Anti-Social Networking: Alex, Chris

Tips for the Tech Addict
One tech-savvy teen tries to give up his cell phone for 24 hours. Can he do it?

 

"Did you start shaking?" Dr. Phil asks Alex.

"I didn't start shaking, not yet," he says.

Dr. Phil says he's surprised at the numbers: 73 texts but only four calls while Alex had his phone off for a day. "Does nobody talk anymore?" he asks.

"No, no one talks anymore, because everyone just wants a text, because they don't want to be denied social interactions anymore," Alex says. He explains that if someone doesn't respond to a text, it's no big deal, but if someone doesn't answer your call, or doesn't call you back, it's insulting.

[AD]"So you're hiding behind the keyboard," Dr. Phil surmises.

"Essentially, yeah," he says.

Dr. Phil asks about breaking up with someone over a text. "Are young people doing that?"

"They are, because nowadays, if you break up with them over a text, you don't have to face them anymore," Alex says. Although he's never done it, he says he has been broken up with over text message. "It was very odd, like, you couldn't call me, at least, or tell me in person?"

Social media expert Chris Brogan joins the conversation. He is the author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. He agrees that some kids get too caught up in it. He gives his tips for the tech addicted family: "Like with all things, it's all in moderation. I mean, you need to start setting some boundaries. One would be to keep screen time away from the table. 'If we're having a meal, this should be a no devices meal.'" He also recommends finding activities to do over the weekend that you can talk about on your social networking profiles come Monday.

[AD]Dr. Phil cautions parents. "If they become so dependant on this, to define themselves and decide who they are, what happens when all of that input goes against them? You know, we have what I call keyboard bullies. All of a sudden the girls at school decide your daughter is not in the in crowd anymore, and so they start getting on Facebook, MySpace, chat rooms and telling them horrible things. If they have defined themselves so much by these connections over the Internet, and those turn negative, it can really destroy their self-esteem and create problems. And we've all heard the stories of the people who have actually committed suicide because they're getting so attacked. If you're allowing your child to be defined by that sort of thing, then you're way out of control."