Socially Interacting With Yesteryear

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I am a dinosaur. I am very technologically behind for my generation. I don't facebook, twitter, text (much), or email. I have an iPhone and an ipad, but don't use them more than once or twice a day. I feel out of the loop at school and away from it. I notice everyone around me texting and I-M ing, while I avoid their unwitting walk, heads in their hands. I like to socialize with my friends, but they don't seem to care to look at me. I have many friends, its not that, but wish they would look at me instead of an inanimate object. Their habits for mento socialize with my teachers not my peers. Don't get me wrong I like my teachers, but I want to get to know my generation not the 60's generation I feel closer to. Do you have any Suggestions to counteract this rapidly spreading addiction that is afficting my generation. Thank you for reading and the irony of me testing this to you, signed socially interacting with yesteryear.
Signed: Socially Interacting With Yesteryear

Dear Socially Interacting With Yesteryear,

There are certainly some technological changes that have offered exciting and helpful things for teens. However, TeenHealthFX does think that it is important to have a balance in life when it comes to time spent with media (phones, computers, iPads, etc.) and time spent with friends and other pursuits. For example, the teen that sleeps with his/her phone under the pillow and generally answers every call and text through the night has lost that balance.

FX appreciates how difficult it must feel for you to see everyone around you glued to their phones and iPads – something that is just not of interest to you. We have a couple of thoughts of how to deal with this:

• The first is to speak to your friends about it. Let them know some specific things that bother you and what you would like to be different. In addition, voice your opinion that sometimes there is such thing as too much of a good thing. If they are your friends, hopefully they will respect what you have to say and take it into consideration when you want to do something other than walk around side by side glued to your phones.

• Second, speak to a teacher or your principal about putting together an assembly on finding a balance when it comes to technology and/or having some kind of club that advocates such a balance. The key in this pursuit is not to put down technological advances, but rather to praise the ways in which it can be helpful while simultaneously educating people about some of the problems that can occur when that balance is lost. Not only might you find some peers who feel as you do in this pursuit, you might also influence the staff and the students at your school to consider some new perspectives on how much use is just too much when it comes to media. You might find some inspiration with the Center on Media and Child Health through Children’s Hospital Boston.

• Third, consider joining some kind of club or sport where you will be with peers where media is not the primary pursuit. If you are building houses with Habitat for Humanity, hiking with a hiking group, taking care of animals at a local shelter, participating on a sports team, playing an instrument or doing whatever else interests you – you will be in a situation with your peers where it is hard to use media (i.e., it’s hard to post on Facebook while swimming laps!). Depending on how old you are, you might consider either going to or working at a day or sleep-away camp this summer as most camps tend to limit the amount of media their campers can use while at camp. The key here is to find places you can go and people you can hang out with where there is break from all the media.

• The last item is to be tolerant of balance, yourself. Phones, iPads and computers are not going to go away anytime soon – so while you can ask friends or advocate with your peers to find a balance in how much they use media, keep your expectations realistic in that it is probably unlikely someone will totally give up on media and be as disinterested in it as you are.   

Signed: TeenHealthFX