Meeting the iPhone Halfway
Parents, have you heard the term, ‘Nomophobia’?
It described as anxiety caused by either a misplaced smartphone or a smartphone with a dead battery. The term is short for "no-mobile-phone-phobia", and refers to a state of mind fearful of not being able to communicate with others and losing connectedness.
The loss of connection. Anxiety producing. For us all.
This year, teens have lost a lot in the way of social growth experiences to be sure. I've mourned with them over postponement and cancellation. In a small way though, they may be better prepared for face to face disappointment than other and older parenting people like myself, having their social circles, big or small, anchored in the constant flow of social media. While many popular social media platforms are as shallow as they are certain, still, for our teens, friendships are often comfortably sustained within the realm of digital citizenship. What's the draw?
During my most recent wrestle for a healthy balance of time and screen in our remote learning home, I asked some teenage friends to list their positives of cell phone use. I had an authentic desire to know about the soul care of a cell phone in the lives of our youth. They obliged me and here are their top five responses:
Connect with friends
Meet new friends
Understand the world faster
Join groups with common interests
Learn new topics/interests
Have a voice
Connect, meet, understand, join, learn and share. Interesting. Without clear guidelines, many teens struggle to handle the responsibility of having a smartphone. Family Education’s 10 Apps for Parents to Monitor Kids’ Mobile Use and Common Sense Media’s Step-By-Step Tips to Set up Your Kid’s iphone have helped our family with that. Having an active phone contract with our son has also been a life conversation starter and saver. But when I consider these deeper and healthy needs expressed by my adolescent study group, the internal fight I sometimes feel seemed to give way to new understanding, and something else. I became more intentional about making sure good questions, honest and broad interest and active listening offer my children as equal or better opportunity to connect and grow as they may seek from the virtual world. What's on your teen's top five?
Director of Community Health and Education