Jennifer Van Grove: The Smartphone Trap (Or Why It’s Time To Put Your Phone Down)

By Jennifer Van Grove
San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Jennifer Van Grove shares how she has made a conscious effort in the past couple of years to pull back, particularly from social media. She says, “It hasn’t been easy, not when I’ve conditioned myself to find validation from digital sources.”

San Diego Union-Tribune

Are we raising digital monsters? Absolutely. And everyone from parents to Facebook and society as a whole is to blame.

So instead of playing the blame game, I think the most constructive way forward is to take every opportunity we, not just parents, have to put the phone down. In the bedroom. While driving. During meals and conversations. And, perhaps most importantly, when kids are watching.

“My kids have said something about (me being on my phone),” said Catherine Wood Larsen, a local parent of two teens who I initially interviewed last week for my story on kids and devices. “I’m just like everybody else. I will sit at a red light and look at my phone. But when there are other people’s kids in the car, my phone is totally put away.”

Like most of us, she’s passively aware of the smartphone behavior she’s modeling to her kids. Still, it takes an outside social pressure, or stigma, in this case, to actively do something about it.

Aside from modeling to younger generations a kind of life that isn’t dictated by devices, the simplest reason to go device-less is this: We are happier when we’re disconnected.

There is research that demonstrates that most everything you do on a screen is correlated with unhappiness, Jean Twenge told me when I first asked her whether we’re raising digital monsters. Twenge, a San Diego State professor of psychology and the author of “iGen,” also noted the exact opposite to be true. Most everything you do off of a screen is correlated with happiness.

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