Our Very Busy Teens: Or, Has the World Gone Mad?

by Red Pill Mama · 0 comments

in Character,General,Health+Wellness,Technology

Once again, I’m following the rule of threes: first, I read an article about a 16-year-old girl in Chicago who is facing surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, after sending up to 4,000 text messages a month on her phone.  The tip-off that something was amiss?  She started losing feeling in her hands!  She now wears braces on both her hands and gets regular cortisone injections, but still sends about 30 texts a day.  This girl claims to have spent every minute she was not in school, texting.

My first thought: Has the world gone completely mad?

Second, I was looking at Easter cards for my kids, and came across one that said, “Happy Easter from some bunny who loves you” (on the front), and then read, on the inside: “… besides the cell phone companies!”

My first thought: Has the world gone completely mad?

Third, I got into a conversation with some moms of teenagers (a rare experience for me, as I run almost exclusively in grade-school circles these days) who were lamenting the ubiquity of texting in their teenagers’ – and their – lives.  At the table, on family visits, basically all the time.  These moms were not just complaining, but sharing their strategies for placing limits on cell-phone time.  Something they brought up that hadn’t occurred to me was the fact that, in contrast to the ‘olden days’ (as we call anything prior to 1990 here at home) when teenagers actually talked on the phone, and parents could at least somewhat (or very deliberately) eavesdrop or overhear their kids’ conversations, with texting, unless you have some sort of system in place to monitor those texts, you have no idea, as a parent, who your child is talking to, and what they’re talking about.  Their entire life is secret from you, the parent, but unfortunately out there, “in writing” so to speak, or in living color digital photos, for the all the world to see.  It’s a strange reversal of what was formerly the natural order of privacy, isn’t it?

My first thought: (Not what you think, but rather:) Yikes, I wonder what things are going to be like in five years or so, when my eldest may start asking for a phone?

Let’s get back to 16-year-old Annie Levitz from Chicago.  My second question: um, parents?  Hello?  My third question: what is she NOT doing when she’s not in school, if she’s texting every other minute?  Well, let’s see: that would include extracurricular activities (sports, music, art, etc.); having one-on-one conversations with other human beings, such as friends, family members, neighbors; exercising; spending time outside in nature; doing homework; reading; doing chores around the house.  I wonder if she even gets enough sleep?  I guess it’s a good thing that she’s not watching TV, but is this any way for a kid to live?  What kind of lonely, disconnected, socially illiterate, environmentally unconscious, unhealthy adult is she going to grow up into?  I’ll say it again: Um, parents?  Hello?

Now back to the greeting card.  I guess greeting cards can be considered a fairly accurate barometer for what’s normal in society.  We now have cards for step-parents and ‘guardians’ and interracial romances – less common in your average Hallmark store, but nonetheless out there are cards for same-sex relationships – and of course now you can buy cards for your pet (or from your pet).  So I guess it’s no surprise that a card that sort of passive-aggressively hints at a teen child’s reliance on the strength of their wireless signal should get thrown into the mix as well.  But this card makes me ill, because any parent who buys it obviously has a problem with how much time their child spends on their phone (regardless of whether it’s purchased with a chuckle or a groan), and yet this is the way they are choosing to communicate their displeasure.  Whatever happened to parents, instead of buying cringe-worthy cards or letting their children lose feeling in their hands, simply saying: this behavior is unacceptable, and you will change it or suffer consequences?  (This question could spawn an entire post called, “When Did Kids Become the Boss?” – but honestly, I wouldn’t know what to write after that, because I don’t have an answer to when or why.  I’ll have to do some hunting around and see if there’s anyone who does.)

As for the conversation with the moms of teenagers, that was the bright spot in the midst of this whole head-shaking topic: because here was a group of moms that were not just shrugging it off as typical teenage behavior in 2010, not just complaining and not doing anything about it, but sharing stories about how they have laid down the law at home, set limits, set boundaries, and continued to encourage (and demand) their kids to not let these devices, and this way of communicating, take over their lives to the exclusion of all those things that poor Annie Levitz is missing out on.  These moms were talking about how they are dealing with this problem — not just because they never did this when they were growing up (in the olden days), but because, while they understand that the world has changed and this is a part of teendom, they realize that there are ways to integrate this technology into their lives without letting it cause damage.  These are Red Pill Parents Extraordinaire – I applaud them – and wish them luck.

In closing, I want to share with you the lyrics to a song that I believe shrewdly encapsulates everything our modern kids could become if we let them, their peers, our culture, and their technology rule their lives, instead of us, their parents.  It’s also everything I don’t want my own kids to be.  Annie Levitz was a very busy girl with her 4,000 texts per month.  I’d say she’s still pretty busy with her 30 a day.  Is this the kind of ‘busy’ that we want our kids to be?

(Warning: explicit lyrics!)

Very Busy People by The Limousines

we’ll end up numb
from playing video games
and we’ll get sick
of having sex

and we’ll get fat
from eating candy
as we drink ourselves
to death

we’ll stay up late
making mix tapes
photoshopping pictures
of ourselves

while we masturbate
to these pixelated
videos of strangers
fucking themselves

we are very busy people
we are very busy people

there’s crusty socks
and stacks of pizza boxes
making trails straight
to the bed

and when we’re done
sleeping we’ll stay busy
dreaming of the things
we don’t have yet

well there’s a long
long list of chores
and shit to do before
we play, oh let’s just
piss away the day

crank call the cops
down at the station
just for friendly
conversation requesting
songs they never play

let’s hear the one
that goes like
we are very busy people
but we’ve always got
time for new friends

so come on over and
knock on our door
it’s open, what’s ya
waiting for

we might be sprawled
out on the floor
but we still make
lovely company

pull up a chair
i’ll pour some tea
we’ll shoot the shit
’bout everything
til you get sick
of politics and
flip on the tv screen
we stare at the tv screen

that donnie darko DVD
has been repeating for
a week and we know every
single word

i’ve got an ipod
like a pirate ship
i’ll sail the seas
with fifty thousand
songs i’ve never heard
and all the best of them
go la la la la la la la la …

(Thanks to www.songmeanings.net — and for more on Annie Levitz and her text-induced carpal tunnel woes, see this ABC.com story — though of course I read about it in The Week …)

Hoping that blogging doesn’t count as “texting,”

Red Pill Mama

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