Sunday Soapbox: Tech is ruining our kids

Today’s youth seems more focused on ‘likes’ than talking

By Kelly Hockenberry, Columnist, The Times

UTKellyColumn-copy-250x300I write the “Sunday Super Six” on a monthly basis.  Today, I am instituting a semi-regular “Sunday Soapbox”.  My kids are really psyched by this announcement.

Buckle up.


I have had multiple, lengthy conversations with friends concerning the downfall of society as it relates to our children and their addiction to all things digital.  We are experiencing first-hand the effects of relentless texting, Snap Chatting, Instagramming and Tweeting.  How many times have you witnessed your child in and amongst a group of their peers AND NO ONE IS LOOKING AT EACH OTHER BECAUSE THEY ARE LOOKING AT THEIR PHONES!

This is concerning to me.

Now, I know that it is perfectly normal (and a part of maturing) for teens to pull away from their parents.  They crave privacy.  They rely heavily on the opinion of their friends.  However, when my sisters and I were growing up, we demanded an extra-long phone cord so that we could attempt to hide in a closet and talk.  Our kids are “talking” to no less than 25 people at a time, at all hours.  Gone are the days of the Parental Gatekeeper answering the land-line.  Now, it’s boys texting girls texting boys or worse…SNAP CHATTING.  Little flashes of light signifying every exchange.  It drives me crazy.  How much can you really convey by text?  Without hearing tone or inflection, how are you REALLY to know how someone is feeling or reacting to what you are saying?

Kids would rather SHOW themselves having fun (via social media) instead of engaging with each other.  It is all about the “likes”.  As long as you appear happy in your virtual life, the physical one doesn’t seem to matter as much.

What is the solution?  I have a friend who thought of a communal “phone basket.”  Upon entering the house, kids would put their devices away for the duration of the get-together.  Her children were horrified by that idea.  But, I think she may be on to something!

I am also in favor of setting limits to usage (particularly during school time).  Breaking the habit of the need to “check” social media is difficult, but achievable.

What ideas do YOU have?  Share in the Comment section below!

Happy Weekend!

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