We talked face-to-face like it was the 90s again
February 23, 2018 9:14 AM   Subscribe

(Post title based off of James Figurine's 55566688833 [lyrics], from his 12 year old album)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:17 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I would like to take one day off from my phone a week - I just realistically don’t know how to do that without either staying home alone or creating rl problems. Meeting a friend for a movie? Won’t know if they’re running late. I don’t have a landline anymore, so they’d literally have no way to tell me about a cancelled plan. Do I tell everyone I won’t have my phone on Sundays? Do I go back to paper maps if I’m driving somewhere new?
Therese aren’t insurmountable. I think it could work, with just a few exceptions. I’m willing to give it a try.
posted by greermahoney at 9:42 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think it would be really fun to pretend to be in the 90s again when you wanted to go to the movies. Set the expectation in your friend group, either together or just for you. Meet at 8:00pm in the lobby. No, not that side of the lobby. You know the blue door entrance to the lobby? Yeah, right near there, by the women's bathroom. I'll wait until 8:15pm but if you're later than that, I'm gonna buy my own ticket and try to sit on the right side of theater. If you don't come after that, you can find me at McCrory's Bar on Maple.
posted by knownassociate at 9:46 AM on February 23, 2018 [29 favorites]

We'll only listen to artists who had mullets, like Billy Ray Cyrus and Nick Cave
posted by thelonius at 9:49 AM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can definitely endorse writing letters. If for no other reason but the physical-record aspect, which can be really important for historic, geneological, or sentimental reasons.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:58 AM on February 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

My daughters (six and three) have so far shown little interest in tablets and other devices with screens. They do like watching movies.

I go back and forth on whether that's good or bad. They need the skills to interact with the wider world they're joining, but also I find myself addicted to this shit and it's like... finding myself unable to ever stop eating packing foam.

I dunno. I really should scale back my usage both for my own sake and also my kids.
posted by selfnoise at 10:00 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Finding a party in college when I didn't have the exact address consisted of driving to the general area and then, like, listening for the sound of a party. It worked!
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:01 AM on February 23, 2018 [13 favorites]

I want so, SO badly to pry my son's eyes off his phone+Chromebook, because he gets all nasty & cranky when he's been playing that game for a while....but he's got a broken foot and it's winter. And he needs the Chromebook for homework and studying and all those stupid group projects to build slide decks. And he's logging stuff for his two last merit badges for Scouts. And the track coach uses a phone app to organize workouts. And he has to have the phone to let me know when to pick him up at work or practice. And he chats a lot with a cousin living a thousand miles away, which is awesome. And and and...

His younger brother has almost as bad an addition, though he is often reading books on his device. Their little sister is still not too bad, and the oldest one (now at college) is busy enough that she puts her phone & laptop aside for a while each day.

Shit, I don't know how their whole lives got tied up with these stupid screens. And as an IT pro I wish I was better at resisting the things myself. I just don't know.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:03 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Anyone else turn off audio alerts for just about everything except direct phone calls and maybe SMS messages? Because if it's not either of those two, it's likely stuff that can be viewed and responded to at my own convenience rather than at the sender's demand.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:08 AM on February 23, 2018 [15 favorites]

I feel like turning off the devices entirely would be substantially easier if I had more than one friend who lived within an hour of me, but with the way life is now, I don't honestly see much point in trying to make local friends, because I don't expect to live anywhere near here five years from now? But I have been trying hard to reduce the pointless "checking" part of digital life, especially in the evenings. I basically don't play mobile games at all anymore, and I really wish I could get some of my friends off of them, because it's rough to see friends with depression issues in particular getting sucked into games that have been specifically designed to do just that. I just think that the emphasis on screens is a little weird. Screens have movies or books on them, or my friends talking to me, or training stuff so I can get a better job. Non-screens, in the evening--I do have some physical books and the like, but I don't know how much attention people think my cats need. I swear, I'm not neglecting them, stop asking them because they lie... ahem.

If you aren't in a relationship and you don't have kids, I guess what I'm saying is, being able to socialize meaningfully over a screen is a really, really good skill to have, but that doesn't make everything you do on the internet meaningful and useful.
posted by Sequence at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

My daughter is two and does not use an ipad or play with my phone or watch tv. All the other kids we know do. I've seen potty's with a holder for your ipad. I can't imagine what this mass experience of always needing a screen to entertain you is doing to these kids.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:12 AM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have started to frame such pushback (in fits, starts, incremental experiments of limitation) as a hobby. I enjoy this hobby.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:16 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

My daughters (six and three) have so far shown little interest in tablets and other devices with screens. They do like watching movies.

