In the past week, I’ve read several studies that are scary to me… it’s the scary truth about what’s hurting our kids. We all know that what our kids hear becomes their inner voice, but it’s hard to control what they hear from others, isn’t it?
CNN recently interviewed Dr. Jean Twenge, author of iGen and her interview worried me – because I saw the truth that I would be facing in just a few short years as my oldest son would enter high school and I would be parenting teens and elementary ages kids too. Dr. Twenge started doing research 25 years ago on generational differences, but when 2011 -2012 hit, she saw something that would scare her to the core. This is the year when everyone had video games and those having iPhones went over the 50% mark.
Think about what that really means: it was when people began to have access to the digital world. Social media took off, sending videos & photos increased (along with feelings of being left out). The line that separated our home lives from our school/work & social lives became very blurred.
The results of that showed teen behavior that should scare all of us.
- This was the year that more kids started to say that they felt “sad, hopeless, useless… that they couldn’t do anything right (depression).”
- They had frequent mood swings.
- They felt left-out and lonely.
- The depression rate is rising even faster among millennials (up 47 percent) and adolescents (up 47 percent for boys and up 65 percent for girls. (source: BCBS report)
- Depression Diagnoses of major depression are rising fastest among those under age 35.
- Depression Diagnoses have increased 47% since 2013 among millennials (ages 18–34).”
- A substantial increase in suicide rate.
Before I give you any more info, I want you to look at these graphs of what could be considered negative behaviors and look at how the information correlates to the iPhones being released.
They aren’t hanging out with friends nearly as much.
They aren’t dating as much in their teen years.
More likely to feel lonely in their teen years.
They are getting less sleep.
She goes on to say that we are in the worst mental health crisis in decades. You can get her book, iGen, with my Amazon affiliate link here, to read the rest of her findings.
Why is this happening? Why are kids more depressed because of electronics?
Think about when we were in school – we didn’t know every time that there was a get-together that we weren’t invited to and we didn’t see pictures of each outing, game, or party.
We didn’t care what we looked like when we were hanging out with friends in my teenage years, because we were the only ones that were there- I can remember sitting around with my best friends in our sweatpants, just laughing – I didn’t wear makeup or care if I had my hair fixed just right, because the worry of a phone or camera wasn’t there.
Think about bullies.
When we left school, we left them. If teasing happened, it didn’t happen at home. It didn’t happen so publicly. Everyone couldn’t see it or know what they were teasing other kids about since they weren’t there.
Now, it’s all public knowledge, and our kids’ peer group can join in or watch. It’s horrifying.
I can’t imagine being a tween or teenager now. Although- as the parents of children, we have to believe it, because we have to help our children navigate it. And the parents and teen relationship is much more difficult. It’s hard to be a role model and encourage your teen when you have difficulty relating, and raising teenage boys and girls well has never been important.
According to Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist & writer at YourOT.com, “There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels – our children… Researchers have been releasing alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in kids’ mental illness, which is now reaching epidemic proportions:
- 1 in 5 children has mental health problems
- 43% increase in ADHD
- 37% increase in teen depression
- 100% increase in the suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old“
She goes on to say that “Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood:
- Emotionally available parents that stay connected
- Conversations that included eye contact
- Clearly defined limits and guidance
- Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
- Movement and outdoors
- Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom
Instead, children are being served with:
- Digitally distracted parents
- Indulgent parents who let their teenage sons and daughters “Rule the world”
- A sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
- Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
- Sedentary indoor lifestyle
- Easier access to drugs and alcohol that can lead to substance abuse
- Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments”
How true… and how sad.
You can read the rest of her story and more at yourot.com
I couldn’t agree more. According to TIME.com, “Despite the rise in teen depression, the study, which analyzed data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, reported that there wasn’t a corresponding increase in mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults. Researchers said this is an indication that there is a growing number of young people who are under-treated or not treated at all for their symptoms.”
The article goes on to say that it’s not just how our teens behave and feel, it’s young kids – in elementary school. School Counselors like Ellen Chance in Palm Beach say they see evidence that technology and online bullying are affecting kids’ mental health as young as fifth grade, particularly girls.
“I couldn’t tell you how many students are being malicious to each other over Instagram. “I’ve had cases where girls don’t come to school, and they are cutting themselves and becoming severely depressed because they feel outcasted and targeted.” She says she now sees cutting incidents pretty much weekly at her elementary school, and while they vary in severity, it’s a signal that not all is right.”
What can we do about it?
1. Swap Chores for Screentime
Responsibilities increase their self-worth. Example: if you don’t set the table, we can’t eat. If you don’t wash your clothes, you will have nothing to wear tomorrow:
“To develop a high self-esteem a person needs a purpose. A key component to high self-esteem relies on how you view yourself regarding contribution. In other words, in the child development process, chores are a big role in a kid’s self-esteem.” ~Impact Parenting.
Swap Chores for Screen Time. If they want to have screen time, they need to pitch in first.
They need to learn that work comes before play. This will drastically cut back on their electronic time without any nagging or yelling from you. You can purchase the cards here.
2. The AAP now suggests screening all children for depression starting at age 11.
3. Get back to what we did before phones (back to what our parents did when we were young)… spend time playing games with our kids.
4. Spend dinnertime talking.
5. Drop everything that you are doing when your kids get home from school to TALK to them.
6. Make dinner without having the TV on, the phone close by, or the tablet tuned into something.
7. Use any ‘car time’ to talk to our kids (maybe even by not allowing electronics in the car)
8. Be sure that your child is getting enough hours of sleep. This is a substantial contributing factor.
9. Don’t keep a lot of junk food in the house. Limit junk food & replace it with fruits & vegetables. If your child is picky, they can certainly find a fruit or vegetable that they like. (I’ve taught our kids to make smoothies, too, but they have to clean up after themselves, or they lose the privilege of using the blender… they LOVE to make them, so this is a consequence that they will not want to be placed on them).
Join the one-on-one time challenge (30 days) for FREE.
11. Have a no-tech week and tell your kids to “go play!” Don’t feel the need to always play with them. My job, as a play therapist, is to teach parents how to play with their kids to help them, so while I always think that playing with your kids is a good idea, but I also want them to play alone. I want them to learn how to keep themselves entertained.
12. From the time that our kids were very young, I gave them time to entertain themselves, and now they are able to find ways to keep themselves busy (drawing, playing, building, etc..)
13. Don’t rescue your kids. Here’s a recent example that happened in our house:
I’ve started having our kids pack their lunches (with my supervision), but yesterday one of our sons decided to wait.. .and wait… and wait. When it was down to 10 minutes before leaving, he asked me to pack it.
I said no, and he then asked for lunch money.
I said, “I think it’s upstairs in your piggy bank if you have some in there.” His face said it all. I wasn’t going to buy him out of this. It was his responsibility.
It is NEVER easy to teach our kids these lessons, but they serve our kids well. He quickly made himself lunch and was on his way. He learned a valuable life lesson about preparing himself for the day.
14. Talk to your kids about why they need to come to you if something is wrong. I talk to our kids about all of this, and they know that I would do anything to help them. I say it daily… “If you are ever feeling sad or left out about something and it becomes too big for you to handle easily, come to me.”
Yes, it’s a lot to tell them, but it is the truth. I need them to know it. It’s not a joking matter, and it’s not one to take lightly. Talk to your kids TODAY.
15. Make a rule with yourself that you will limit YOUR online distractions when your kids are home. Set a time that you can put electronics away… for example: Make 3:30-9:00 a no-tech time for you, the parent. (or whatever hours your kids are home). It will not only benefit your kids, but it will help you, too.
Yes, it’s the scary truth about what’s hurting our kids, but we have the power to help.
Here are more posts you might like:
Susanne Lorentzen says
It’s so true – it almost breaks my heart
As you say we as parents and grandparents have to change the way we take care of our children and grandchildren. Not only must we dedicate the time we spend with them to them and talk with them, make them really useful in the family – but very important we must play with them and HUG them, kiss them, hug them again. The brain reacts when we get physical with our children and dopamine and other neurotransmitters do the same. This can counteract depression in a natural way.
And – we need more hugs, kisses and in general more contact between people of all ages. Let us make love – let us make our lives full of love ❤️ and sunshine ☀️☀️
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Yep- that’s the hard part… changing US to change how they feel.
Thank you for taking the time to write, Susanne.
S. Bull says
But what happens if it’s too late? If you have children that are older than adolescents?
Honestly it may look different than what it would if your children were younger, but I don’t think it’s ever to late. It will probably be hard at first but baby steps and don’t give up!
Leslie MacMillan says
No don’t ever give up . Start out with baby steps and increase them.
Yes as parent to teenagers when they do not want to spend time with their parents. I am always suggesting get out and play with your mates. To my son. Daughter is already hooked on her social media world😫
Joey Zamorski says
apologize to them from deep in your heart. Tell them what you have learned and be sure they understand. They say, in family therapy, that it takes three generations to heal. Let it begin with you.
