My 10-year-old granddaughter tends to lose herself in her smartphone. I was frustrated once when I picked her up from school and she immediately disappeared into some sitcom streamed directly to her. When I tried to engage her in conversation there was nothing. She promised she’d do better but the next time brought the same behavior.
Now, I’m an adult and not a peer. And she’s only one child so her behavior shouldn’t be extrapolated to cover everyone in her age group. But I can understand Twenge’s concern. We’ve all witnessed grown adults crossing busy intersections lost in a smartphone. Why should an “iGenner” be more sophisticated than Millennials or Boomers? Getting lost in a smartphone has become a cross-cultural, multi-generational malaise.
We shouldn’t be afraid of smartphones, though. Just as the old dial phone in the corner opened new worlds to us, smartphones will open a universe of possibilities for generations to come.
But when social media and personal devices stand in the way of socialization or person-to-person maturity we’re in danger of isolation and social immaturity. That might be at the core of Twenge’s concerns.
“I think it is [a] good idea to put off giving your child a smartphone as long as you can.” There are other personal phone options available if child safety is a concern. “And then once your teen has a smartphone there are apps that allow parents to restrict the number of hours a day that teens are on the smartphone and, also, what time of day they use it.”
Isn’t it crazy that an app could replace Mom and Dad screaming: “GET OFF THE PHONE!”