My son is five and loves his tablet but does not really grok movies. (Too long, too scary, he can't deal.) My son uses his tablet very very differently from the way adults use their devices. I set it up so he only has access to the things I want him to have access to and as far as he's concerned his tablet has nothing to do with connecting with other people but is instead just a direct conduit to PBS Kids cartoon episodes + a voice recorder so he can make silly recordings + the interface that he uses play with his Bluetooth robot + Google Translate (he goes to a foreign language school so enjoys "conversing" with Google in the language he's learning). Except for watching cartoons, everything he does with his tablet is creative. He's making things, he's programming, he's experimenting with numbers using the calculator, or improving his foreign language skills with Translate or DuoLingo, he's learning the fundamentals of how cartoons work by using an app that allows you to make a rudimentary flip-book style animation (we've done those in meatspace too but so much wasted paper!).
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

S/o Center for Humane Technology's Time Well Spent Movement. Lots of very thoughtful suggestions, driven by some big names in tech.
posted by matrixclown at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you are worried about what outside entities did to the 2016 election with digital media, then you have another thing coming. That interference is nothing in comparison to what they are doing to our children every-single-minute-of-every-single-day. I listen to my grandson become enraged playing games, because there is no other human in the room, he doesn't have to behave in any particular way, but his nervous system, and fight or flight responses are being tuned to the pitch of someone in a real war zone. This is especially so if he is wearing headphones. I listen to him play, then I intervene when he has become ragged, and I find out if he needs to eat, and I explain to him if he is enraged, that is by design in the game. It is not real, but his emotions are real, and being trained to out of bounds reactivity. We will go do something, go outside, go for a bike ride, go for a walk. He is being mangled for some purpose. Then I hear him gaming with others whom he assumes are telling the truth when they say they are 13 years old and in Los Angeles, etc, I hear hem beg plead, get all freaked out when he dies, and I am appalled but I am grandma, and he depends on that machine for companionship when he is alone, he is an only child. Most parents who gamed when they were young just think it is all a normal part of growing up. Not really.
posted by Oyéah at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2018 [12 favorites]

In the 90s, I spent most of my time looking at CRTs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by tobascodagama at 10:19 AM on February 23, 2018 [12 favorites]

19 Reasons We Should All Start Writing Letters Again

Look at the Amish, I bet there are even more than 19 reasons to start driving buggies again.

(shhh don't mention the stuff that comes out of the horsies)
posted by sammyo at 10:27 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

My daughter is two and does not use an ipad or play with my phone or watch tv.

Our 19 month old has a tablet we just got her for a long plane trip, but she hasn't had one before and it didn't really work. She wouldn't wear headphones, and didn't have any experience with them so she kept trying to poke Dora in the face and making the show go away. I'm fine with her not having the experience, but it was interesting to see it as a "skill" she doesn't possess.

She does like playing with our phones, but bizarrely, she uses them as phones, holds them to her head and says "hi, yes, bye-bye." It's weird because we don't make that many phone calls. I have no idea when she had a chance to see that behavior enough to imitate it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:28 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is such a transition period, I can make a good case for a basic flip phone for usability, and am a pretty late adopter. Tech will hit a plateau at some point and a lot of these issues will find some stability if not an actual resolution. But the insane rate of change makes it hard to grasp what's actually happening let alone find solutions.
posted by sammyo at 10:31 AM on February 23, 2018

I like social media (particularly as a way to stay in touch with and coordinate with friends) and like having access to it, say, once a day, but have trouble with switching to it much more often because it's just there.

I've found a really useful trick is to (a) out log out completely every time and (b) have a ridiculously long, complicated password that I then have to painstakingly type in every time. I still want to access social media enough enough that it's worth doing once every day or so, but the effort of typing it in is enough that it dissuades me from mindless, casual use. I'm still in touch when I want to be, but much more consciously.
posted by dendritejungle at 10:32 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

She does like playing with our phones, but bizarrely, she uses them as phones, holds them to her head and says "hi, yes, bye-bye." It's weird because we don't make that many phone calls. I have no idea when she had a chance to see that behavior enough to imitate it.