I think that if YOU (as an adult) wouldn’t want someone to give up on you, you shouldn’t give up on them. Just because they’re older doesn’t mean they can’t (or won’t) change. What can it hurt to try??
It never to late to help our loved kids pre teen teen younglearning adult a parents wise word amd wise teaching will always make a impacted thats why we are call parents simple we are a life time of teachers a real parents dedicates the value of a young imspiring life to the fulest sorry bad speller bit point made hugs kisses play is needed good day folks
Glenn, I don’t see why your reply to this article is a punctuation bashing of someone else’s comments on this topic. What Kramer said was valuable. Who cares about the lack of punctuation in how that person replied? Maybe they do not have a great handle on the English language, like you do, but…isn’t what you just did, a case in point, of what we don’t want our children to do? Be kind. That goes a long way!
Hi there I totally agree itz Never too late no matter how many Wrongs I am Alwayz there 24/7 no matter what!! Good or bad times!! Mum is always there I may not always have the answers or agree on what has happnd but being a mum thatz ehat I feel!! 💖💖
Exactly!!! And my 14 couldn’t care less about doing chores and having privileges taken away, she couldn’t care less about not having lunch, trust me, nothing works and when she did put dishes in the dw she just laid them flat not between the racks!!! She won’t spend time with us and doesn’t like us in her room! She won’t take a walk, the only thin she will do is go to yoga
Ask her to teach you about yoga. Tell her the reasons you think it might help you cope with your life. Kids love to be the experts rather than always being the ones who need to be helped. This may show her that you value her talents and knowledge and open the door to more open communication.
I agree Ashley. Also despite her pushing away, most kids want to know the young are still loved. Often the way we act reflects how we think about ourselves. Maybe try verbalising that you love your daughter and always will. Maybe apologise to her for mistakes you may have made (we all make mistakes). It is so hard to be patient, but try to remember your daughter is still young and trying to work out who she is. One of my daughters brought me to despair at times (now 24) but in the end just loving her … and telling her I loved her and being as consistent as I could be with boundaries got us through (along with LOTS of prayer lol). Hang in there Mum!
L lessor says
This doesn’t happen overnight if they are teens now. To demand they start doing thing so now will just stress you out and the kids get more rebellious. They use their learned helplessness to manipulate and control the family. You are the parent not them. You’re yelling at a kid that you groomed basically to run the show. Only problem is the real world isn’t remotely easy and they get a rude awakening too late when they try and run the show at a job. They are dictating when and what days they can work. Um sorry you’re fired and there’s a million good people behind you that need a job so bye bye. Then you get the boss discriminates or they are expecting too much when they know I can’t do what they are asking. Well hello that’s what work is you learn to do the job. But they can’t get away with it. Then the big thing now is I’m depressed have anxiety and can’t be around people, social anxiety. It is a rampant learned behaviour with able kids because they have found out that it’s easy to get meds get diagnosed with anxiety which in turn now a days is labelled a disability which in turn gets you out of working. Every single person could answer yes to getting any of these problems so Drs have to smarten up and quit helping them be helpless also. Sooner or later there’s will Ben someone that will shut your kid down and call them on their BS. Then they get more diant cause what has worked all their life isn’t working anymore, then bam reality sets in but too late. Very few people have anxiety or depression to the extent that they don’t work or demandmeds Tovar cope o. Those kids actually try harder to show they can do it on meds off meds whatever it takes. And you better believe that all these years your kid has been running you that when they’ve go to joe blows they do the dishes and say please. If they do that then there’s is a hope for them. If they don’t and act the same then look out Youl” have them living with you until you kick them out after more years of stress and fighting. We used to have to be up with our resumes at 9 in the morning and hunt for work. And if it’s was McDonald’s we didn’t care because we had to start somewhereintime. We didn’t expect 20 hr for doing nothing basically. You want more than that get your ass back to school or get a trade. And And none of this shit I don’t have money to go or you guys didn’t save for me to go. My kids both did loans or mature student loans cause we didn’t have money to put them through school band neither didn’t most our friends for their kids” so throw your kids clothes back in their room shut the door and when they have nothing to wear they either wash it or start wearing dirty clothes end of story they aren’t babies and have to arms and legs. As for eatin they get one plate one cup and cutlery. If they want to eat they have to wash their own 4 dishes. If you’re kid has a fit over those w2 simple things then you basically have raised a narcissistically entitled entitled bra,
S. Bull and also Tanya — If there is going to be any fix with a child who refuses to cooperate, the only hope is in validating the not-so-subtle signs of anger. An angry child deserves a hearing, deserves to be taken seriously when he or she is expressing open anger, non-compliance, or seeming desire to be gone.
I always recommend parental apology. First, you may have to take a good, long look at self and see where maybe there could have been better days, methods, etc., then you have to say to the older child, “I can see something here is wrong and I want to talk. I know I’m not perfect and I’ve done hurtful things, but I want to do better. Tell me what you wish I would change first.” Keep this up, b/c it is seemingly easier to some people to just pretend all is well, but actually be in denial, while at the the same time, acting out as if everything is all wrong. Kids! (And don’t we also do this on the job, sometimes?)
Having a date time with the non-compliant child also helps. Fine–let her be sullen, but do go for ice cream or a movie together and plan awesome things like canoing or even hiking so the family gets wet or messy or starving or some other human condition–together. Doesn’t have to be expensive, just grounded in our common humanity. My folks used to love taking us out to a local park for cooking breakfast over an open fire. Nuts, they were, but some of my fave memories. The wounded child needs these events. Even if normalizing never seems to happen, even if they eventually leave angry, they will remember the goofy times, the warm ways you eventually did try. You will be filling the hole you’ve made in their lives a little, giving them something in the “family” bank to draw from, forever.
No matter how old you are, you always benefit from being acknowledged as important, being loved, being hugged. Being asked your opinion to a question teaches people to think and have conversations of what they think. Together time is important — so much can be shar3d on a walk or a ca trip.
Start in your home. I decorated a box and placed it inside the front door. My home has become a ‘no phone zone’ unless I say otherwise. Guests included. I became fed up with having a cup of tea w someone and they spend most of the visit on the phone instead of visiting. It was difficult at first with lots of huffing and puffing but amazing results. When they were in school we had a ‘ no screens’ policy during the school week. Worked for us
Nance Dugger says
Colleen,that’s a beautiful idea !!
Dosn’t Work when schools require them to have laptops and chrome books to do their homework on. I try to take away the electronics but they need them for school work and studying. Their text books are all online now. I wish they would allow for paper and pencils again to do homework.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Yes, we are in the same boat. I just control what I can… 🙂
What a wonderful idea! My child would “die” if I did this, haha, but I might actually get to see the front of his face instead of the top of his head!! I am convinced these kids are going to have major neck, wrist, and hand problems down the road. Probably eye issues and possibly seizure issues too.
Thats when they need you the most. Even if small conversations. Keep lines open.
As a young adult, it says a lot to me when a person, especially my parent, wants to do something with me without electronics. Start by having electronic free outings with your young adult child. Go out to dinner and leave the phones in the glove box. Go out to do something they love and leave the phone behind.
As you do this more and more, they will follow your example.
talk to them. Educate them on making smart decisions about how they use their time and what too much facebook ad such can do to your mood. Honestly, I think they sometimes listen better when they know it’s adult-to-adult and it’s their choice to think about it and decide how to act on it. When their still at home, dealing with rules, they feel more compelled to roll their eyes and rebel.
Never to late to hug.
Hugs in passing all day. Make sure they or you go say goodnight…every night.
My spouse kicked me out when 3 of my kids were teenagers and replaced me with an evil stepmom. I was heartbroken because I knew that I would not have influence over them on a daily basis. They are all adults now and I can tell you that I have influence now. Why? Because each of them knows that I love them deeply and unconditionally. They confide in me in times of difficulty and return that love. So in short, it’s never too late to develop an unconditional, loving relationship with your kids. If you build a relationship of love, respect, and trust, they will listen to you and always respect your opinion. It is the most valuable blessing we as parents can possibly achieve.
My husband was never hugged during his years living at home and then boarding school. It wasn’t until he moved to Hawaii that he experienced hugs from friends. He decided to hug his dad for the first time when he saw him and his dad was a bit startled but after a few times, it became second nature and you could see he appreciated it.
This was a very valuable read!! Thx!!
Value , we need more if it and having articles such as this can help one see , that when we change the way we look at things , the things we have been looking at , truly do and will change…
Children are being raised without God they don,t know anything about Him or worship Him. Therefore you are going to have big problems . Children love to talk and know all aboutGod. This has to be our first priority in raising God.
