Screens Are the Latest Invention NOT Ruining Kids
We have to help our children manage their tech usage — not outlaw it
Nir Eyal is the author of the new book, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. This piece is part of a weeklong series on how to battle distraction, co-edited by Eyal.
Our fears about what technology and smartphones are doing to our kids has reached a fever pitch. Articles with headlines like “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” and “The Risk Of Teen Depression And Suicide Is Linked To Smartphone Use” have, ironically enough, gone viral online.
“It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades,” writes Dr. Jean Twenge in The Atlantic. “Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.”
Convinced by the ominous headlines and fed up with their kids’ tech distractions, some parents have resorted to extreme measures. A YouTube search reveals thousands of videos of parents storming into their kids’ rooms, unplugging the computers or gaming consoles, and smashing the devices to bits in order to teach their kids a lesson.
Parents often turn to convenient myths to explain away the bad behavior of their children.
I can understand parents’ feelings of frustration. One of the first things my daughter ever said was, “iPad time. iPad time!” It became a common refrain, and if we didn’t comply quickly, she’d increase the volume until we did, raising our blood pressure, and testing our patience. As the years passed, my daughter’s relationship with screens evolved, and not always in a good way. She was drawn to spending too much time playing frivolous apps and watching videos.
I’ve seen other parents struggle just like we do. On more than one occasion, we’ve met up with friends and their kids for dinner, only to find ourselves sitting through awkward meals as their kids tap-tap-tap away at their phones.
It’s easy to understand why many parents might think tech is the source of the trouble with kids these days. But is tech really the problem? Was it really my…