It’s that damn phone

You know, back in the day, we used to mock our parents for not knowing how to text or navigate social media or texting with their pointer finger.

They called it “face chat” and “snap crap” and couldn’t even remember the other names of the sites and apps we were using. They were too busy enjoying life and engaging in real conversations.

But now, as a parent myself, I can’t help but blame myself for the changes I see in our 11-year-old since giving him a phone for his 10th birthday. It’s that damn phone that’s causing all the trouble, that damn phone I thought would be great for all the chaos in the world, being able to call after a practice or school. He is not even allowed his phone at school, but he still finds a way to make the most of it.

I admit it – I thought giving our child a smartphone was no big deal. But now, I see how it has affected his attention span and behavior. He’s constantly distracted, irritable, and his attitude has changed so much. It’s like he’s a different kid, and I can’t ignore the fact that the phone is to blame along with myself for giving it to him, and sadly the tide is strong to turn, I mean unless kids are surrounded with other kids that don’t have phones, or any handheld they are somehow the outcast.

It’s not rocket science to figure out that smartphones have shortened the attention spans of today’s youth. The constant change that goes on with scrolling video after video and not to mention all the info that comes with each one of them for maybe 20 seconds a video.

With notifications, messages, and entertainment at their fingertips 24/7, it’s no wonder they struggle to focus or engage in meaningful activities. And let’s face it – we, as parents, are partly responsible for this mess. Maybe you’ll be like us and say well he doesn’t get Facebook, or instagram, Snapchat or Tik Tok. It doesn’t matter, it still affects them, they learn slang and meanings of things kids should probably not even know as high schoolers.

The games are one thing but YouTube and YouTube shorts is an entire different monster. It doesn’t even have to be a phone. A smart tv has YouTube right there at their fingertips as well and kids today would rather watch a kid open presents than play with their own, my 6 year old is a prime example and I know he’s not the only one, they can’t even watch a good cartoon like SpongeBob, or Rocket Power, shit I was signing Bear in the Big Blue House till 5th grade, and trying to be a drummer like they did at the end of Out of the Box on Disney Channel.

The more our kids are glued to their screens, the more irritable and anxious they become. Social media, online games, and instant messaging are shaping their behavior and mental health in ways we never anticipated. It’s a wake-up call for me as a parent to take a hard look at the impact of that damn phone on my children.

One thing’s for sure – it’s not some huge equation to figure out the problem. It’s more of me accepting responsibility for the monster I have created. It’s that damn phone that’s causing all the chaos. As a parent, it’s our responsibility to take charge, communicate openly with our children, and lead by example in creating a healthier digital environment for our families.

And let’s not forget how the bad news is always on the front page, poisoning us and conditioning us into this ever-fast-paced, scrolling lifestyle.

The constant barrage of negative information can take a toll on our mental well-being and shape our worldview in detrimental ways. When your kid is stressed he or she scrolls for a release and absorbs ungodly amounts of useless and dangerous information.

In the end, the impact of phones on today’s youth is a reality we can’t ignore. By accepting our role in shaping our children’s relationship with technology, setting clear boundaries, and prioritizing their well-being, we can work towards a solution that puts the focus back on what truly matters – our children’s growth, development, and happiness.

After all you can’t go back and change what’s been done but everyone can turn the page and start a new beginning and future. They are kids after all, and while their behaviors stems from the phone, I’m the one that signed the contract and bought the damn thing, it’s time I own up and become better at navigating these issues that stare me right in the face.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.