Who’s SmartPhone Use is the Issue?

I came across a really smart article that challenges the common wisdom that smartphone use is making the difficult transitions of adolescence worse. Perhaps, says the article, it’s not the kids’ smartphone use that is at issue, but our own.

“Fellow parents, it’s time for us to consider another possible explanation for why our kids are increasingly disengaged. It’s because we’ve disengaged ourselves; we’re too busy looking down at our screens to look up at our kids.

I know: it’s how I live myself. Children are super annoying—especially teenagers, I would say, now that I’ve got one. I would much rather spend half an hour playing Words with Friends on Facebook than spend it playing an inane board game with an 11-year-old who refuses to play by the rules. I would much rather spend an hour perusing Wonder Woman crafts on Pinterest than listening to my 13-year-old ramble on about anime. As a friend warned me when I first got pregnant, “children are simultaneously overwhelming and under-stimulating.” Why wouldn’t we want to be distracted from that?”


I read this article not so much as a parent, but as a grandparent. When Sara and Matt were little, Jerry and I didn’t have smart phones. I don’t remember when I first got a cell phone, but when I did I used it to make calls — no camera, no Words with Friends, no news feeds, no email updates or checking my stats on WordPress. The cell phone mostly stayed tucked away, unless I was making or receiving a call — and in those days we still had a land line, and most of our calls came on that.

I do, more than I would care to admit, take out my smart phone when I’m with Archie and Else. Usually I do it when the kids are doing something else, and when they turn back to me I put the phone away. But I suspect the phone comes between me and them in ways that it didn’t with Sara and Matt at comparable ages.

Much food for thought in this article. If you have time, read it and let me know what you think.

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