One of the things that I love about blogging in this space is the opportunity to look down memory lane and offer some insight based on my own experiences. Not this week, since the topic of the hour was unheard of when I was a teenage girl, though most of us cannot imagine life without it. Yes, you guessed it—we’re talking our beloved electronic devices and connecting to the internet with them.
Big topic for teenage girls, right? Of course. it is, but according to Nicola Morgan, expert on the adolescent brain, the topic is as crucially important for adults as it is teenagers. In our special summer edition podcast, Episode 12: Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out, Nicola tells us why we are so captivated by our devices and what compels us to stay online all the time, okay most of the time. Also, she offers more insight on the subject in her latest book, The Teenage Guide to Life Online.
Admittedly, I have been a big proponent of confiscating phones and devices from teens particularly before bedtime without reference to what using the phone and being online obsessively might be doing to my own sleep, my own concentration, my life.
A few months ago, however, my nutritionist suggested that I put the phone away at least 1.5 hours before going to bed and I upped the stakes to two hours and have been reaping benefits since, at least when I manage to comply. But here is the thing, the penny still didn’t drop that I have been practicing double standards, as have many adults, until my conversation with Nicola.
In short, Nicola suggests that adults practice what we preach and offers three top tips about device and online management: 1) Switch off and put out of sight 1.5 hours before bedtime, 2) Put away at mealtimes, even a coffee with a friend, 3) Ban during a conversations. Don’t even glance. Gulp!
Now is the time for my confession. Last summer when my niece Jana, my now 15, visited London, the smart phone was indeed a point of contention. It and it only could cause the type of disturbance that could ruin Jana’s holiday to my mind. So, when she was walking around London clutching it, I cajoled and prodded, ‘put the phone away and check out this and that and so on’.
And at dinner, no phones were allowed at the table, not Jana’s anyhow, and at night, the phone was removed from her presence, ensuring a good night’s sleep for all, well for me anyhow. At least one night, separation anxiety caused such an upheaval that, my darling niece was up rather early asking if she could have her phone back.
Meanwhile, I was ever so determined to save her from it while all the time obsessively checking my own messages late at night and justifying occasional use at the dinner table or during a conversation. Worse yet, I probably caused a few second-hand disruptions, using my phone when she and my nephew had put theirs away with a view to concentrate on London.
I think this is the biggie for many adults. After all, we have to check work messages, take a phone call, do important things, right. Wrong answer, says Nicola Morgan.
For the rest of the story, Listen to Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out on iTunes, Soundcloud, TuneIn, Stitcher and other listening apps. Meanwhile, sounds like a much needed opportunity to bridge a gap between the generations. Jana, I am waiting at the half way mark, phone well out of sight. See you on the bridge.