Teens and Tech: The most surprising thing to happen over the last few weeks.

My almost 14 year old daughter has been seriously up and down since school called it quits in March.  Then, we went into lockdown a week later.  

     Her phone time and screen time have exceeded 7 hours at times (the UK average use is over 9 hours when kids are at school), and we have had a lot of discussions about what is too much. (We are co-parenting between two homes 45 minutes apart) We are quite well versed in the research about kids and phones and too much screen time, and we have also experienced the effects in real time (changes in behaviour being a huge indicator). Considering her usual allowance is 2 hours, 7 was way, way too much. 

     We are those parents who are really tight on app and phone use in general. I have access to all of her apps, that’s the deal with her having a smartphone vs a brick like her younger sister.  I have no interest in following her or checking her apps and messages, I respect her need for privacy. But every once in a while, I will see a rather dodgy sexual message, or see one of her 13 year old classmates post pictures of herself in her sexy bra (I wonder why her parents don’t see it, and what is driving a young teen do post such intimate and exposing pictures), and I am reassured we are doing the right thing by at least paying attention, and keeping open conversations about it.

      Miss almost-14, likes to post photos of herself too, but we get to vet them.  I actually think she is ok with that, as she wants to present her best self to her world, and while I can be kind, I can be honest.  I have noticed she counts the likes. And it matters to her. There has been research on social validation and teen levels of anxiety and depression, loneliness, bullying and fear of missing out. And none of it is a good reflection of society and social media. We try really hard to be reasonable and supportive, but also have firm boundaries for her protection. The last ‘discussion’ we had, she took on the role of a barrister (very impressive and stylish arguments) to get what she felt she was necessary and reasonable for her survival as a lockdown teen (she was fighting for more time).  But she was able to negotiate with us, and that mattered, both for her own self determination and self-esteem, but also for us being able to set real boundaries and have her not only respect them, but know we are doing it for love and her own safety. We listened to her, and she knew it, and with the eventual outcome, she felt heard through the process.

     In the USA in November 2019, Medical Express ran an article saying that Instagram was supposed to remove the likes option entirely for the reasons above, in favour of improving mental health, but it hasn’t happened.

     If she wants to sit on our dial up 1960s phone (now that I showed her how to use it lol) she can, it’s the radiation/emf that we aren’t thrilled with in terms over use.  And we all know the screen light affects melatonin production and therefore normal sleep.  It is worth noting that she was physically ill the day of serious overuse, with feeling weird, diarrhoea and headaches after having been on the phone so long between facetime/whats app/insta/ etc! Good lesson.

     The realisation that has become surprisingly apparent this week, is that she is missing the actual face to face contact with her friends more than anything.

     And I think she has surprised even herself with this insight. Tech contact and interactions do not make up for the lack of real time social contact, touch, laughs, comraderie, and the other thousands of small interactions that make up her day.

    Small mercies, but if realising that real time social contact is more vital than all the screen virtual contact is something that comes out of this lockdown, I would be delighted.

And what a sea-change that would be.

Personal thoughts on where we are now….ALL working people are essential workers….

This may offend some. Read at your peril.

Had a lovely chat with our local bobby today, he asked me what I thought of the whole thing, and I laughed…. “I don’t think you want to know….” “No, really,” he said, “I would be interested.” (obvs it was a discussion vs the bullet points here, but you get the gist)

Ok here we go then:
1. Keeping healthy people locked in their homes is tyranny.
2. Addressing the poor and fragile health of the nation is vital. By all means, ask the vulnerable to self-protect and self-isolate if necessary.
3. ALL working people are essential workers. 
We support a social system which pays for NHS care and those unable to care for themselves (health, disability, unemployed). 
We have ourselves and our families to feed and shelter. Calling some essential and giving a salary, vs the too many that have been made redundant and unemployed, with no access to income to feed their children or keep a roof over their heads is tyranny.
4. The government cannot continue to print money, nor incur this extreme level of debt.
5. The government cannot continue with no clear plan to end this lockdown. And no, rushing through any not properly tested vaccine (human trials at this stage should be considered unethical), or the 18 month wait for the all saviour vaccine is not a plan.
6. The UK government is embroiled in serious conflict of interest issues with regards to pharmaceutical companies, private income gains with vaccine manufacturers and personal pay offs, and the health minister. He should resign.
7. Severe poverty of the British people will cause more deaths than this virus ever would have.
8. We live in a human, global world. Families are everywhere. 
9. Social touch and connection will never be replaced by screen time. People cannot survive in isolation, we are wired for connection. We are hard wired for connection.
10. There will always be a virus, and another virus, and another, and each one will be this or that. We will never survive if we do not strengthen the human mind body and spirit on all levels. There are many, many ways to help people gain and maintain natural health and wellbeing within themselves, using the basics: good food, loving connection, fresh air and exercise, good sleep, healthy mental attitudes are a few.
I am sure I could go on.

Strengthening the human being is our only way forward. And it should begin in the early years, teaching kids how to grow food, spend time on small farms that are not big agriculture, so they have an attachment to the land. Helping them to learn which foods help them grow, and which can make them ill. Encouraging movement for brain growth and health! Find the fun! At every stage of growth, physical activity is essential for a healthy human! Find the fun! The gentle art of regenerative sleep. Meditation. Emotional intelligence and connection go hand in hand. Love languages and self-awareness. More connection. Curiosity. Critical thinking. Compassion. Coherence.

All lives matter.

It all begins in childhood, and there is an immense opportunity to really turn the Titanic here. 

Can you see it?

May Days

Our house is full of books. The three of us are all avid readers, given I have not had a telly since 1996. Between actual books, kindles and audiobooks….the house can be silent for hours on end. A gift for this never-ending lockdown for sure.

it is time however, to begin to shed older, younger reader books, in favour of whatever adventures will come next….

the problem with this, is that I can no longer keep up! I used to pre read everything my almost tween wanted to read, screening for extreme violence or sexual content…. now that there are two reading so voraciously it is virtually impossible!

dinner time has become an ongoing battle of the books, discussions and but I MUST read that…. LOL

new words, new meanings, mean girls, coming of age stories and coming out stories, meaning of life, and different cultures

I am sure there are worse battles to be had….

for now, just grateful for some easy peaceful time that allows us all to escape for a few hours, but then to reconvene and chat…snuggle….and also to create imagery via painting and create our own stories inspired by what we have read…

easy times at the moment, and I am just enjoying the presence of that

perhaps I will be motivated to find space and build more bookshelves lol

some current authors: Eva Ibbotson, Rick Riordan, Julie Kagawa, Elizabeth Laird, Paula Harrison, Malala, Sophie Gonzales, Anthony Horowitz….. then me Brene Brown, Dr Joe Dispenza, Bruce Lipton, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Josephine Angelini, Sarah Maas, and many many more

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