#AtoZ Challenge: A is for Addiction to Devices


stormtrooper phone cords
photo credit: Jim Bauer I Just Want to Charge My Phone via photopin (license)

As a Generation Xer, it’s my duty to bitch about millennials and Generation Z and their device addiction.

AAm I any better? I tell them the kids dinner time by texting. (I’ll chalk this up to Gen X Energy Conservation. Why trudge up the stairs when I have the culmination of George Jetson’s, C-3PO’s and Scottie’s genius, sitting in the palm of my hand?)

Thing is, as annoying as texting and driving can be, or talking to the stone wall fortress a person perusing Facebook on their phone becomes, addiction seems so … severe.

Who’s to say whether hours-long swiping on Bumble or marathon sessions of Candy Crush (do people still play that?) or incessant Instagramming makes this world a worse place than, say, using straws or watching Dance Moms.

I ask my kids, “are you feeling all right?” if their faces light up blue by tiny screens plugged into iFunny or Pinterest or Slither I.O. They look up and sneer. Hell, if my Android wasn’t junk with a touchscreen, maybe my face would be blue, too.

Lots of good stuff seems to come out of devices, too, though.

The smattering of selfies and inspiration

My friend Tamara offered a spare iPhone long ago when my own flip phone returned to his Maker (or a landfill near you.)

My girls confiscated it, asserting nonverbally that their ability to actually operate the device gave them dominion over it, equaling 9/10th possession. They tested my storage space immediately with a peppering and more than a smattering of selfies.

It would be one thing if there were two or three selfies that look alike.

These girls, though, don’t often leave good enough alone. They hold the shutter down or something, whatever you call it on a smartphone, and rack up 33 only-slightly-different selfies on dad’s phone when he isn’t looking.

Joke’s on them when the pictures wind up on this blog.

My girls scour the web on their devices for inspiration, picking Mia Hamm quotes and images of projects to attempt, in the kitchen or in their sketch book or on their friend’s skin. (Elise designed a tattoo for someone. So, technically, she’s published, right?)

And Grace found inspiration to draw this, from pictures found on Pinterest.

grace disney mickey mouse drawing art devices

Balance of tablets, like tacos

I include my laptop in this device debate. I know my default is to get home, grab a stack of graham crackers, rum up my Coke Zero and plug in the laptop. Even when it isn’t Fantasy Football season. There are work emails to check and blog comments to answer.

With anything cool, and especially as kids, there’s trial and error in uncovering the balance between use and addiction (such a harsh word, still, I maintain).

Anything, from tablets to tacos, should enhance the human experience. Anything, from tablets to tacos, could hurt it. It’s about being present. If I text at stoplights, I could miss a cardinal, a car that looks like KITT, or a girl smiling at me. (Okay, the bird and car.)

Moderation – in sour cream and in social media – is the key.

I don’t mind a 12-year-old lost in Instagram after a long school day. I see little harm in a 16-year old retreating to the bedroom after a grueling soccer match to chat with friends. I’m grateful for a 19-year-old who posts photos of her days in Asheville to social media.

I get to see the world through their eyes, through their enabled devices, and it’s good.

When they get down for dinner, the devices get a break. I’m not saying we sit around the table and recite favorite Psalms over gluten-free eating. Even if it’s on the couch watching Shark Tank, faces aren’t blue, even though the language sometimes is.

One of them might even mention it in their story later.

addiction quote

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68 thoughts on “#AtoZ Challenge: A is for Addiction to Devices”

  1. Haha…my girls are so similar when it comes to devices. As you know, my 5-year old is the selfie queen and she thinks she’ll be famous one day. Love the drawing by Grace – it’s awesome. (•‾⌣‾•)و ̑̑♡

  2. and i would like to give you an “a” for your first post in the a-z challenge. yes, addiction to devices is quite easy to fall into. every now and then, it’s good to just turn off glow of the blue lights and go with the natural lighting of the world around us. it’s more flattering on our skin too, like a glamour shot.

  3. I love that drawing! But, I agree about he addiction… It drives me nuts to see my kids continually holding a phone in their hands, faces glued to the screen. I keep threatening to throw them ALL AWAY!!! And then I realize I am doing the same thing…….. ugh…. At least we have breaks sometimes.

    1. Thanks, Vicki! i know it’s mesmerizing, but we have to be aware of the world around us too.

      My eyes focus better on the world than on a smart screen!

  4. I’m currently reading a book about teen girls and social media (I like a good horror story once in a while) so this was a timely read for me. I land in the “all things in moderation” camp. My girls are too young for phones, but play on LeadPads and computers, but as long as they are swimming and playing with friends and tobogganing in the front yard and learning to read … all good.

    And happy to see you A to Zing – I’m trying for the first time this year 🙂

    1. It’s a crazy world that parents sometimes can’t control, but I’ve found that the *illusion* of understanding can carry us a bit.

      All about balance, like, having a salad for every 17 tacos. Or something.

      Look forward to your A to Z-ing, too, Louise. Always great to see you.

