Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am a stay-at-home Mom and drive a carpool for my son and two girls, grades 8 and 9. They all take out their phones as soon as they get in my car. I try to ask them questions about school or find songs on the radio they might like. That doesn’t work. Their lack of talk makes makes me feel very sad and I am coming to dislike doing the carpool. Leslie, Strawberry
Dear Leslie: The situation you describe is probably felt by Moms and Dads everywhere…even if they wish for carpool karaoke! ‘Digital etiquette’ may not be something you can teach other people’s children, but start where you can. Have your son sit up front and ask him to put away his phone. If you know the other parents gently probe their own feelings about this. It’s a no-win situation: teens could be checking their assignments, looking at social media, or even texting each other about the Mom driving the car!
Dear Ms. Smartphone: I would like to have better communications with my family. But it’s confusing. My mom seems to always be on the phone when I get home from school. When we have a family dinner, it seems like everyone has their phone next to them. But,I Skype my Grandparents weekly and I talk with my Dad, who lives out-of-state, almost every day. Ken, Penngrove
Dear Ken: Your observations are pretty astute. It’s been said that the technology makes us closer to people who are farther away, and more distant with people who are close by. It varies by age too, so as you get older you might find a different set of experiences to share with nearby family .
When cell phones were fairly new (2008) Pew did a large survey and identified the blurring of work and family life but did not (yet) see an impact on parent/child relationships. Times have changed! Take a look at this 2018 advise from PBS Parents and a Harvard trained pediatrician. She was fascinated (and alarmed) by the cultural change she saw as parents rapidly adopted mobile devices. You cannot change your parents, but you can set an example- communicate with them as you would like them to communicate with you.
Dear Ms Smartphone: Is this normal? My daughter is 15 and a junior in high school. She is always taking pictures of herself…more than 20 a day…. Then she shares some of them with her friends. When I ask her about it she says all teenage girls do this now. Dana, Petaluma
Dear Dana: As a mom to boys, I am less sure about the habits of teenage girls. But surely all teenagers push our buttons and push new technology in different ways. My first concern is that your daughter has clothes on in these pictures. Continue reading “Teens and Cell Phones”