone-itis all around us. Common sense tells us we need to get a handle on what we are doing as a society to manage this new technology. Between the physical problems and those brought about by unlimited and unsupervised exposure to social media, it is becoming crystal clear that we have a BIG societal problem on our hands.

The bright side of this dilemma is that kids need an adult in order to access the smartphone world. Parents and teachers are the gatekeepers; with parents bearing the brunt of that responsibility as the primary guardians, financiers, and the ones holding most of the cards.

The truth is, parents have the right and ability to tell their kids – preteen and under – that they simply are not getting a smartphone. Or they may choose to get a device loaded with parental controls and supplement with time and location limits enforced by them. Period. Problem solved. Sorry, parents, but last time I checked, a 12-year-old can’t sign a cell phone or tablet contract, nor does he pay the phone bill. He lives under your roof and is fully dependent on you for food, shelter, and guidance. Simple, yes: easy, not so much. But, like with all other dangers against which we must protect our children, it’s worth fighting for their benefit.

We can use our parental authority to simply say no, the same way we would if our 13-year-old asked to borrow our car to pick up her friends. No. You have to wait until you’re a bit older and more ready for such a big responsibility; not to mention that it would be illegal.

This is definitely an example where easier said than done cannot be more true. As a parent in the midst of this battle myself, I am not minimizing the amount of effort and perseverance that must be exerted to counter the massive societal pressure associated with smartphone technology. I know it’s a battle. I know it’s tiring and annoying to listen to all the whining and begging from our children – another sign of addiction, by the way. But you are the parent. It’s your job. Get advice, get help, get support, do what you have to do to protect your child from one of the most deceivingly innocuous threats we have seen in our lifetime. Find a way!

#notafraidtothink                   #fightthegoodfight

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