  5. I enjoyed reading this. I have to admit, I am a texter BIG TIME, but mainly because I have hearing loss so phone calls really suck for me. When I do call though, usually that person will pick up because they are wondering why I’m calling, haha! Now I’ve discovered the “Marco Polo” app and “Snapchat” so I can send quick messages – gotta love all this technology!
    Heidi from the A to Z Challenge at, Decibel Memos

    1. Thanks, Heidi. I think it’s good to use the technology, especially when it helps you communicate.

      I think it’s easy to bash extensive use – unless it’s ours! I loved using the QT app, especially when it means notifications for free food and drink!

  6. This is such a weird time that we are living in. I remember when I was growing up, we never had these things. Everything is on the tablets now. Books!
    My son has severe OCD and some programing like meditation and some apps actually help his “bullying” thoughts derail for small periods of time. Some people will comment “Your kid is on his ipad a lot” – well, there’s a reason.
    It’s so hard to find a balance though. Even for us – well especially for us who write blogs or just write in general. Everything is connected to it. I tried deactivating my facebook account once and it was a such a nice break although it was really hard to do. I realized how much I reached for my phone to check the latest in my feed!

    1. I think it was this way with TV probably. A cool technology that we guilted (or felt guilted by.)

      I know of great meditation apps. Not all device use is the devil’s playground, right? I’m surprised those who’ve made those comments have looked up from their devices long enough to notice.

      There is an inherent good in technology, after all. So glad to see you here – you’re bookmarked for reading, too.

  7. I think there are some things you simply can’t fight. Kids are on social media and though you may not like all of it, it sounds as though you have some great teaching in place and that there is a time and place for everything. The no phone at the dinner table rule is a great one. Sometimes I have a really hard time unwinding and disconnecting and my bf, who is not very social media savvy, calls me out on it always.

    Love that there are ways you all connect and that your kiddos like their selfies and instagramming when they can. Everything in moderation, just as you said 🙂

    1. Right, Charlotte. It’s the same as sending your kids to the mall – I think all you can do is rely on the way you’ve raised them, whether they’re at the food court or on Snapchat.

      These girls will put down their devices for a wide variety of snacks or the hint of a soccer ball, too.

    1. Cheryl, there’s no science behind this – yet – but I believe one kid with a device is the equivalent to one child with 17 puppies. Give or take.

  8. Being aware of how much time I spend checking my devices for updates or playing games on them is something I’m doing right now. I’ve removed the FB app from my phone and that’s helped a little. An enlightening post!

    1. It helps to have a dilapidated device. This way, it’s too much a pain in the arse to do much on it.

      The Instagram and Slack apps have stopped working on my phone, so maybe that’s the universe speaking!

  9. Enjoyable post! I think it’s something that so many of us wonder ~ how much is too much? Should we monitor ourselves more and are we interacting in real life as much as we are in the wacky world of the web? Personally, I’m an American who lives in Australia. So, I love the way that technology has allowed me to keep in touch and not feel so far removed. But, I need balance. I find that by stepping away from technology and reading books. Not e-readers, but good old-fashioned books.

    1. Thanks! I think we have to go by feel. I’ve stopped texting at stoplights, in case I miss something. But I’ll check my phone when I sit down to my computer, before I log in. Seems like a good time.

      Technology is good, as you know. Makes you feel not a world away from us here in the states. Maybe alternate between an e-reader book and one with a spine and pages?

      By the way – do you have a blog?

  10. Yes they addictive and kids are more than addicted! Kids don’t eat or sleep without their tech time! And become so grumpy if not given them their favorite gadget!
    That is how it is with today’s generation!

    Cheers
    BoisterousBee

    1. I remember that slack-jaw look people had when smartphones first came out. Isn’t there a neck condition caused by slumping over a device?

      I remember when email was first kind of a thing, and a friend who was so connected to being connected, she’d get out of bed to pee in the middle of the night, and fire up the AOL to check her email!

  11. It’s so hard to put a time limit on those devices. We try with our oldest, just show him moderation. Otherwise he’d be on it until he gets a headache. Forget to drink. Forget to eat. Must play games…. He turns into the zombies he slays in Minecraft. But it’s great for keeping in touch with friends and family. With mine 1100 miles away (or farther) I’m thankful for it.

    1. I think you have to play it by feel, Eric. If you feel you didn’t get enough done in a day, or interact enough, then maybe we should cut down on screen time a little.

      Maybe at times some people will think, “I didn’t peruse Facebook political posts enough today” or “there are tons of Instagram photos I never got to,” and, well, we can cut down on time spent gardening or washing our cars.

      I’m thankful I can see into the lives of friends and family all over, that’s for sure. Today, I planted a tree, so if I spend a little time reading my friends’ words next? I’m good with that.

  12. I think no matter the generation, we are all guilty of spending too much screen time. It’s so tempting because something is always on! How many people do you actually know who master the art of moderation?
    Here’s an app I recently downloaded, it prevents you from accessing your phone for a set time because during that period, a (virtual) tree is growing, and we don’t want to mess with that: https://www.forestapp.cc/en/

    Good luck for the remaining 25 letters! and thanks for the shout-out, E! too bad it went to cyber heaven.

    1. Just think, one generation might have been concerned about people spending too much time reading books or the newspaper.