Mine does this too and does it with her plastic toy phone. I have no idea why they pick up on that again considering how rarely a phone is used as a phone. But boy is it adorable.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:36 AM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I don't care if people are reading their phones while I'm watching tv in the same room or whatever, but the view of the back of a person's phone over lunch or in a bar makes me want to do violence. As soon as the phone comes out I literally just stop talking, even mid-sentence, unless they've made a concession to my presence first by explaining why screen interaction must happen right at that moment. A simple, "Excuse me one sec, I just got a text and it might be the dogsitter" is more than enough to placate me, but most people can't even be bothered to say that much.

For my own behavior, my rule of thumb is this: if it would be weird or rude to just whip out a book and start reading, then it's weird and rude to do anything with my phone. So, doctor's offices, public transit, waiting in line, those are all fine places to disconnect. I place no additional value on things like actual books or decks of cards merely because they exist in meatspace.

I'm glad I'm not a parent, because my brain tells me that hooking kids on flashy dopamine hit generators is a bad idea, but I know I'd just be like, "Shut up and take this ipad, leave me alone for ten minutes."
posted by xyzzy at 10:37 AM on February 23, 2018 [17 favorites]

Interesting conversation about these issues with Tristan Harris (of The Centre For Humane Technology) on Ezra Klein's podcast on Vox. They discuss going gray scale...
posted by Bartonius at 10:54 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

My parents had a no-TV rule (except for the occasional rented video) when I was a kid -- not just for me, but also for them. I also never had my own phone line, and while cell phones did start becoming a thing when I was in high school, I did not actually get one until college. I don't feel that it was some kind of puritanical deprivation. However, it's also true that TV is not a good analogue for modern phones, being pretty much a single-use device (at the time, anyway).

Anyway, I knew that smartphones are the norm nowadays and I'm an odd one out, but I didn't realize it was a subject of, like, Essays.

This whole "light phone" business is utterly unappealing to me -- my sticking to a flip phone isn't about avoiding distractions, it's partially about hating phone calls/unavoidable communication and partially about hating touchscreens. But I guess it looks prettier than the analogue-button flip phones that stores grudgingly keep around to sell to the vision-impaired. And even flip phones now come preloaded with "apps" and all sorts of infrastructure that make them take forever to turn on.
posted by inconstant at 10:55 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

For my own behavior, my rule of thumb is this: if it would be weird or rude to just whip out a book and start reading, then it's weird and rude to do anything with my phone.

Honestly this is why I think "phubbing" and all this outrage over people on their phones comes down to differences in the social acceptability of multitasking. My partner, their family, and myself are all high multitaskers--we're rarely doing one thing at once. It is incredibly common for us to meet up for dinner, and we'll talk for a while and when there's a lull in the conversation some of us pull out phones, and some of us pull out knitting, and some of us pull out books! Often we'll pick back up a couple minutes later, and continue to go back and forth between conversation and our books/phones/knitting. My entire life I have carried a book around and pulled it out in social situations, and the kind of people I hang out with are not the kinds of people who find that a problem.

My friends and family are also mostly people with low social batteries, and a lot of attention issues. We can't sustain those high levels of social interaction for two hours straight, but we can go back and forth between social interaction and other things and it's much more enjoyable for everyone involved. No one finds it weird or offensive because they all do it, and they know it's not about ignoring everyone around you. They know it's about sustaining their social batteries and attention for longer than would otherwise be possible.

I'm not saying no one can be upset at people pulling out their phone/book/knitting during social situations, just that proclamations that it's always rude ignores that it can serve a function, and in many social circles it's perfectly acceptable and even beneficial. Pretty much the only situations I consider it rude to pull out a book/phone/knitting is when I'm 1) attending a lecture/talk/movie, or 2) at a big important event like a wedding or a funeral. That's the same perspective most of my friends and family take, and so I frequently pull out a book or my phone or knitting when I'm around them and no one finds it rude. (Well, except strangers in restaurants who give us nasty looks some times, but I can't bring myself to care about that.) If I had a friend who was particularly bothered by it, I would make an attempt to refrain, but it wouldn't change my perception that it's really not that rude or weird in general--it's just something this particular person doesn't like, and I try not to do things my friends have expressed they don't like.
posted by brook horse at 10:58 AM on February 23, 2018 [13 favorites]

My son is 11 1/2, and is on the spectrum, but only just. He has no friends at school. I can count on one hand the number of playdates we've had in 7 years of public school.

