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Teens, Parents and Technology: Too Much Technology?

The recent issue of Your Teen Magazine had as it’s feature story, teens and technology. Obviously technology is a huge part of all our lives but one point in the article really intrigued me. Dr. Georgette Constantinou, a pediatric psychologist, stated: “Technology is overwhelming our teenagers’ lives. We need to ask: ‘Are we giving our teenagers time to be real?’”

So I pose that question to all of you, including Dad – is technology taking over too much of your life? Do you have enough face to face, uninterrupted time with actual people?

As a follow up, I recently heard of two strategies designed to control cell phone use in social situations. The first, called the Phone Stack, takes place when a group of friends are at a restaurant. All cell phones are placed in the middle of the table, whoever answers their phone, picks up the bill. The second was suggested by a teen: when hanging out with friends if you send or receive a text you must read it out loud to the group. What do you think?.

Like most of the questions you ask us, it all depends on the person. If you have a son or a daughter that can’t function without having an Ipod at all times, or can spend a whole day staring at a TV playing Call of Duty without blinking, then maybe you have a problem. But I feel like technology is just a part of our world now. And frankly, it’s not just kids that are becoming obsessive; I see parents just as Iphone savvy as their kids.

The one way technology has affected me negatively definitely would be that guys are SO attached to their video games. If I hear another guy tell me what his Call of Duty rank is or that he is going to be a professional gamer I think my eyes will pop out from all the rolling they have done over the years. I mean seriously guys, what is up with the obsession? I like video games too. But reality seems a little more important than how many fake bad guys you can shoot in ten minutes. Just saying.

I have never heard of the phone stack thing before. Sounds interesting… though what happens if no one picks up there phone, who pays for dinner?

I doubt many of my friends would be down for playing that though. Maybe just leaving all our phones on off would work better. But I don’t know any college student who would be willing to pay for everyone’s dinner like that.

Technology is here, and our lives are just going to get more and more intertwined with the latest options. Not only that, most of us (adults too) love it, and want more of it. There’s relatively few of us who don’t want the latest Iphone, Ipad or app to go with it. The key is developing appropriate social etiquette (which we’ve discussed before – please stop texting while I’m trying to talk to you!) and deciding how to intermingle technology with our own lives.

There’s probably a lot to be said for a leisurely train ride across country or the excitement of receiving a telegram. But I’ll probably never know, nor do I want to know. I happen to like having “time outs” from technology where I will have no cell phone/ email/ or even television for a short time….but I may be like those “old” people who don’t have DVR and still watch commercials. Times change and most of us adapt. But my suggestion to you kids, is to make sure that you have at least some actual face time (not just face book time) with your friends and family. (And I love the idea of a cell phone tower to see who pays for dinner!)

To me, I see the overwhelming use of technology in teenagers today as just another way the world is changing. Teachers in school often tell us that in the near future, text books will be tools of the past. Tablets that are capable of surfing the web will replace the old-fashion text book that we have all come to know. So I think that the huge increase in the use of technology is unavoidable. The world is changing, everything is becoming more advanced, so why not use the new stuff?

As for the question of face to face interaction with real people, school five days a week does that enough for us. Not to mention hanging out with friends on the weekends. Yes, I agree that technology might be “taking over the lives of our teens” as some people would say,. But to me it is nothing more than the world continuously improving and advancing.

My friends and I don’t have any “rules” for technology when we’re together. But I do like the phone stack idea. I am not on my phone 24-7 and I like when other people pick up the tab.

I definitely feel that technology is being abused in social settings. For me, getting together with friends for fun or dinner is a special event. It’s a time for me to put aside daily rituals (this includes social networking and texting) and devote my time to a few other people. When other people start pulling out their phones and texting in the corner of the room for five minutes or showing everyone a comment someone left on their wall, I find myself feeling like social gathering is a lost art. All the wireless temptations are an addiction. And I think everyone has felt that urge to randomly pull out their phone or check for notifications at inappropriate times.

What I try and do is reach an agreement with everyone to turn their phones off, unless it needs to be on for a purpose. All that kids and adults need to do is exert a little will power for a few hours when they’re with other people. It really makes all the difference. It’s important for us to know that with the rise of virtual connectedness we can still do things the natural way.

Mindy Gallagher is the Social Media Manager for Your Teen Magazine. She is the assistant coach for the girls’ lacrosse team for Solon High School in Ohio.

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