Offline is the new luxury (19)

How often do you want to be distracted by your smartphone, and what exactly do you gain from it? Each Friday, Irene, who together with Astrid is the founder of Flow, writes about this particular issue. This week, she struggles with the rules she has to set her son.

Not long ago, Jocelyn (who used to work here at Flow and still regularly writes about being offline for us) shared this film—which is about millenials and fairly confrontational I might add—on Facebook.  

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In the film, author and consultant Simon Sinek discusses millennials, and what he has to say made me somewhat sad. You see, millennials (those aged around 18 to 36) really do struggle, and this is partly due to technology. Because, yup, the phone ensures the production of dopamine—the very same chemical that is created when you are addicted to alcohol or drugs or gambling—all day long. And the crazy thing is: we apply rules when it comes to alcohol, drugs and gambling, but when it comes to the phone, we just turn a blind eye. I do worry about its impact on the youth of today, and often wonder how strict I should be regarding it with my son (who is 14). More often than not, I’m too lazy to get into (yet another) discussion about it, and I simply let him be. But according to Sinek, this is precisely the same as flinging the door to the drinks cabinet wide open and declaring “Go ahead, help yourself. Do whatever you want.” Now that I am writing this blog, I am much more conscious of such matters, and I don’t allow him to have his phone in his bedroom at night anymore (and as you can imagine, it’s a battle each and every evening…). But I am also conscious of the fact that I must set a good example myself. So I no longer sneak surreptitious peeks at my phone while we are at the table eating, I don’t reach out for it too often whenever we are together, and I try to create lots more cozy “kids-mobiles-off-and-let’s-spend-some-us-time-together” moments. It’s not always easy to do—I admit it can be a struggle—but I try very hard to make my kids (and myself) more aware and conscious of phone usage.

Luckily, I also read something quite funny about the whole smartphone hoo-ha recently. It turns out that millennials eat out more often than people in their forties and fifties, and this is partly due to the fact that they spur each other on to post photos of their meal on social media when they’re in a restaurant. All of a sudden, I was thrown a few years into the future, when I will be able to see what my son is eating, and where. Oh and how thankful I will be to the smartphone for giving me the opportunity to snoop—sorry, look—at everyone’s plates!