I have to agree that God is the important ingredient we have taken away from our children. We have taken God and Jesus out of every part of a child’s life (and given them a cell phone). How can we expect our children to feel loved and secure? Besides parents being digitally distracted, the media is full of horror that is not fit for any one, no matter what age, to witness. We have become desensitized and unfortunately the things we expose ourselves to are enough to make one mentally unstable. Where can an adult turn, let alone a child, when bad things happen? No bedtime rules? No self-discipline. The Bible is the best teacher on how to live, because it was inspired by the loving and living creator. If there is a depression epidemic, read the Bible verses hat tell us that in times of trouble we are to rely on God’s strength. For example, the Bible warns against not getting rest, feeding the mind with evil, saying that these things will have adverse effects. The Bible says that no good thing will be withheld from those who follow Christ. We are spirit, and I believe that other religions and faiths in a loving God can also nurture people make them strong and bring them true joy. The Bible warns that too much of a good thing is bad for us. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness” (Proverbs 5:23)
The good news is that it’s never too late!
Pauline Marshall says
I am a mother,grand mother and great grandmother and my working secular profession is a nurse, a Early Childhood teacher and instructor and was and remain very grateful for all these wonderful helpful and learning experience’s however with this there is one ingredient that was of the utmost important wa sand is that of my belief and experience I have and required was my faith in God and the Bible which is the best educational and spiritual tool with all knowledge and human Science’s needed .therefore I totally agree with what Cheryl who so apply shared in her comment.
Alton Jones says
Amen,,,,parents do all of this talking about spending time and doing things as a. family,,,if they really want to spend some quality time get there kids and themselves in a good faith based, Bible believing and preaching church…a once them and there kids come to know theLord as there personal Savior, then they will know what true love is…..
Lori Owen says
I do believe that God is a very important to our children’s lives. Other wise we may loose them completely to the sins of the world.
Seriously? God has nothing to do with it. It’s all about the choices we make… the bible is a great work of fiction written by men.
Thank you very much for your kind advice.
Linda Kirkpatrick says
I love this. I have a nonprofit Family Patterns Matter. This is what we address and discuss with our youth. They are the ambassador who can with the right tools from adults in their life bring change with their peers.
YeS! I fully agree with you and the article saying put down the electronics! YES, communicate face to face & voice to voice~relationship!
Paulette DiPiazza says
The one thing that always makes me wonder is kids saying they are bored. I was never bored, If I had free time I’d find something to do like read, a real book. We got told to go out and play when we got home from school, and that was interacting with all the kids in the neighborhood. After dinner was homework time, then bath and bed. We had chores on Saturday, and they had to be done. There were a few of us who went to the first persons house and do her chores, then moved on to the second person. But I had time with my Mom, drying dishes as she washed, lol. We went to church and Sunday school every Sunday. Our Mom’s didn’t work tho, Mom working has added a whole new wrinkle. And yet I still I suffered depression and still do.
You nailed this right on the head
I Absolutely agree with all that you say! However, I see a huge breakdown of this loving, supportive interaction pattern as children become teens and develop a mind of their own. This stage is always challenging for us parents, and it is sometimes hard to see how much our teens still need hugs, words of encouragement, and a curiosity from parents as to how they view things. Parents find it hard to shift from being in charge of everything to gradually letting their teen have a say in what they do. I think that being loving, understanding, and listening to your kid is just as important–maybe moreso–than when they are younger. Good parents hold their ground on rules and policies that keep their teens safe, while still opening up these topics for discussion in order to foster mutual understanding, love, and respect for each other.
B.J. Meurer says
Wow and thank you for this article! Much of what you wrote here is what is leading me to start Little Rooted Minds. We need families to wake up and realize they need to step in and do things differently because the impact is so harmful to their kids.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
It’s so true.
Toni vertucci says
This gives me hope. Finally some one that agrees with me and is willing to share it. If we don’t start making changes were destined to fail. Parents should stop buying them. There excellent baby sitters,but crave the human touch.
Michelle Norman says
Thank you soo much…i have 3 kids, aged 13, 11, 6. Two boys and a girl, this really helped me alot.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
I’m so glad. Thanks!
Agreed! I really needed to read this. While my kids don’t have electronics, and I homeschool, I still sometimes struggle with structuring our day, and I know that is important in setting limits/boundaries. I will for sure make a note of these things. Kids need chores and responsibilities, even though sometimes they don’t act like it. <3
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
I’m sure that has to be hard. I completely agree. 🙂
Thanks for the note, Amber.
Thank you for this. As a mother of 3, with a niece who took her own life, this scares me so much right now…. esp with an ex who doesn’t seem to acknowledge any of the points you raise. When on his time, they get unlimited screen and minimal quality time with him. How would you advise to deal in that case (NB: this is a high-conflict separation and he is so bitter, that nothing I do/say would be taken as being for the kids; in his eyes, it’s just about me)?
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
OH no, Ruth. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t even begin to understand how hard that had to have been. I would say that you just need to make the time with you matter all the more, so if they have an issue, they know to come to you.
When parents have conflicting ideals it is never very easy. Thankfully your children have a chance to compare and contrast and will most certainly benefit from less screen time when they are with you. Please don’t waste any energy on trying to get their dad to change. Have your children read articles like this one, CNN reports about the cons of too much screen time etc… and they will start policing themselves!
Ruth. Oh how your heart must be breaking! I am so sorry about all this.
It is super important that you make your understanding of a healthy life clear to your children. The “no phones” box is a great idea. You might need a lock for it though.
As your children migrate back and forth from an angry, irresponsible dad, to a loving, firm mom, they will begin to see the wisdom, the difference, and to appreciate it. They should not be allowed to use their phones except in your presence, b/c angry dads like to call during mom time. It has to be a rule. Especially at night while everyone sleeps but them. Sadly.
But in firmness, there is room for smiles and laughs. It’s hard not to frown and holler, but smiling firmness, followed by excitement over whatever is next on the agenda, will be a memory they can draw from as they choose their own lifestyles eventually. And do plan the precious times you have with them. No time for wasting! Whether you color together, picnic, ride bikes, play Monopoly, or whatever you lead them into, make it quality they can appreciate and remember fondly when they are at the angry place. And do allow downtime, too. Find great books or classic movies that they can all snuggle down with and enjoy together. And do goofy fun things. Like roast marshmallows over the stove in the kitchen. or rearrange the living room in some nutty way or whatever. Make laughter happen. It’s good medicine.
Barry Minster says
Some great points. Unfortunately, we live in a world where discomfort is sometimes considered abuse. If the child had not made lunch AND had decided not to spend their money to buy their own lunch, there may have been some well intentioned person that made the leap in logic to say that the child was being neglected.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Yep- that’s the hard part of it. In the end, I would have caved because I wouldn’t want him to go without food. 🙁 (Shhh… don’t tell him that “I would have caved” part!)
I just had this happen with my daughter who has been distracted when getting ready. I did make her use some of her money, but I split it with her. It still taught her a lesson, but she knew I was helping and cared too. Unfortunately, our school district is too child friendly sometimes (if that makes sense?). I made her buy lunch recently because she was late downstairs and we didn’t have time to pack and I got a call from the school asking if I would be able to drop off a lunch for her instead because she did not like the school lunch that day. I work. They know I work and was already in the office. Makes the parent’s job very hard without support from the “village!”
I can totally relate. I get ZERO support from this village, and often times wonder where the adults are who enable this behaviour?.
Barb K says
I read this comment to my teacher-spouse. He said that at the elementary school where he teaches, it is REQUIRED they allow the child to phone the parent concerning food. Not all teachers or other school personnel may agree with this rule, but must follow it. Perhaps the child should make lunch the night before while dinner is being prepared. This was my mom’s solution, back in the day, when I had difficulty getting myself and my lunch out the door on time.
Becky, I look for ideas like yours with the lunch issue to help my kids feel some responsibility. There is a book called “The Difficult Child” by Stanley Turecki, MD. He offers a similar solution in his book, with a story from a mom, so that the child’s “problem” doesn’t become the parent’s problem. The child in the book was a middle-schooler who wouldn’t get up to go to school. The mom set it up with the principal of the school beforehand, and told the child the car was leaving for school at the normal time and no matter how ready he was for school, he had to be in that car. He wasn’t dressed for school (but the mom had some clothes in the car) and the principal knew this might happen, so calmly told the child he better go change out of his pjs. It worked — the child didn’t have a problem getting up in time to get ready for school after that. I like these ideas so the child can feel some sense of responsibility and ownership, and I think it helps them feel more confidence, too; they don’t always have to rely on a parent, they can do it themselves! And it’s good for the parents, too, as it helps us have a healthier relationship with our kids as we try to raise them to be self-sufficient adults. But they know they can count on our support at the same time. And it is important, as Kimberly pointed out, that the school is understanding and cooperative about parents trying to teach their kids life lessons.
I love that book, “The Difficult Child”. By Stanley Turecki. It’s a horrible name for a book, but such helpful positive info inside for how to help make good out of difficult traits in your children! Highly recommended!
Chris Veech says
Growing up my mom had us pack our lunches daily starting in 3rd grade and I did the same with my 3 boys. If they occasionally forgot to make it or bring it they SURVIVED just fine. They figured out that their mom was not a lunch taxi cab. They also figured out that their friends would share a half sandwich, their chips or an apple with them. Or my kids would walk over to the table in the cafeteria where kids could put food they weren’t going to eat instead of throwing it away, and other kids could eat it. They are all now recent college grads and very independent and well adjusted young men who have great jobs and their own apartments.