      I get to the point where everything is sort of a repeat, so it won’t hold my interest long. I have a routine I go through on social media, one that doesn’t have many steps.

      I wonder if they have an app that prevents me from accessing a bag of tortilla chips.

      That phone served me so well until it went to cyber heaven. It had a second life with me.

  13. It’s a different world we live in. My daughter doesn’t go over to her friends houses or have friends over as much. They can play Roblox while face timing. My son & husband have bonded playing Call of Duty. I’m hoping to make a living blogging. Since I’m just starting out, I am on my laptop an insane amount of each day. I have a feeling that won’t change for a while.

    But before we had phones, we were all addicted to the TV. Hours and hours of TV each week. Now we barely watch it. We watch movies as a family every week or every other week.

    It’s fine for us. I know life isn’t going back to how it was without all our devices. As long as it doesn’t affect the kids grades or their chores and they still go to bed on time, we’re okay with it. Yes, we have to yell to get their attention sometimes, but it was like that when we were addicted to the TV. It’s just how it is now. We have a rule no devices at the dinner table. Or when we go out to eat.

    Thank you for the good read.

    xo, Lynn N.
    http://emmaandrose.com
    Pinterest/Twitter: @emmaandrose
    Instagram: @emmaandroseblog

    1. My father died nearly 17 years ago. It’s amazing to consider that during his life, you couldn’t use an ATM card in a fast-food drive through.

      In my kids’ lifetime, so much technology has shaped how we live. Much of it – most of it – for the better. We all will have challenges, in every era. Probably Charles Wilder got on his kids for playing make-believe and daydreaming when there were chores to do. No app can help that!

      Glad you’re here – can’t wait to get back to your site!

  14. It’s the number one thing my son and I argue about.

    My son would stay in his bedroom staring at his computer…

    24/7.

    This is not hyperbole. I have tested this theory.

    He literally cannot stop. It truly is an addiction.

    And it’s not productive. And it’s isolating.

    And, unfortunately, his father doesn’t see it like that.

    Soooooooo, yeah. That.

    1. Yeah, definitely that, Renee. And you need the same expectation both places, don’t you? Otherwise, one becomes the haven against the other.

      So much more to say on this, I suspect. Have you written on it?

  15. I just wish people wouldn’t walk and look at their cell phones at the same time, I tire of getting out of their way, and no one smiles, or says hello to each other anymore – too busy looking at their phones.

    1. A girl on a college campus ran into me once while on her phone. “Look where I’m going!” she said with a smile. I thought that was clever.

      Most people with noses buried in devices aren’t as clever. Or as cute.

  16. It’s tricky! Here n the UK the official advice is still no mobile phones near a baby (the waves go right through their brain and change the way their brain waves are working etc. even don’t hold a phone and use it while holding a baby) and not until they are 16. I gave mine theirs when they were 15, as a compromise. And only allowed to use them for two hours ad ay to allow for other pursuits – and other types of growth, language, conversation face to face with all the cues, etc etc. They don’t hate me to much… lol!
    E is for Shirin Ebadi – first Iranian to win a Nobel Peace Prize #AtoZ Challenge

    1. You’re right, Liz. So interesting on the UK’s approach with mobile phones and babies. My 16-year-old has her own device, and her sister, age 12, uses a tablet mostly.

      I love your limitations, and just as veggies over cookies, it’s not easy to do, but better for us, right?

  17. I wonder all the time what we did without the technology we have today. I was watching NCIS the other night and they all got a “virus” on their cell phones and personal laptops that had to be quarantined until they figured it out. Problem: they forgot how to use simple things like maps instead of GPS. I am a little older than you but I can still read a map! LOL! and I can survive without *most* technology so I wouldn’t call myself addicted. 😉

    1. We lived pretty simply, Courtney! I remember when the cable going out was the biggest technological failure.

      I can see how our dependence on GPS would hurt us in times we don’t have it. It’s almost a blessing when the GPS doesn’t work and we have to rely on guesswork and logic to get us there.

      We don’t need technology for everything. People like the gospel writers and Thoreau were blogging way before there was an Internet.

  18. I admit I share this addiction but in a way I’m glad. My daughter’s now living away from home and through Messenger, Skype and FaceTime we get to talk to her every night. And she’s not so lonely.

  19. First of all I truly love the Mickey Mouse your daughter drew. Fantastic! And then yes to moderation. I have to admit thought that moderation sometimes seems different on a day we have spent hours outside and doing stuff. I then tend to be more slack with it. Having said that… it’s been almost 3 months since my son last had a device in his hand… and he is surviving!

    1. Glad you liked her drawing. I was amazed by it! Even moderation needs moderation sometimes. Balance, right? Is this three-month drought of devices intentional for him?

      1. It was the aftermath of not following some of our most important rules. But you know what? After two weeks he said how much he is actually enjoying it and how much more present he feels he is. We do so much more together and he actually indicates it.

  20. My kids are 19 & 22, so very technologically savvy and dependent. My son is looking at a new truck as he graduates from college and one of his “must haves” was Bluetooth. Not power windows or rubber floor mats, but Bluetooth!

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