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Category Archives: Screens

Your Love-Hate Relationship with Your Phone

We love them – convenience, immediacy, entertainment, the connections.
We hate them – inconvenience, constancy, anxiety, the dis-connections.

Tristan Harris, of Silicon Valley, had this to say about those devices that we have such a love/hate relationship with:

“Never before in history have a handful of people at a handful of technology companies shaped how a billion people think and feel every day…”



Really pretty scary when you think about it.
Are we being controlled by outside forces?  Um-hmm….
I mean, what else do you check 150 times a day?

And we’re ADULTS!

At a media talk I gave recently, a dad mused, “I guess we have to get our phone use under control before we can expect our kids to manage theirs.”

Have you thought about this?

When you pick up your phone, or give a phone to your child/tween/teen, you are handing them a device that has been specifically designed to be addictive…

These teens admitted that their phones had become their ‘drug of choice,’ spending more than 6-7 hours on them each day.  Sure, that’s an extreme – that’s not you or your child…but, when you think about it, how much time do you lose when scrolling through Facebook? (which, by the way, has been designed to keep you scrolling…and scrolling…because as you scroll, Facebook is getting paid by advertisers…$$$$)

Our phones are THEIR MARKETING TOOL – and we’re lining THEIR pockets with a LOT of $$$$ every time we pick them up. Phones that are designed (with the help of neuroscientists and psychologists) to make us LINGER LONGER because the longer we linger, the more ad revenue Facebook is making.

This 60 Minutes interview with Tristan (a 13-minute clip) gives you a glimpse:

Tristan contends (and I think we’d all agree), phones – with their apps and other distractions – are “weakening our relationships with each other and destroying our kid’s ability to focus.”

Those teens that were addicted to their phones realized for the first time what it was like to be all alone, with themselves.They began to see the world in a new way and recognize themselves in a way that they never had!

Another compelling interview aired recently on NPR: “Irresistible By Design: Its No Accident You Can’t Stop Looking at the Screen” with Adam Alter.

He is the author of the book:

This is a bit of a tirade and as I write this, I wonder, what are you thinking?
Is it just:  “Blah blah blah…here we go again….”
Or: “I know, I should be more thoughtful…but….”
…and the reasons and excuses go on…

The thing is, we’re adults.

We can make informed decisions – choosing to ignore the data….yet, we are fortunate enough to actually have a time to remember back to – when phones weren’t running our lives.

Our kids won’t have that.

Our kids are in this i-world and there is no going back.

BUT there is informed decision-making, including holding off on getting your kid a phone as long as possible; regulating your use in front of your kids; and talking about the addictive qualities of phones (age-appropriately) with your kids.

Scariest of all: we have NO CLUE how all of this will impact our kids when they are adults.

But, we need to worry when neuroscientists are designing the computer codes that run the phones – our brains have been hacked.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with your kids and phones, join us in the Boys Alive! Facebook group (and yes, I’m fully sensing the irony as I write that….)


What Example Are You Setting?

“I guess I need to give up my phone if I don’t want him to learn that behavior from me. It’s not like I need it for work or anything. I’m just used to checking it,” a Dad mused with me recently.

If you have a child of any age, screen time is likely a hot-button issue – kind of an “all-consuming/addictive” topic!

(Did you know Google, Apple, and all the others know oh-so-well how to captivate and addict you with their programs, apps, and phone designs?)

There is no avoiding it with our kids – so we compromise, negotiate, and navigate until we make ourselves crazy – and our kids wear us down.

Holding off as long as possible is a worthwhile strategy. Still, what 2 year-old can’t swipe a screen? After all, they’ve been watching us and mimicking our movements from day one.

They whine at restaurants, so we hand them our phone.
They’re on the brink of meltdown at the grocery store, so we hand them our phone.
They plead and beg with us until we can’t stand it a moment longer, so we hand them our phone.

And so it begins. And you’re in deep.

It is scary that we are setting an example for behaviors that we actually have no idea where they will lead – how they will be impacted by them by the time they are our age!

SEVEN things to do now:

1. Hold off as long as possible! They will never ask for LESS media.

2. Leave your phone off. Or, better yet, leave it at home. (I actually raised my kids to adulthood without having a phone in my pocket!)

3. Observe your own phone use – is it really necessary RIGHT NOW to scroll through your instagram?

4. Observe your children – or other people’s children – when the parent is on the phone. The looks of longing in those kid’s eyes is heartbreaking.

5. Delete apps that qualify as “time wasters.” If you can’t manage your own time on-screen, install an app that limits your time.

6. Keep track (there’s an app) of the time you do spend on screens. Research has proven that we generally UNDERestimate the amount of time we are on screens.

7. NATURE is the anti-venom for screens. Make sure you get out, look around, smell the air and feel the breeze every day – and leave your phone at home!


Educating yourself is your best defense!

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