I hear too much of this.
I agree, Barry. I’d told my son to put his coat where it belonged. Later on, when he hadn’t, I told him if he didn’t put it in its spot and couldn’t find it in the morning, he’d have to go to school without one. Sure enough, he couldn’t find it and went without. The carpool driver that day, dropped the kids off at school, then went back home to home get him one of her son’s. She called him out of class (this was years ago) and gave him the coat because she felt sorry for him.
We live in a warm climate and if it’s a certain temperature, the kids don’t go outside.
When she called me later to tell me about it she started off saying, “This was probably a learning lesson, but,,,” and told me the story. She didn’t want him to be cold.
I was so upset. This was a mother who did her kids’ homework when they were too tired to do it.
Joyce Hargrove says
I just finished teaching a class on Positive Guidance, and my class touched on many of the points you listed in the article. With my students being in their late teens and early twenties, the topic of cyber bullying is a major concern to them. They have witnessed it and many have dealt with it. It is truly alarming! Not long ago, I was in a restaurant with three friends. A nice looking family came in and were seated in a booth adjacent to us. This family, parents and children, each got out their cell phones or IPad and NEVER conversed! They only talked when the waitress took their order. Even more scary was when they continued to be engrossed in the electronics once their food arrived. We never saw them talk to each other. As a grandmother to six children, I understand how it can be in a restaurant when the wait for the food order becomes long. Also as a mother and an early childhood educator I see the importance of teaching social skills and manners when in a restaurant. I just hope and pray that families grasp the issue of how detrimental technology can be to the overall social and emotional development of children. To be honest, I totally dislike social media and truly think this has been a major breakdown in relationships rather that building relationships up. After all, why talk to one another when you can read it all anyway? And with social media, there is often no filter on what is stated. It is just sad to me! Thanks for your article. I plan to forward the link on to my students and the parents of my grandchildren.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Thanks for the comment, Joyce.
Alisan Greeff says
A suggestion about the restaurant – we often take a game to play whilst waiting for the food to arrive.
Mary Anne says
Joyce, As a 70 year old grandmother of 5 grandchildren I totally agree with your views! I always wonder why parents of children age 16 and under would let their children become addicted to a smartphone. I believe if they need a cellphone, just purchase a no contract phone , like Tracfone, and use it for just outgoing/ receiving calls when away from the home. Upon returning home, they turn in the cellphone until they go out again. No texting, no social media, no internet, no games.
If the child needs to email, etc.,then have them use an iPad, or the home computer under parental guidance.
We grandparents see the writing on the wall…we can only be advocates for our grandchildren and try to be there for them and hope and pray for their survival in this fast paced, impersonal environment they are growing up in. I will not be around in 30 years to see how detrimental the age of technology will be on their physical and mental well being……how it will effect their brains, their posture and their fingers/ hands…..Thank you Becky for the wonderful informative subject matter…I 100% agree with everything!
Gob Bless our children…..Children Come First!
I have high schoolers, a freshman and a junior. I’d love to take away all electronics in the evening but nowadays 90% of their homework requires use of an electronic. Whether it’s accessing the teacher’s page for his/her online assignment, use of chats to do group projects with kids not in your neighborhood, or just typing up the report on paper, there is the forced need for electronics access. It drives me nuts! And it doesn’t help. I agree so much with these findings. The times my kids are off in their quiet rooms for homework is when they need less electronic access but if I take stuff away, they can’t complete their homework.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Yes- our son is in 5th grade and ALL of his work is online. He literally has NO books. I can’t stand it. 🙁 His eyes have to hurt by the end of the day.
Lynne O'Luanaigh says
There was an interesting study done comparing textbooks on electronics to paper textbooks. Students loved the electronic textbooks and thought they were reading faster and learning more but the study showed there was a significant difference in reading comprehension. Students did much better with paper textbooks rather than their electronic counterparts.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Oh – if you ever find it, send me my way. I’d love to read it.
Our kids do all homework requiring Electronics at the dining table where we can monitor their activity. No Electronics allowed in their rooms. This way, we know it is purely school work and nothing else.
I totally agree! Having schoolbooks I’m& homework on line is very bothersome as you can’t be watching over your teen every minute which means they can be gaming or skyping while doing their home work and you won’t know. Even if you know what they are up to it’s hard to limit unless you start wiping their computer or iPad clean every day which is unrealistic these days. 🙁
Linda Wilson says
Love your article.
Have you heard about Brad Huddleston, Digital Cocaine. Please look it up, our school had him come speak 2 yrs ago good info
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
No, but I’ll check it out. Thank you.
Totally disagree with talking to kids while driving. Wrong wrong wrong. Say hello then go home and talk. Being distracted while driving is dangerous. We lived near a school and had to deal with this on a daily basis.
Katie C says
I love this article especially the part you wrote about you say to your kids, “If you are every feeling sad or left out about something and it becomes too big for you to handle easily, come to me. I want you to know that if you ever hurt yourself, you would be hurting your whole family. My happiness would go away with yours.” My nephew turned to drugs in 2012 and has been a heroine addict since. He has overdosed at least 4 times, last night was one. I think it is so sad that people are not spending time as a family and doing all those things you have listed. Our 11 and 8 yr olds are not allowed to have phones or computers with internet access. They are only allowed minimal tv time through the week, but it doesn’t bother them. They would rather be outside playing or talking or doing game night or crafts. The 11 yr old does not like that she cannot have a phone because “everyone at school has one”, but we have a different way of living and raising our kids. I worry for their future every day!!
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
I am so sorry about your nephew. That has to be so scary. I’m the same way… oh and our eleven year old says the same thing. Just yesterday, while grocery shopping, he said “Mom – everyone at school has a phone.” and I said “Well… not everyone.” lol!! I just remind him that it’s not HIM that I don’t trust… it’s just everything that pops up on the phones & the temptations.
ps- I’ll keep your nephew in my prayers.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Oh my goodness- I’m so sorry. 🙁 If it helps (I’ve never really told anyone this), I had a pretty traumatic experience once & ended up on antidepressants. They really helped. Once I was better (a year or so later, I’d say), I was able to get off of them. It was in college, but I never think of antidepressants the same – they really helped. Plus, it seems like Bri has some pretty great parents that care about her, so I know she is going to get all the help that she needs.
In the meantime, I will pray for her daily. Please keep me posted.
Jess G. says
Hi Becky, Can you remember the name of the medication you used? I’m terrified of anti-depressants because of some of the stories I’ve heard but want to consider them for my son who is struggles with depression. Thank you. And thank you for the great article!
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Oh man- I”m sorry. It was about 18 years ago, so I don’t remember.
Darrell Powell says
This articulates many of the observations and speculations I’ve had over the past 15+ years in youth ministry. Thank you for your work. So helpful.
Please think of the medication as a bridge for your daughter to walk back over to you and her previous life. I have been on medication for depression for 20 years and if I miss a dose I can tell….my mind just starts thinking of really sad things and I withdraw from life. When I take the medication I can think of those same sad things but not become incapacitated by the thoughts. Adolescent and teenage girls’ hormones are changing a lot and it is a critical time for the brain. If she gets the medication now then there may be a possibility that her brain will wire itself in a way that helps control the depression for life. Neurons that fire together will wire together… so if she doesn’t get the medication now then she may set herself up for a lifetime of being prone to depression. The brain does not finish growing until ager 25 so she still has lots of time left. Please get her the medication. And also lots of exercise. lots of exercise. A team sport or individual sport.
I’m very sorry about your situation and glad antidepressants have helped. However, your understanding of antidepressants is off base and I felt it a little alarming to read this advice. I kindly and respectfully disagree. Please read on…
Antidepressants are NOT intended to be long-term (as you said, they are a “bridge”). To put it simply, your brain by design exchanges chemicals for “normal” functioning. When we’re depressed, the brain is exchanging less of our “happy” chemicals. When this is long-term and you seek advice from a medical doctor they often default to prescribing “Antidepressants”. This is supposed to be a short-term solution that serves as a “crutch” if you will , and provides the brain the “happy chemicals” it was not making itself.
Take note – when you’re depressed, *most of the time* there are reasons. Your brain is CAPABLE of producing its own “happy” chemicals. It simply is not when we’re depressed right?
When you take Antidepressants, you are providing the brain the “happy” chemicals it did not have enough of. Dangerously, if you stay on these medications, your brain will STOP producing it’s own “happy” chemicals because it no longer needs to. Your pills are doing that for it, right?
Just like when a walking person must be in a wheelchair. If it’s Long-term, what happens to the legs? They atrophy (wear away) right? Perhaps the arms pushing the wheelchair become incredibly strong and disproportionately developed. The body and brain are designed to survive and adapt.
