Evasion

burnerphones

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 4:19

Disobedience is not new. Children have always sought ways to evade parental control, particularly when they become adolescents. I often tell parents that you can tell when a child becomes an adolescent:  it’s when they became deaf overnight.

Most parents nod their heads when I say that. I would be remiss in not saying that adolescents eventually grow out of it and become adults.

It  might not surprise you, but I wasn’t a perfect child and had my own measure of rebellion. Nothing bad, mind you, but my group of friends always had a secret going on that parents didn’t know (or at least we didn’t think so).

At least my disobedience was neither harmful nor addictive.

Fast forward to the digital natives of today, where a “friend” is at their fingertips, 24/7. They don’t have to go next door or down the street to connect.

They are constantly connected, which can have some bad consequences. A recent UK study shows a dramatic increase in myopia (nearsightedness) caused by teenagers spending too much screen time. The number of kids needing glasses has almost doubled in the past 7 years.

Parents struggle to monitor their children’s screen behavior. Cellphones can be useful, but too much of a good thing can be bad. In the case of mobile phones, it can lead to addiction which I have detailed previously.

No parent would ever knowingly give their child an addictive drug, yet they give in to the peer pressure by letting their children have phones, often unsupervised.

Addiction comes in many forms – it can be drugs, alcohol, even sex, but the most prevalent addiction for adolescents is phone addiction.

There is now a recognized disorder called “nomophobia”, or the fear about being without a mobile phone or having mobile contact. Nomophobia is a growing trend among the next generation over the past 5 years.

There is a disturbing the increase in the of burner phones use by Gen Z. Parents who try to limit their kids use of cell phones haven’t realized that this is the latest work around. Rationing the use of a cell phone only works if there is only one phone.

One parent had a 9 pm curfew where their three Gen Z children had to surrender their cell phones for the night  Their rule met with a lot of backbiting for a while, and then the children stopped complaining. The parents thought that was unusual.

That’s when they found out about burner phones. This is a phone that is disposable, cheap, and can be obtained at any school from some kid who sells them from his locker. Burner phones are available in almost every high school in the country according to a retired police detective.

For millions of Gen Z, the burner phone is the second or even third phone that their parents don’t know about. Having a burner phone is a telltale sign of phone addiction.  Sometimes, they are phones that have been replaced with newer ones, but they still can access the internet.

Tim Elmore has conducted focus group of middle and high school students. He has found that middle schoolers readily admit to being addicted to their phones. It’s not just for texting, but they are being used for posting on social media platforms unknown to parents like “Finsta” – the “fake Instagram” account.

As in any addiction, Gen Z kids have to find another source to satisfy their “substance” need – in this case a phone instead of drugs or alcohol.

Some suggestions for parents:

  • Have a written “contract” that defines the boundaries of cell phone use. Enforce it.
  • Monitor your kids’ online activity – track the hours and usage. If you see a sudden decrease, it might be because of a burner phone.
  • Discuss the ground rules and live by them. Discuss the dangers of social media.
  • Consider getting a newer router that can block certain apps and websites as well as alert you if unknown devices access your Wi-Fi.
  • Underscore the “trust” factor with your kids. Once it is violated, it has to be earned back.

The existence of a phone in a teenagers hands has some significant downside. There are even legislative initiatives  to “fight the digital drug” by curbing the “tricks” used by technology companies to get teens hooked digitally.

The digital world is here to stay. Parents, educators and mentors need to learn more about how to supervise limits for the next generation. That includes keeping current with trends that they might have missed, such as burner phones or Finsta.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentors can help in this process by asking their mentees hard questions about their use of phones to be sure they are not addicted.

FURTHER READING:

Dark Consensus about Screens and Kids Emerge in Silicon  Valley  – Axios

Parents Hire Coaches to Teach them to Live Without ScreensScary Mommy

Burner Phones– Growing Leaders

Fighting the Digital Drug– World Magazine

Teens Smuggle Burner Phones to Defy Parents Wall Street Journal

Fighting the Digital Drug

Teenagers Needing Glasses from Too Much Screen Time

WORSHIP: Listen to Christy Nockels sing Waiting Here for You

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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