But, what he does have is a group of diverse and far flung friends in his age group who he knows because we know their parents, and we all share the same (really nerdy) hobby. Kids in Delaware, New Jersey, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Kids who have grown up with him and who love him just as he is. Kids who are his friends, for sure, but who he only sees in person maybe 5-6 times a year.

Last year, one of the parents set up a slack channel that they all subscribe to, and they use Google hangouts for voice chat. They play games together online, share memes and experiences over the slack chat, and a bunch of them watched the Tesla launch together. They hang out, but just online.

Having this group available to him has been life changing. He's no longer lonely. He feels like he is a person of value. He has friends to talk to and laugh with, friends who share jokes and who support each other when things are rough. All in all, I'd say he spends about 2-3 hours online with them on school days, and some weekend days (particularly if the weather is bad) much more.

For sure, taking that away from him would have a big effect, but maybe not the one described here. I know the article is about phones, and his father and I certainly have days when we are each snuggled up together on the sofa or in bed reading or watching our playing our own thing on the phone, but everytime I read or see one of these "technology is destroying us" things I want to scream - NOT ALL OF US. NOT MY KID. His life is so much better because of the internet.
posted by anastasiav at 10:59 AM on February 23, 2018 [30 favorites]

...the view of the back of a person's phone over lunch or in a bar makes me want to do violence. As soon as the phone comes out I literally just stop talking, even mid-sentence, unless they've made a concession to my presence first by explaining why screen interaction must happen right at that moment.

You do you, but that is, IMHO, insufferable behavior on your part. If I'm at a bar by myself or eating lunch by myself and want to read on my phone or check texts or comment on Metafilter about phone etiquette, that's my business, and if you're going to expect me to notice your shame-silence, you'll be sorely disappointed, because you're not the boss of me or anyone else in the bar/restaurant. There is nothing weird or rude about reading a book at a bar, unless you think it is weird/rude not to keep yourself constantly open to the possibility that someone might want to talk to you, e.g. prioritizing the whims of others above yourself, which is an extremely problematic thing to try and shame other people into doing.

Reading at bars is normal.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:15 AM on February 23, 2018 [8 favorites]

brook horse, can I be your friend? That sounds great.
posted by tippiedog at 11:16 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

My tech and social media life:

Slack is a legit work tool and I'll never have the choice of opting out of that because I need it to communicate with team members and senior partners in my workplace.

MetaFilter and Mastodon are pretty much my social media/news interactions these days. I have Instagram and Twitter but they're slowly being phased out, only reason I'm still on twitter is for about 5-6 humans I love who aren't up for moving to Mastodon no matter how much I talk about it's awesomeness.

I text about 5-6 people on a regular basis and most of those are family members.

I know one thing that has improved my life on Mastodon is making a rule to only follow humans and to actively avoid news/media accounts. It makes the interactions in social media so much lighter and care free. And while of course there are going to be some news and Trump like things that filter in, for the most part, my feed is curated to avoid those subjects.

I'm getting older and I think that's one reason why I'm also narrowing my social media and technology inputs/outputs. I am focusing more on the people in my life and the things I want to do.

Do you as you do you. Find a balance and make it work.
posted by Fizz at 11:17 AM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

...Says the guy who can't sit with his hands still. I've been known to try doing needlepoint at work meetings, which never works as well in practice as I would like.
posted by tippiedog at 11:18 AM on February 23, 2018

This is what it's like to not own a smartphone in 2018

I own a smartphone but I live in a dumb region (reception wise) so I can relate. But even when I didn't live in this region, I always made it a point to go for a walk (with errands) mid day sometime without my phone ... unless there was something genuinely pressing going on, which did not include what somebody might have to say in response to my response to their response to that Facebook thing about which Genesis was better, the one with or without Peter Gabriel.

Anyway, I do feel that we've reached a very stupid place in our culture in terms of these devices, and the amount of our conscious, waking lives we give to them. Of course, the tech itself has all kinds of positive uses, but you can say the same for cars -- it doesn't negate the fact that most of things we do with them, we don't really need to, we do them out of habit, laziness, etc, and they're all kinds of destructive to both ourselves and our environment, and way too much of this is driven by marketing, profit-motive, shareholder greed (cars, that is).