This is when the process evolves into someone being essentially ‘trapped’ on the medication for “20 years” and cannot get off the drug. Like you said, when you miss a dose you go back to depression. That’s exactly what happened to you unfortunately and it’s very common.
The brain does indeed “wire together” and Antidepressants trained your brain to not need to produces it’s own “happy” chemicals. It’s extremely difficult if not impossible for people long-term to stop taking Antidepressants.
Please be aware antidepressants are to be a SHORT TERM ASSIST and should not be a front-end treatment unless absolutely necessary. Seek actual therapy to address the source(s) of issues and work on healing (Talk therapy, art therapy-great for kids).
This coupled with seeing a naturopathic doctor (or have your MD run panels) to get the body in check (why not?). Taking a combination of yoga,meditation, equine therapy and/or Neurofeedback while doing talk therapy. My kids do these practices and see a play therapist as an outlet for issues beyond my ability to help with. I’m trained in psychology and nearly all these other modalities. They are all nothing more than brain training exercises and 100% of them are proven effective against depression. There is substantial research on the effectiveness of mindfulness and meditation (& yoga) on depression.
Medications are generally intended to “suppress”. Talk therapy & the other modalities mentioned are designed to “bring it all up” and manage it. A *quality* therapist coupled with adjuct healing modalities will open space for the deep core issues to surface (not be forever trapped as trauma).
It is not easy, remember as parents to take care of yourselves too. With Love…
As someone who has had severe depression for my whole life, I have had continuous, exercise and talk therapy. No medications have worked ( I’m now 36 with a toddler of my own). Everyone is different. Everyone. I have had to realize that there are MOMENTS of happiness and have had to teach myself to be “happy”.If, by chance, my daughter has this genetically passed to her,(I do everything in my power to raise her correctly and with lots of guidance and love) but if she ends up on an antidepressant the only thing I’m worried about is if she’s happy. Unfortunately, we lost my husband and of course her father when she was just 7 months and me 34, so I’m worried not having her dad will affect her for life. I tell her that I am both mommy and daddy, but her daddy can always see her and protect her. It’s hard to handle with a near 4 year old. My point being, antidepressants aren’t the devil. Some may need as a bridge and some for life. If the person is happy; what does it matter?
Love and light,
Very well said Gina. Everyone’s body is different and everyone’s brain reacts differently. My now 16 yo son tried to commit suicide almost two years ago (April 19th) and after hospitalization, medication and Lots and lots of therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, we are just now beginning to see the happy, self confident, outgoing, goal oriented and funny kid that he used to be. No, I did not want him to have to start antidepressants at 14 yo. However, I would do ANYTHING to help him from going back to where he was mentally 2 years ago. NO parent should ever have to go through the nightmare that we’ve experienced. I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy what my son went through and has been through in the past two years. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t relive the night of April 19, 2016 in my head and my heart. If he has to remain on antidepressants for the rest of his life, I am now ok with that fact. Hearing his dr and his therapist tell us for the past two months that they see no signs of suicidal thoughts/ideations and that in session and between sessions he is continuing to work hard on using the skills that he’s learned to cope when the depression tries to creep back into his brain, was like God saying to me, “I got this and he’s going to be ok mom”. I still find it difficult to not hold my breath24/7, to not continuously stress, and to relax and enjoy his ‘new-old self’ , however, my heart swells when he comes in the room and he’s laughing and telling jokes and picking on me and he says, “Mom, stop being so serious and have some fun”. I’ll probably always have a little guard up and my radars in tune where he’s concerned but at least we have the help of his wonderful dr and therapist at anytime that I need reassurance.
The meds he is on are Provil 40 mg every morning and Buspar 30 mg 3 x a day and he’s also on Neurontin 600 mg at night to help with sleep, depression and restless leg.
God bless each parent reading this and remember our children are gifts that God entrusted us with and He intended for them to be a top priority in our lives only behind Himself and our spouse.
Thanks for the great article. I have an almost 8 year old and I’m convicted about my time on the phone. It’s an easy distraction. I like the idea of parents having to put down the screen when the kids are home. We do limit screen time for her, however, I don’t think enough.
I know this is going to be a contraversial statement, because I do believe that the phone world we all live in can isolate us (and I love and use my iphone just as much as anyone). I also feel that in this day and age children and young adults are not brought up with a belief in God as much as generations past. Children do not have groups of people outside of school to support them (whether that is at a church, synagogue, mosque, etc), nor do they have faith that there is a God out there who loves them unconditionally and will help them get through tough times. We teach our children now (me included) to power up and add more stressful layers to their lives- accelerated school classes, sports, academic activities, community service, but rarely do we tell them to let go of the things that they don’t mentally need.
Thanks for adding that comment to this important discussion! I also feel it’s an integral part of raising healthy kids. We’ve been through 3.5 years of struggle with our daughter. Things started going bad at the end of her 8th grade year. I needed a belief that God was there and had a plan for us, even in this painful and frightening time just as much as she did!!
Love this article! Even with all we’ve been through, I have to remind myself and our kids time and time again about our screen time!!
Very well said Kristin
This article really makes me think about my own actions! My daughters are still small but I don’t want to give the wrong example with being on my smartphone all the time.
Get the book nutrient power by William Walsh to learn about using targeted nutrient therapy for depression and related issues. Mensah Medical has 2 wonderful doctors who do this – and info for teens regarding nutrient therapy. They treated our son with fantastic results – no meds. They are the future – definitely look them up!
Misty Wiliams says
Thank you for sharing this!
Last year around March I watched a Netflix show called 13 Reasons Why.
It changed my life!
My eldest is 9, but I started looking at the teen youth in my church and consciously reached out, and began tutoring and mentoring… I know for a fact one didn’t commit suicide because “someone” listened…
psychotherapy can help her learn coping skills and bring her smile back!
Jill, I’m thinking that would be better defined as cognitive behavioral therapy. Learning effective ways to cope. Learning is cognitive and ways to cope are behavior. It’s the only type of treatment I would personally recommend.
I used cognitive behavioral counseling with a lot of my clients when I was still doing counseling. Many ppl are skeptical at first but it really does help if you learn new coping skills and APPLY them. They are skills that can be individualized to any age group and can be anything from talking to journaling to going fishing to meditation. The most important factor is that the individual USE the skills after they determine they are helpful. The skills can be used in coping with depression, anger, sadness, addiction and even pain. Everyone could use a little CBT in their lives.
William Lasseter says
Great article. Do you have a print only version without all the graphics and videos? That would be greatly appreciated. I hope to pass the article on to parents at our school – giving all credit to you of course.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
I don’t – sorry.
Love the article! I agree with and do most all of what you are recommending, but I was hoping to be able to print it for my teenage boys so they could see that it is not just their crazy mother that is pushing this idea. However, the only option you have is for me to send it to them electronically….no “Print” button. Seems a bit contrary to what this is about. I will try to copy and print and hope that it works. My boys spend more time than I would like on devices be it phones, Xbox, computer, etc so we are always having to revisit this…. It is also very hard to get them to understand why we want them to do something else….I think their life depends on it more than we realize.
Wow… so many important and essential tools in raising emotionally healthy confident children. I was very impressed by the guidance in your article. Thank you!
Is it possible to print the article without all the ads and extras? Especially the idea list of “So What Can We Do About It?” I am an elementary technology teacher and think this could be valuable information to share with parents. Although I love using technology as a tool for learning, creating, and sharing ideas it is important to notice how it has impacted our daily lives.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Just copy what you want & Paste it to a word document. 🙂
I teach 4th grade and I’m seeing more social-emotional needs from our students. They are seeking so much attention at school because I believe they don’t get it at home. It’s not just our students that come from poverty it’s all kids. I’m guilty of checking my phone, e-mails, seesaw, google classroom at night when my kids are home but I try and not do anything from 4-8:30. I’m also a classroom with one to one iPads but we use our iPads as an educational tool not a babysitter. In fact, I have one math game on my student iPads. I loved your article and want to share with my parents because it’s becoming so scary and we as teachers can’t teach the academic part and social-emotional.
Really great article! I really love what you wrote:
“If you are every feeling sad or left out about something and it becomes too big for you to handle easily, come to me. I want you to know that if you ever hurt yourself, you would be hurting your whole family. My happiness would go away with yours.”
It’s a very simple, yet powerful message. It’s hard to imagine where these stats will be when my two year old is a tween.
This article is very good. What l find a is a great way to overcome some of this. I find getting kids involved in sports or other activities helps with the technology phase. My kids and now my grandkids are involved in sports and other activities so instead of constantly being on a phone or Ipad. My grandkids would rather be outside than in the house because of their other activities. I know this isn’t something that all kids will do but it is one way to keep kids from being in the house and isolated. Parents need to be aware of their children and know their different moods and that will help them. My grandkids also hate bullies and they would be the first ones to stand up for the child being bullied.
Add on to the list of what to do about it-spend time outside! Nature is an amazing prevention and cure!
