Oregon mother sues Meta over daughter’s digital addiction: How is your digital stewardship?

" a mother in Oregon is suing... arguing that their respective applications have caused her fourteen-year-old daughter to become so addicted to her phone that 'she would get very physical, violent, verbal with me' when the mother attempted to take her daughter’s phone away." - Denison Forum

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The article has some good thoughts on tech in general but omits the most practical advice for parents: it's your job to be in control.

If I was Meta, my defense would include a point along the lines of "We're not responsible for your failure to parent." ... not that I mean to absolve Meta. But at 14, my parents were in control of my contact with the world outside my home. Some would say I was "sheltered," etc. This was supposed to be a bad thing. Looking back, there was a bit too much isolation, sure. But how parents use their control is not the point. The point is they were in control. I did the same with my own children.

Staying in control means kids don't have a device in their hands that gives them access to the entire world any time they like independently of parental oversight. If the tech takes that control away from parents, kids shouldn't have the tech. If they need a phone for safety purposes at that age, give them a flip phone that can call and text and nothing more.

(There is software you can put on devices to filter, limit time, etc. also, but on android devices, I've found it to be unreliable: it just stops working or kids find a way to uninstall it.)

It's hard on kids to not be "normal" in the sense of "doing the same things as all the other kids." I remember the sting of that growing up. It was worth it. During formative years, kids need sheltering. Not fitting in is part of the price. Getting used to not fitting in is a plus in it's own right, though, hard as it is when you're a teen or a pre-teen. Christians should grow up feeling keenly, sometimes painfully, that "I'm different. I'm not going to fit in. I'm a follower of Christ and a follower of wisdom in a world full of folly."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Donn R Arms's picture

No one is "addicted" to phones. The word is diluted by such usage. This is a habit, that can be changed. Sorry mom, you are responsible for helping your child develop good habits.

Donn R Arms

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It is unfortunate that many are using the word addiction in reference to pretty much any strong bad habit.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

dgszweda's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

It is unfortunate that many are using the word addiction in reference to pretty much any strong bad habit.

I think that if we gloss this over as just a bad habit we miss some of the serious underlying conditions that can be exhibited here.  It is easy for those who don't struggle with this, to quickly classify it as a bad habit and to just change the child's behavior as adults.  But this is akin to telling someone who struggle with alcoholism that they just need to "stop drinking".  There are significant physiological challenges for many to overcome gaming addiction.  It is classified as a disease by WHO and the ICD-11 and is being considered in DSM-5.  It is often aligned with other disorders like anxiousness, compulsive behaviors, anxiety and depression.  There is no doubt some control that parents can have, but in other cases it is a symptom or behavior of other underlying conditions.  I don't have anxiety about flying, but others do.  For me to simply say that you need to just read about the safety of flying and just overcome it, would be to trivialize the real issue.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

the serious underlying conditions that can be exhibited here. 

I believe most bad habits have serious underlying conditions. The question is whether they're primarily chemical or character or spiritual, or some combination of all of the above.

My point isn't to deny that chemicals are involved. Or even that real addictions happen in context that seem unlikely. My point was that the word addiction is way way overused. Tragically it's often used in a disempowering way, suggesting to people that they have less capacity for change than they actually do.

The capacity for change, whether it's easy or extremely difficult, is still capacity for change... And this is true whether the problem is a little bit chemical or mostly chemical or whatever the distribution might be.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

dgszweda's picture

My concern was that you said that many are using addiction for pretty much any strong habit.  The point I was making is that there is a distinction between habit and addiction, and that involves the capacity for change.  A habit is typically defined as something that an individual can undertake to change.  An addiction is typically more disruptive and requires external help for that individual to make the change.  That could involve something as small as limited counseling to full blown medication.  While some people do misuse the terminology, I was trying to point out that digital addiction is many cases is more substantial than a bad habit.  For some who are overly consumed with digital elements, than can break the habit, and in those cases it would be termed a bad habit.  But there is a growing trend of deeper issues associated with digital addiction that clearly frame it as an addiction.  Some may be related to underlying psychological issues and some shouldn't.  But if the individual is unable to affect the change, and the change is impactful to their behavior and relationships, than it is an addiction, and you cannot simply say "stop".  To many Christians are scoffing at the idea of someone involved with video games, social media, forums.... is struggling wtih the issue, and that they just need to change their behavior, and I can tell you, that this is not always the case, and in a rapidly growing arena is increasingly not becoming the case.