By Bailey Danielson, Age 19
After a lot of persistence accompanied by complaints of being the only one of my friends without a phone, my parents finally gave in. I got my first phone late compared to my peers. I was nearing the end of Middle School already. Why shouldn’t I have a phone at that point?
I didn’t have a real reason to need a phone. I merely wanted one because everyone else had one. “You want me to be the weird kid?” seemed to be a good selling point for me, and I ran with it.
The tech savvy world from a tech savvy teen
Being a teen immersed in one of the first generations that got phones at young ages, I’ve seen how it can be used for both good and evil.
I am a full believer in that teens without phones are unfairly, although not purposely, ostracized by their peers. Who’s all going to the sleepover? Everyone in the group chat for it. Sometimes it’s not even because teens don’t make the effort; it’s because “I forgot to tell my mom to call your mom” or “my mom forgot to call your mom” issues that all could have been avoided if the teen just had a phone.
Given that, it’s a shame that this is the case. The tech world is a scary place. I easily concede to that. Meeting and forming bonds with strangers is easy and becoming normal when it shouldn’t be. Stranger Danger is still very relevant.
I consider myself a bit abnormal as a teen. Part of me wants to make this distinction between myself and a lot of my peers merely because I see them do stupid, unsafe, and common senseless things with and even without their phones. Although, a majority of these actions take place on and because of phones.
Safety versus Success
When it comes to phones and social media, I bet every parent considers common sense to be in the premises of don’t post stupid content and don’t interact with strangers. Well, unlike parents, teens would consider tech common sense to be in the vicinity of post during prime traffic hours, post content that makes me look cool, and get as many followers, likes, and comments as possible. Beyond this, a lot of what is common sense for teens helps them outsmart their parents when it comes to restrictions and monitoring.
I’ve never had to outsmart my parents and I still can tell you a boatload of ways I could get around whatever monitoring or restrictions they could set in place. Vault apps, hiding apps, non-permanent deletions, using code words or emoji are all basic strategies that come to mind without any effort. With the tech savvy generation, there always seems to be a loophole.
In their endeavors, kids aren’t trying to be malicious; they just want to fit in and have freedom. The conflict between parents and teens about social media usage isn’t complicated. Common sense for parents means safety, but that safety hinders what common sense means for teens: success.
Bridging the Gap
As a teen, I would suggest not approaching the situation authoritatively, but instead with a willingness and eagerness to understand. If there is some underlying reason they hunger for social media success, other solutions may be more suitable.
Setting boundaries may be the best solution in general, but make sure to compromise. If you set boundaries that are too restrictive and obviously based on only or mainly your version of common sense, they’ll just use their common sense to get around them. When bridging the gap, compromises will be your best friend. When done right, it’ll be your teen’s best friend too, and the responsible one at that.