Peter Silverman says
I saw a woman carrying a two year old and talking on the phone. She said, do you want talk (to who she was talking to.) The child said, No Mommy, I want to talk to YOU.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Oh man- that makes me so sad. 🙁
I would say that the first two graphs could have something to do with the now infamous no Child left behind act which started in 2002, requiring children to accomplish more and more homework than they ever have in history. This is also when childhood rates of depression and suicide started drastically increasing. The third graph, about children feeling lonely, could also have something to do with their parents being on their phones so much and ignoring them. I propose that the answer to these problems lies in focusing less on how technology is ruining our children’s lives to focusing more on the critical importance of parents being more present for their children combined with letting children have more freedom, autonomy, and control over their own lives.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
I completely agree (parents on electronics & lack of free-time for kids) that those would have a huge contributing factor.
I think you’re onto something with the autonomy and control idea! I was homeschooled for several years, and I was stunned as I watched my friends and peers in public schools live days (and lives, really) that were totally planned out by someone else. Starting about when I was in 9th grade, I sat down with my mom and determined what classes I needed to take each semester to get accepted to NC State or a comparable college (which I later was). My other classes were largely up to me, and I designed self-study programs in art, music, and physical education. The upshot? When I got to college, I was already prepared to plan my own schedule, manage my time, and chart my course. Now, working as a community journalist at 20 years old, I’m completely comfortable scheduling my work, interacting with professionals and government and law enforcement officials decades older than myself on a daily basis, and handling responsibility with little day-to-day supervision.
I love your reminder about letting them have unstructured time and time to become bored. However, I struggle with a polite way to tell my daughter to “go play by herself.” If there’s one thing I feel guilty about, it’s when I tell her she needs to go play. If I’m not entertaining her or allowing her to watch TV, she is completely on top of me/underfoot and getting into everything she’s not supposed to. She does not play well by herself, and I always feel “mean” after I ask her to go play by herself.. Any tips? Or other ways to relay the message?
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
It is hard & I often feel guilty, too, but I say “I’m going to do (laundry, the dishes)… why don’t you go play with your princesses (she has a princess castle that she loves) and when we’re both done, we can go on a ___ (walk, on the swings).”
What about asking your child to help you with whatever chore you’re involved in? “I would love to have you help me sort the laundry/unload the dishwasher/set the table!” Then after you finish the chore take 5-10 minutes to do something chosen by the child (we like to read a book). I’ve discovered little jobs that each of our children like/don’t mind doing this way. I love that we can chat while accomplishing something that needs to be done. My six year old loves to wipe down cabinets, counters, etc. She can work on that while I chop veggies for dinner. We also have some easy-to-get-out-and-clean-up art projects that the kids can sit at the counter and do while I make dinner, pay bills, etc. (Perler beads are a fave around here!).
Great article now go onto the Melissa and Doug website. We have a Take Back Childhood mission. Read about our mission it sounds very similar to what your talking about. Melissa is very passionate about our mission and has a blog written about what’s happening to the children of today and the toys we manufacture to help children! Our hope is we can bring back childhood the way it used to be and that parents understand boredom is actually a good thing in a child’s life.
Betty Drobny says
I have always wondered about the influences of day care, both parents working, unlimited TV, no rules, now constant messaging even when the kids are within talking distance. Speaking of distance, that is what has become of our children-they are being distanced from all that is human feelings. Now I have the answer and it is unsettling and predictable.
Betty…two parent working families does not mean umlimited electronics and no rules. And daycare was wonderful for my extremely extroverted kid. We were lucky to have some balance with me working part time, but it is entirely possible to have good family values with working parents.
If these effects were the result of a product that came out of a bottle it would be illegal and the company that made it would be sued. But, they put the word “smart” in the name and everyone fell for it.
Thankfully our teenager has absolutely no desire to have a social media account. He has a phone but only searches for memes or youtube videos about WWII or world history. We monitor what he is searching online regularly and encourage actual ‘friend’ time. We have friends over often so they can have human interaction like we were built to do.
This article is spot on … and it’s the main reason we’ve not let him get too involved with anything online.
I read many articles – this one resonates more with me than anything else I have read – as an educationalist and parent I completely agree. We all need to take action and share this message and advice.
Jamie | Medium Sized Family says
One of the hardest part of parenting kids in middle school is the knowledge that all of their friends are online. So if I want my kids to connect with their buddies, they’re going to do it through an Xbox Live game or on a football app. While I’d like to remove these things from their lives, I think it’s important to find a balance. So I’m that mean Mom that makes them turn it off after 30 minutes and go outside.
And boy, do I agree on telling them to go play. People are amazed at how “well behaved” my boys are, but I attribute it to expecting them to amuse themselves from a young age. It’s not my job to be your entertainment center. (Which is not the same thing as spending time connecting as a family!) This is such an important article. Thanks for writing it.
It’s a scary world with too many young people feeling low….sometimes with no apparent reason….sometimes overprotection. I am guilty of this, trying to give my beautiful funny intelligent daughter the life I never had which appears to have backfired. Your statement is true about hurting the family as it feels like she cuts me every time she cuts herself.
She was 12 the very first time and did it with a friend so they could be ‘officially emos’ – 7 years later it has become a go to in times of stress (sometimes daily/sometimes weekly) and most definitely a habit. My lovely daughter appears happy and confident and has friendships. She always had a balanced access to social media. I sourced access to different therapies as i wotk with young people so now very skilled and well read particuarly in tbis area. However, sometimes you are just too close and emotionally involved.
She was recently given medication (last year) and the contraceptive pill at 15 then the implant at 16 – in the hope it was a hormonal issue. She says she is happy and feels she can talk to me but if not she has other options in her friends and family. She has always had a huge amount of love from my partner and I and family and close friends and i believe we have been good parents so we ard very close….. but she still cuts her beautiful body.
It breaks my heart but i must resspect her decisions to do this as she is now a young adult. I leave the communications open and ensure she has medical supplies and she knows i love her unconditionally.
I am frightened what happens when she runs out of places to cut. If only love was the answer to everything 😦
*she does have a name but I am keeping her privacy so apologise for the her/she throughout.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Oh my goodness- I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say, honestly, except that I hope she finds the help that she needs and I will keep you both in my prayers. So true- if only love was the answer to everything.
Karen J. says
Hey Claire, not sure if you’ll get this message. But your daughter is the same I was. Happy, full of life and friendships and active but still cut herself. It was an addiction and not one that medication could cure. I had (and still have) clinical depression but was high functioning, which it sounds like your daughter is as well. What stopped me from cutting was my mother sitting me down at a table to talk and out of no where she brings out a knife and puts it to her arm. She didn’t cut, but she asked me how it made me feel to see her like that? And obviously it felt painful. She explained that that’s how I was making her feel and I stopped. It wasn’t easy to stop but I didn’t want my mother to hurt. I’m not sure if you’ll choose this method, but it worked for me. I’m extremely empathetic so I understood right away what my mother was feeling. I hope this information helps you and your beautiful daughter. Wish you both all the best. <3
the article is spot on. I was lucky, or had the foresight – to raise my kids with plenty of outdoor activities, sports, etc. we had a trampoline and zip line outside, and a pool table inside. they have phones, and game stations, etc., but were not allowed on them at free will. when they were younger I refused to have cable TV so they were not tempted to lay around and watch it all day. we rented movies on the weekend – otherwise it was sports and family time. Using positive reinforcement and requiring chores of them always. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “but other kids parents don’t make them do this” – and to that I said “well then they aren’t doing a good job” My kids are grown now – successful college students who are leaders. Captains of sports teams, honor students, and well adjusted young adults. I feel very blessed and hope that parents recognize the need to PARENT their kids. Take time, this is your most important job and it needs your full investment.
One Thanksgiving I met my family at the door and as I greeted each one, I requested the cell phone go in a basket. The shocked faces on the children I expected but not the hateful remarks from the adults . No one was telling them they had to give up their smartphone . Our relationship has never been the same.
My only issue here is that some of the members of your family have other families as well. When I go to my husband’s side of the family, it would offend me if someone told me to give up my phone. I’m already giving up the day with them, and I would not want to also give up the chance to see pics or get texts from them on a holiday. It’s not easy to not be with those you love.
Along with the many alarming things you brought to our attention is the easy access to harmful material such as pornography. Even if your child doesn’t have a phone or has a phone with great filters, other children do and can introduce our children to things that will change their lives at a very young age. This happened to one of my daughters at the age of 9. I didn’t find out for several years later after she had seen some horrifying things and had predators in contact with her. SO SCARY!!! She is now 13 going on 20 and is in counseling. I’ve since learned that this isn’t out of the ordinary these days. That knowledge is very sobering and beyond sad. I share this so other parents and caregivers can be aware of this danger.
Terry Lubrick says
Depression can also develop into schizoaffective disorder and it takes careful medical and social treatment to get back our loved one. Money and opportunity isn’t always there from the professionals and family members to bring our “loved one” back to reality.
When did Facebook become prominent? That is the real cause IMO. The phone simply provides the access to it. Get your kids and families off FB and many problems will be solved. At a minimum, insist on ONE Family account that everyone uses.