Assuming the world actually survives into a foreseeable future, I'm pretty confident that the historians of then will be scratching their heads at the various choices we've collectively made (consciously and otherwise) over the past fifteen years in particular ... toward everybody NEEDING these device in their possession at all times. And again, who's been driving the need and why have we so eagerly wandered into that valley of shadow?

Also, from last week's Globe + Mail: Can we ever kick our smartphone addiction?

Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain's Way of Healing. He is on the Research Faculty at Columbia University's Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and on the faculty at the University of Toronto's Department of Psychiatry.

Jim Balsillie is former chairman and co-CEO of Research in Motion (now known as BlackBerry Ltd.) and co-founder of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

They held their discussion, by phone and over e-mail, in January and February.

posted by philip-random at 11:20 AM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

grumpybear69, I'm pretty sure that xyzzy was talking about people who pull out their phones while xyzzy is dining / drinking / hanging out / actively engaged in talking with *them*, not arguing that those who are peaceably reading (in whatever format, analog or digital) are rude for doing so when on their own in public.
posted by halation at 11:24 AM on February 23, 2018 [15 favorites]

Gumpybear, I don't care if you're sitting alone or with someone else and playing with your phone. If you came to the bar with me, though, and you randomly whip out your phone and start playing with it? That is rude.
posted by xyzzy at 11:24 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ah! Well, that makes more sense. I was imagining you scanning the room for people on their phones and walking up to them with a menacing stare.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:25 AM on February 23, 2018

If you came to the bar with me, though, and you randomly whip out your phone and start playing with it?

Maybe you're just not a very fun drinking buddy.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:27 AM on February 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Some points, in no particular order but numbered never the less...

1) If my teenage children look at their phones during a meatspace moment, they are severely and instantly shamed. They protest that such behaviour isn’t “rude” in their circles. “Maybe you’re right, but it’s certainly rude to do to your Nana,” I tell them; “Adapting to different norms in different situations is called mode switching. Be aware what mode is appropriate, and switch to it.”

2) Does it count if I look at my watch? Tehnically it’s my watch looking at the phone, so I’m in the clear, right? Arm’s length relationship.

3) A lot of the things people say about the negative social consequences of telephones were also used as ammo in the battles against adoption of paperback novels and, before that, cafés. I have some suspicion fire was also forced to run a comparable gauntlet of criticism. “We used to sleep at night and get our rest, but now we hang around fires telling stories. Where will this madness lead us?”

4) My children grew up with a total household ban on television. We had no electronic games or game systems. The effect of these austerities on attenuating their teenage interest in social screen-time? Zero. They are just as desperate for virtual authentic connection as any of their peers who grew up watching TV or playing video games.

5) Pardon me while I sound particularly like an old man, but isn’t self-control a thing anymore? Isn’t it virtuous to be temperate? If we feel ourselves or society is failing to self-meter access to indulgences, the response has to be education on the subject of good character so we can improve personal discipline. I don’t think asking for protections in the form of rules or laws or concessions from the people whose livelihoods depend on the addictive qualities of electronics is the best way to curb the worst behaviours. We have to make the conscious choice to sometimes let the devices be, and ignore their wails, and let them cry themselves to sleep.

6) Going for a flip phone to limit stimuli seems weird to me, if it amounts to any kind of bother. A normal smart telephone can easily be put in its place using a harsh voice and proper notification settings. You can’t be distracted by games on your phone if you don’t install games. Similarly you can disable/mute/suppress texting and electronic mailing. Don’t add social apps. Don’t sign in. Don’t connect. Making your phone largely shut up is an investment of time equal to watching an episode of a sit-com. Google what confuses you and muzzle every perk and pop and poke and peek. Unless I’m missing the point altogether — is the flip-phone itself, as an object, an important shibboleth signalling non-confirmity?

