Resources and discussion for parents, teachers and young people navigating the evolving landscape of the digital world.

Friday, May 1, 2015

FOMO and the "Cellphone Bypass"

I've had a revelation! In the past several weeks, since our parent workshop, I've been mulling over this idea of what I have come to call the "cellphone bypass." When our children have the means to communicate directly with each other (through their phones or other personal devices), home phones are pretty irrelevant. Many people don't even have a common family phone line any more! So no longer is there a person calling your house, asking to speak to an adult about an upcoming event, or even asking a child directly about something while they are on the phone in a common space where the parental units are likely to overhear the conversation and perhaps ask, "What's going on? Is this something I should know about?" Nothing earth-shattering in this realization, obviously, but I'm having a personal epiphany here...indulge me.

Until today, I have been considering the "bypass" mostly from the perspective of the grumpy mom who is the last to find out when her kids are planning something that no one has bothered to tell her about, or give her any details that she considers ESSENTIAL to life planning. And as the keeper of the family calendar, and as the Director of Driving Operations, I need to be informed. Gone are the days when invitations to parties arrived by mail, when calls came to the house and adults exchanged information. In many cases, kids are attempting to just "handle it" on their own because they can easily talk to each other through their individual devices. I hope I'm not the only parent who finds this annoying a lot of the time.

Today, however, I had a different thought about it. Adults perpetually lament teens' attachment to their phones ("Can you put that DOWN for a few minutes, please?") and the myriad drawbacks we see to their constant connection to others through a screen. The term FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is an ailment afflicting people everywhere who stay constantly connected because they don't want to miss anything!

Well guess what? I have it. Not the kind that makes me want to check my own phone constantly, because I can take it or leave it, and I'm often quite happy to leave it. But I have the kind of FOMO that resents the cell phone bypass because it cuts me out of the process. I'm out of the loop. Plans are getting made without me. I'm essential to fulfilling those commitments and making sure the plans actually happen, but I don't get brought in until late in the process. And I bluster and complain and whine about it...but what I really feel? 

A little sad, if I'm honest. 

I still want to be involved and included. A part of my kids' lives. The way I used to be when they were little and everything went through me first. ACK! When did I become this person?

#FOMO #thestruggleisreal