Very interesting article. I feel I’m very lucky after reading this. My children have had smartphones since they were 17. They have both graduated college with bachelors degrees. They both have great jobs and seem quite happy with their lives. I don’t think their smartphones in anyway did any damage to them. They are on them a lot but the enjoy them and I just don’t see any harm in owning them. And they aren’t going away they will be around for generations to come. I enjoy mine a lot also.
Ciara Brehony says
While I completely agree with everything written in this article, this is only part of the problem. It doesn’t serve anyone to just focus on one aspect and ignore all the others. I would say a significant other part of the problem is school. I’d be interested to see how the increase in pressure to perform in school matches with those graphs? As long as parents allow (and in fact support!) the pressure being put on today’s students, they are just as much part of the problem.
Chris Burr says
Regarding the lunch packing issue, Pinterest has a ton of great ideas of things that can be made on the weekends, and kids can basically ” grab one from column A and one from B and one from column C, so as to make their lunch very quickly. If that doesn’t work for your family, institute that they make their lunch the night before. Eliminates lots of issues.
Start screening at age 11?? My son would have been dead at age 10 if I hadn’t caught it! And it all went back to bullying – by his step mother! If I hadn’t caught it by how he was acting and overheard conversations, I would have lost him. But I got him in with a psychiatrist and then on to a psychologist for several years. His dad and step mother didn’t agree that it was her fault, of course, but we figured out ways to work around them. He went on to serve 9 years on the Marine Corps, has 2 engineering degrees, but finally found his happiness as a police officer. He’s now a step dad to 3 kids, and doing a wonderful job with them!
Nice article and you are not alone. I grew up in the era of go outside and play until mom calls you. We are really strict about electronics. They’ve been told no cell phones until they drive a car. They have many friends their ages (9 & 11) who have them. They are used to hearing us say that we aren’t their parents and this is how it is in our house. Even what they watch on tv is extremely limited and the only video games they play are the occasional approved math building games.
This year has been harder though as my son is in middle school and everything they do is done on a chrome book. We do make him show us his work daily and he has to work on it at our dining room table.
I’m sure plenty of parents think we go overboard but we would rather be safe than sorry. Our kids are also very involved with their respective sports (dance & karate) which are year round and require a lot of dedication. Thanks for sharing.
victoria hernandez says
amazing article really helped me spend more time with my children!
Love this article! I am heading this way with my 3 kids. My kids are 14, 12 and 6. I am introducing your approach slowly and already finding that they are playing a little more together, talking to each other better and getting along a tad better. Baby steps. My concern with this approach, especially with my 14 year old daughter, is that, how with this affect her socially? I have not allowed her to have Facebook, so she already misses out on what goes on there between her peers, but I’m worried she will always be that one step behind her peers socially. I’d love to have my kids grow up the way my generation did, playing in mud, building cubbies and climbing trees, and sending a friend an email and receiving an email every now and then on the weekend was the extent of our social media excitement. We barely watched tv growing up and these days I 100% follow movie ratings, but my kids friends have all seen the latest 15+ movies, are all playing the latest 15+ video games,, are my kids missing out socially because they miss out discussing these movies and games amongst their friends? Do we check our phones for current news every 5 minutes or do we wait until the evening news on tv?
Do we find a balance or do we stick it out? I’m prepared to stick it out and hope it benefits their future.
Amy Locurto says
Great article Becky! I also think video game consoles are as bad or worse than phones. My son would rather stay home and have a “party” online with his friends playing Xbox than go anywhere. This is why I love to travel so much… getting my kids away from home and technology is so important. They meet other kids on our trips in person. It’s like the old days before phones! I know so many pre-teens and teenagers who have NO social skills and will not talk. It’s so odd. I make it a point to get my kids in activities where they have to socialize with others. It’s so important these days for well being and just life lessons in general.
Jerry Percak says
I am a former teacher who faced the fall-out from these issues. Kids faking asleep in class because they had been up until 3 playing video games online, or texting each other. Lack of focus and ambition. Poor social skills. No taking responsibilty because their parents are afraid to be parents. They want to be friends with their kids. They’re your kids! Step up and be a parent and say NO once in a while.
I suggested to the Superintendent that he promote “Tech-free” days at school and at home. It would send a clear message.
Its not just kids that are suffering. As a society, people of all ages are sufferring the same effects. Take a look around you. on the train, at your local Tim Hortons, at the mall…you get the idea. Everyone is staring at their phones. My thirty something boss thinks communication should be over text or slack – short and sweet. No reply necessary. Forget a two way conversation. Technology has degraded communication skills to the point where no one talks or listens…..Yes, the kids today are sufferring, but so too is society overall. The best thing we can do for our kids is to insist that their phones are left in their lockers during the school day so that they are forced to communicate with others face to face. Parents who feel the need to call their kids during classess should put their phones away as well! Call the school office if its an emergency!
Sandra Ellis says
All of this is great advice on what to do. I did all that & continue to. I have 3 17 year olds (twins and a step). My son is depressed and abusing drugs sporadically. Social Media isn’t our issue, but depression is. Nothing can innoculate your family from Mental Illness. Not to say don’t put all these in place, especially meals together and talking in car. Hugs, and don’t release boys until they start to pull away. Get your teens in 2-3 extracurricular activities that are organised and supervised. Let them decide what to do, not you. Stay calm. Kids who aren’t teenagers yet should only do 1-2 activities. Don’t overschedule!! Don’t pressure. Don’t shout. Let them discover their passions. Don’t stress about messy rooms and other unimportant stuff. Tell them you love them frequently. Don’t take their teenage shit personally. And to the author of this piece, there is NO INCREASE in ADHD, there is probably an increase in DIAGNOSIS (which is a good thing). ADHD is NOT a mental illness, it is a condition that is inherent in the brain. It does cause a whole raft of issues because it is not supported by our societies and people who have it often wind up depressed and with anxiety or other mental health issues ( eg drug abuse) because of this, not because of the ADHD — because they are made to feel “less than” by society.
All I can say is that when I watch the Alaskan bush-people subsistence-farmer shows on tv, I’m always floored by how much happier, healthier, and more confident in their abilities than other kids and teens. We’ve become a pretty miserable bunch these days, regardless of age. I think a lot of it is due to ideological intolerance and economic inequality, but technology certainly does seem to have exacerbated things.
Every time I read a post like yours, Becky, I am so, so, so thankful for my incredible parents and all that they sacrificed to raise myself and my siblings in a balanced, healthy way. They got a lot of pushback (much of it from their own kids) when they expected us to help out around the house, get jobs to pay for electronics as teens, and entertain and cook for ourselves. My mom has even faced social pressure for choosing to stay home with us as we grew up instead of pursuing her accounting career further (not the right decision for every family, of course, but I believe it was best for us). All those messy, expensive, irritating, time-consuming decisions sure paid off for myself and my siblings!
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
Thank you!! I love that.
Bassam Twal says
This very important subject, and scary yes , the internet age has robbed the children of their normal growing up process, there is no difference in age to get any information, and they have been targeted by many unsafe parts . No need to repeat what is written by the study authors, but there should be a solution to be adopted by all nations and the United Nations.
Christine Westermark says
We are halfway through an interesting family experiment. We rented our house, packed up what we could each fit into a checked bag and headed out to see the world. Dad works remotely, 2 teens aged 16 and 14 are trying online school and me, (Mom) as the ringmaster. So far, my daughter aged 14, (turning 15 in three weeks), admits the first 2 months she was depressed. Being cut-off from her friends going back to school in Vancouver while we lived in Barcelona was tough. She thought she would loose her friendships if she didn’t keep up her snap chat streaks. We tried to help her as much as possible, but she just needed the detox time. She slept a lot and starting reading books we found in a second hand English bookstore. My son has gone through ups and downs. Sometimes he has immersed himself in the travel experience. Out month in Cambodia was particularly good. Other times he still feels the pull of keeping up with everything and everyone online.
What I know for sure, we got our family back. We sit together each night and eat a meal, sometimes that is cooked by us and other times in restaurants. Because of the timezones, my kids are not even virtually available as much as they used to be. They have a better sense of how shallow being a normal teenager really is, concerned with clothes, technology and celebrity.
We are not a wealthy family. I saved a lot of money from my last year of working in order to prepay as much as possible, (extended health insurance, first flights, etc.) We are attempting to live from my husband’s salary with the same level of expenses as we have back home. That means we cook our own meals, much of the time. The lesson here is that long term travel is possible, it is affordable and it has saved our family.
Wow, this was a profound piece, Becky! I whole-heartedly agree that smartphones & electronics are a demise to our children and the family as a whole. An eye doctor recently said that she has so many cases of kids with eye-strain because of these devices as well. A travel-hostel owner noted in his commons room that instead of interacting with each other, his guests were lost in reading emails and checking their FB status. This is an epidemic and it’s time to take a stand and save not only our kids, but also our humanity.