7) This comment was dictated to a man who wrote it out in longhand, with little curlicues and complications, which was rolled up and sent to a woman who read it, and transcribed it into a binary smoke-signal protocol, and lit a fire, and sent up puffs of smoke visible to an eagle trained to ride a camel, whose subsequent steering across the face of a desert that shall remain nameless was imaged by a satellite, decrypted with a specially equipped decoder ring by a radio-obsessed child from the mid twentieth century, and finally beamed to the proper point in time via a wormhole raised and cared for without cruelty by vegan physicists. No phones were involved.
posted by Construction Concern at 11:29 AM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Tippiedog: My sister in law does needlepoint in all kinds of situations! Unfortunately she has had the same experience that it rarely works well for social multitasking and frequently has to rip it out and redo it. I'm not really surprised because I definitely couldn't multitask knitting if the pattern involves any kind of colorwork. Something simple and single colored though? Absolutely. In the same way I can socially multitask a YA novel but not China Mieville, and I can multitask Animal Crossing Pocket Camp but not a full second conversation over Messenger. It's all about balance. I find having something with relatively low (but still some!) mental effort that gives me something to do with my hands keeps my overactive brain from wandering and greatly heightens my ability to socialize.
posted by brook horse at 11:32 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm interested in harm reduction strategies. (Twitter and FB are necessary for me for career reasons).

For me that starts with reducing or eliminating notifications on my smart phone, not just sounds but the various "badges" and whatnot.

My wife took it a step further, removing Facebook and Twitter from her smartphone (but she still checks, occasionally, on her laptop).

Any other thoughts along those lines?
posted by msalt at 11:42 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

anastasiav: His life is so much better because of the internet.

While the million+ kid survey aggregates a lot of information, and in doing so smooths out the outliers who rely on the internet and connected devices for social interaction, it also notes that kids who have no internet access (and have peers who do, I surmise) are also less happy. There's a sweet spot:
According to the survey data, "the teens who spend a little time — an hour or two hours a day [on their devices] — those are actually the happiest teens," [Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University] says.
For more guidance, The American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidance for digital device use in 2016. Among the AAP recommendations:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
Our kids, 3 and 6, get some screen time, varying greatly depending on the day and how much energy we all have. Our 3 year old has taken to looking things up on what he says is "my pretend phone," and he says "look up, look up, look up" while poking an invisible device, as he's picked up the fact that my wife and I often respond to questions we can't instantly answer by saying "let me look that up on my phone."

At school, our 6 year old has been improving his fine motor skills for a few years, and that includes using a mouse on a computer. I think he's now using mousing skills to navigate educational testing and games at school.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:59 AM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I still only have a dumb phone (Nokia 301!). Mostly I'm too cheap to be bothered with a smartphone, but I also don't want to give up the long battery life, tiny size, and indestructibility of my dumb phone. Phone calls and text messages are good enough for me. I have no interest in judging anyone else on their smartphones. I just use what I like. But it drives me crazy how many people insist on commenting and teasing me about my phone.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm interested in harm reduction strategies. (Twitter and FB are necessary for me for career reasons).

For me that starts with reducing or eliminating notifications on my smart phone, not just sounds but the various "badges" and whatnot.

I keep my smartphone on all the time, and always near me, but I turn off data for my personal phone, so I don't get any notice pings most of the day. I'll turn on wifi at home or at friends' homes, but I generally leave my phone somewhere and check it every half hour or hour, as I'm usually up to something else while at home. Ditto no Facebook app installed, and I'm not active on any other social platforms.

Also, while driving, keep your phone in the glove box or some other closed space to avoid the temptation to check it while driving, and mute it if it's not already silent.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm 29 now: I was once one of those lonely, culturally isolated kids without a lot of nearby friends, just like anastasiav's son. What I did have was the Internet, and parents who trusted my judgement enough to let me use it unsupervised. I got through those years of boredom and frustration with an online social group I acquired on a Cowboy Bebop message board (I was enormously cool). I read a lot, learned a lot, developed creative interests, and interacted with a lot of fantastic adults who were good influences on me. I developed a more sophisticated political awareness at a younger age than I would have without it: I didn't have to rely on TV and the news to seek out the contextual information I needed. The vast majority of the teenagers and young people I met on that ridiculous anime message board have gone on to very successful and happy lives, and we're still in touch with one another. Count me as another voice who's in favor of a certain kind of productive, creative screen-time.

