I remember spending the night at a friend's house when I was in the 8th grade. We stayed up late calling girls on the telephone. I recall my friend's dad picking up the phone in his room while I was on the line. He said, "Rob, get off the phone, and stay off the phone."
My female friend, in a hushed tone said, "Who was that?"
"Rob's dad," I said. "We better go."
I was mortified, and I'd most likely managed inadvertently to get Rob grounded.
But thinking back on it, those were good times. Late nights eating pop-tarts, drinking pop, listening to CDs, playing Donkey Kong, and calling girls.
The risk in calling a girl late was that her parents might pick up. We had a way around that problem. The key was to have the girl call the time & temp number at a specified time and then switch over via call waiting. It was brilliant, and it generally worked. Unless, that is, the parents happened to pick up the phone.
It all seems so innocent, so primitive now.
I recently read this super-depressing article in the Atlantic—"Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?"
[I realize the irony of decrying social media on social media, but it's worth a read if you have the time.]
I've got to say, it's rather disturbing. In short, kids are drinking less, and are less sexually active, but they're lonelier than ever.
As someone who will have teenage girls sometime in the not so distant future, I'm pleased about the first two stats, but I'd hate to think they'd become so consumed by their devices that they'd miss out on life itself.
Rather than strictly condemning this generation, I'm trying to be more aware of the use of "screen time" in my OWN life. I'm trying to look less at my phone, but #fomo is very real. "What was that ring, ding, buzz, etc.? Wonder how many likes I have?" We've become like sophisticated Pavlovian dogs.
Occasionally Nora (the 3 year old) will enter the room and say, "Daddy, Daddy... Daddy?"
"Yes, what is it?" I say.
"Look at my eyes, Daddy."
That's code for stop looking at your phone; you're missing out on life itself.