Scarlet at Family Time Blog says
You are right. It is a scary truth. I know that my daughter was one of the last of her friends to get a cell phone. And still I wonder if it is OK. The truth is it is hard to do no electronics but we do monitor the time spent on the electronics. I am thinking of trying one no electronics day, once a week and seeing what the effect is.
Oh my! I just stumbled across your blog and so happy I did! Ian also a mom of 3 boys and then a girl. The girl I thought I would never have. So grateful for everything but finding myself wanting one more baby. Then I read your article about the void and how many women all the feel the same way. I hope to hear the void goes away. I figured I can’t just keep having children and need to really relish in the blessing I do have 😊
Very true. My kids grew up right when the “cell phone craze” started. They wanted them and were told no. I got that same age old response of “but all my friends have one”. So dont care what your friends have, wben you can buy and pay for the bill than you can get one, until then no.
You also mentioned ADHD. Your percentage I would bet is way off. When my daughter was in first grade, (and she was ADHD at age 4, and very destructive) there was 32 kids in her class. All but 5 kids were either ADHD or ADD. Its only gotten worse since than. If a kid doesn’t learn fast enough they are ADHD, if they move in their seat a little bit they are ADH. If they do not learn as fast as they want they are labled ADHD and the schools want them tested or medicated period. My youngest was that child. Come to find out after several school yrs of major behavior problems (caused by the med the schools insisted on), he wasn’t ADHD, he was dsylexic like I had told them.
The problem is the kids that dont need the ADHD meds are being addicted to them. It is a speed if you are not hyperactive.
I do think that it’s just has to do with the communication and mutual understanding between parents and kids. Maybe some rules like, you can do it no later than 9PM or something.
I played some video games in my childhood too, and that rule keep me from overdoing it.
Hi I’m a child. I really do understand this article. I have to i courage a lot of my friends into school or to be happy at school. People don’t look at the importance of life and the problems that the world is facing. The biggest ptoblem is my phone broke or Instagram has shut down. I’m not saying that I don’t love technology but there needs to be and balance about technology and getting out and enjoying the world.
Jorge E Castañeda says
Do not blame the iPhone for the problems with our kids, blame our society for not learning how to use this new technology. Blaming the iPhone is akin to blaming the invention of the wheel for all the accidents on our streets and highways nowadays. Society needs to learn and understand how to use new technology, it isn’t a matter of just learning how it works, but to understand how it will affect our daily lives. There are many “experts” that come out of the woodwork with their theories on the matter mentioned above but in reality it’s our misunderstanding that leads us to confusion.
Lori Barnes says
As the mother of an almost 13 year old and 9 year old I find this article timely. I have never felt it was a good fit for our family to have a video gaming system, but I struggle with knowing when the time is right for teens to have a phone. My 12 year old is convinced that she’s the “only” one in her class without a smart phone. I have no problem sying no, or with my children being different, however, would love some insight as to the right age.
What have we come to? You have to learn how to play with your kids. My kids played with each other and we hung out. I didnt per say “play”, but I was there watching and cheering them on at games etc. Smh America wake up and just get involved on way or the other!
BTW no one should have a phone that is is under 13 unless they ready and if for protection purposes such as walking home from school etc. There is too much danger to get into on the phone.
Dolores Scaletta says
I have never read an article like the one above and I am 90 1/2 yrs old. This whole thing makes sense and the more you read it more sense it makes.
I was married and am widowed now and had 4 good kids – they drove me up a wall but nothing bad or terrible like the kids today. They were just regular normal kids.
I now have 8 grandkids 4 boys & 4 girls. But what you say in this article I can see it in some of my grandkids. Something I saw long time ago but never said anything to anyone,but tried to talk to them but, they never listened to me because, I guess they thought I was an old grandma and wasn’t with it today.
I can say it isn’t too late to try and make it better. My grandkids and all kids are in my daily prayers and with the help of God we might get thru this whole thing.
Priscilla Johansen says
I have a question. It’s hard when you don’t have kids together and I have my son full time and my husband has his two younger kids part time and that’s on the wknds and me and my husband came up with this rule no cell phone when you come home from school but can be on the games or laptop or iPad and now my husband said that no cell during the week on school night but can have your cell phone on the wknds
Living Yoga says
a real spiritual activity could help these young people, especially if they can achieve real spiritual development
Susan Scharf says
This was a very thought provoking article. Having lived in Arlington VA and now in Portland OR I am amazed at the differences. Back East I saw few kids outside playing and a lot of CPB (ell phone babysitting), Here in Oregon I see more kids outside playing and in restaurants the parents are more engaged with their children. Not a value judgment just an observation. This statistics in this study shows the need for more school counselors at every level. As the psycho-social needs of children increase a school counselor is trained to help kids with not only their individual issues, but also can work in groups on bullying. I can’t emphasize the need for this enough.
This is not just an issue for children. Look at all the adults on their phones not even looking at each other or sometimes where they are walking. I have a smart phone and I do use it. But look around just about anywhere and you will see a lot of people glued to their phones. I agree it does affect kids but also adults. I think it affects kids more since they are still growing and learning. If kids see their parents or other adults or their friends, they will copy them.
I miss my daughter. Great article. My younger daughter lives about 2 hours away and wanted me to come over. She was lonely. So I drove over and got there by 2PM. She sat with me and texted for 45 minutes before I finally got up and said, well I have to get going now so I won’t hit rush hour. She said she just had to reply to some texts and then was going to talk with me. She missed me so much and was so upset, but I told her I had to leave at three. So I hugged her and cried all the way home.
Christy Arnold says
This is the best and most helpful article! You have pointed out so many wise tips that should really just be common sense but maybe we forget about as modern day parents trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of everything. Sometimes life gets overwhelming, managing work and family, keeping up with the Jones’s, and keeping our children happy and healthy at the same time… well, whew!!! But you are so right! Let’s bring things back to basics. Back to face to face time, human interaction, valuable time and communication, and the good outdoors. It’s not complicated or time consuming either. Your calendar of activities is a great example of fun, inexpensive, and stress free ideas. Plus all that time without the electronics will actually amaze people with the time they have for other things! All the best.
K H says
I think it should be noted that 2007 is also when the recession first hit. This might be a big contributor as well!
I am a teacher and parent of two boys younger than 4….this is all so sad and true. I want to share this very much! Is there any way I could get this blog post in a printable format with the links listed at the end? I would love to share this with my student’s parents at conference time! Thanks.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
I had 3 kids in 4 years in the late 90’s. We used to turn the TV off for 1 month in the summer, cancel our satellite subscription. We still have the old videos on the VCR to watch if they were desperate, Then we had a list on the back of the bedroom door of cool things we wanted to do, bike to a certain place, have a epic water fight, picnic, build a fort. And we would try and cross off as many as we could over the summer. Those were great years. We didn’t let them get phones until they were 16 and I have never paid a cent toward a phone for them. I don’t own a phone. We camped for family vacations. We lived in the country. We ate supper around the table every night without the TV on. But for us it didn’t work, my children think that how everyone else is living is better. That life of party’s and drugs is more fun. and now they are glued to their phones. I thought t we were in touch and aware, we were here, we were present. But now I have addiction and mental health living in my house where my children were.
While I am certain that technology and the age of anonymous cyber bullies has played a part in childhood depression why is no one talking about the age of Teach-to-Test that all happened about the same time when schools drastically changed to teach for testing and many dropped important education like the arts and real literature based curriculum?
Viktoria Grinberg says
Thank you for this article!!!
When we give our kids a chance to fail – in small ways, like the lunch example mentioned here – we make them stronger. How else do they learn to stand on their own 2 feet? We have to give them increasing amounts of responsibility so they can grow.
Also, teaching them why we are limiting screen time will help get them on board with healthy use of electronics. If they know the reasons (in as much detail as they can understand at their age level), they will find it easier to accept.
I agree wholeheartedly. It is a good example of how the things we read on the internet makes us, and are children, feel inadequate -that what we do is never good enough. This could have been written in a different way, rather than ‘you’re doing this wrong’ and ‘hey look how I do it with my kids- clearly I’m perfect and you’re not’ . This isn’t meant to be a nasty post, just some constructive criticism. If you are writing about how the things we hear and read become our inner voice, then make sure the inner voice you will therefore inevitably become, isn’t a negative one.
i agree with most of these but giving people chores are just going to stress your child, out, or at least in my circumstance, but o agree with the one week tech free
Ashley Hoober says
my children and I now have a bedtime routine where we talk about the feelings of the day. It helps them sleep and hopefully feel better when their inner voices creep up
Bella Marin says
Tech free feels cruel at first, when children have so many “online friends” , but my children have actually grown to appreciate tech free time.
This is truely an eye opener! So sad yet so true!
Nellie Stubbs says
Kids learn so much by example. You cannot expect them to put down their phones and tablets if you ‘re not willing to do that first.
Becky (Your Modern Family) says
SO true!! Our kids notice EVERYTHING we do, even when we think they’re not watching. It is so important to set a good example with our own technology use!