It is true that Facebook and Twitter are exquisitely designed to light-up the addiction centers of our brains in ways that old-school message boards weren't. I had to very intentionally draw back my social media use big-time last year, after I realized that I was spending most of my waking hours both immensely angry and immensely terrified by the unending stream of horror. I've returned to a lot of my teenage Internet habits: using bookmarks! Typing URLs into my browser! Mostly lurking on Metafilter! I feel better now.

Regarding the youth-focused theme of this post: look, I think that today's kids are better and smarter about social media then people my age are. They're already shunning Facebook, they've lived with social media for long enough to have a decent sense of what the manipulating factors are and what the dangers are. They are MUCH better at safely and sanely using social media, in my observation, than people my parents age are.

When I watch people out and about who can't stop staring at their phones, it is often the middle-aged who seem most trapped in a refresh-loop. I also wonder if looking at a phone is really so different from looking at a television all day, as older generations are more likely to do. (There is some data on this: for example, baby boomers are most likely to use technology of sone kind during meals, according to a recent Nielsen survey).

Finally, if you're interested in the Internet and how it impacts our ability to focus, I really enjoyed Sven Birkert's "Changing the Subject." It's a thoughtful meditation on the meaning of these technologies, without the crotchety shallowness of a lot of the other writing on the topic. It also got me to read Siegfried Lenz's The German Lesson, which is now one of my favorite novels.
posted by faineg at 12:55 PM on February 23, 2018 [9 favorites]

> Construction Concern: "A lot of the things people say about the negative social consequences of telephones were also used as ammo in the battles against adoption of paperback novels and, before that, cafés"

Dude. It's been two centuries, take a hint.
posted by signal at 1:08 PM on February 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I have all notifications except actual phone calls and text messages blocked on my phone.

I don't have any social media apps on my phone.

I unfollowed everybody except wife and kids on Facebook, so even when I go there my wall is pretty much empty so I don't stick around.

I've been much happier since implementing all of this.
posted by COD at 1:26 PM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I wonder what it would cost the US post office to let every school child in the country send a free letter once a year, and whether it would help turn around the slide in letter writing? Every class could get some paper, envelopes, and school-only stamps. Try to combine it with a field trip to the post office to get that stuff and to see how to use a public mail box. Show kids how they can personalize letters in ways they can't with electronics, like sending a lipstick kiss, a touch of perfume, a lock of hair, stickers, ticket stubs, and real handwriting and drawings.
posted by pracowity at 1:52 PM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Increased screen-time for teens impacts psychological well-being

Except that Twenge is a scaremonger, headline grabber, and a peddler of junk science.
posted by runcibleshaw at 2:38 PM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by runcibleshaw at 2:40 PM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Every year I “fast” from something for lent - this year it’s charging my phone, except on Sundays. In other words, I have to make it a week on a single charge, which means it’s there when I need I it but I have to be very thoughtful about when I use it. It’s been a pretty good way to detox without going cold turkey and being lost - I recommend it.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 2:54 PM on February 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm still waiting to get my first mobile. I promised I would get one just like our kid's when he gets his first one. He's 7, so I still have a little time. No rush.

But I would have killed for one when I was a teenager using a party line.
posted by pracowity at 3:32 PM on February 23, 2018

Anyone else turn off audio alerts for just about everything except direct phone calls and maybe SMS messages?

The only times my phone can make noise or vibrate:
1) Calls from ~10 specific people
2) Weather alerts
3) My morning alarm
posted by Jacqueline at 3:46 PM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I removed all social media apps from my phone except for Twitter (which is only logged in to my podcast account and even then I admit I am now shit at using it) and Instagram (which I love but stop checking as frequently because I cannot stand that the photos aren't in chronological order). I don't need to use my phone at new job so I just leave it in my bag. I check email and texts on my break. I need to remove a couple of games I love off it but other than that, I am trying not to rely on it. One of the hardest things is not to play around on it while I'm watching a movie (at home) or tv.
posted by Kitteh at 4:58 AM on February 25, 2018

I starting to think having a phone for just texting/calling and a tablet with data may be the best, partly because it makes it easier to take a day off from the tablet and still have some communication available.
posted by typecloud at 8:16 AM on February 26, 2018

The Subtle Nudges That Could Unhook Us From Our Phones (Robbie Gonzalez for Wired, March 2, 2018) What if tech companies warned us that we were over-using their apps? Yeah, that's what he has, not "turn off all auto-notifications for non-critical apps."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:54 AM on March 2, 2018

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