Aug
02
2010

Originally posted in The Globe and Mail

Dear Dr. Wolf,

Is it possible to be addicted to texting? Our 14-year-old daughter has become so attached to her phone, we are beginning to worry about her. Although her marks are still excellent, she shows little interest in things she used to enjoy, such as reading and spending family time with us and her brother. Texting her friends has become the most important thing in her life, and she is sometimes in contact with as many as eight or 10 friends at once. We have imposed a daily three-hour no-texting window, but when the phone is off for those three hours, she seems antsy, fidgety and unable to focus on anything, which increases our concern. Do you have any advice for us?

Concerned Parent

A sample of typical teen messaging:

Kelsey texting her good friend Anyssa: “Did you notice how Lauren was ignoring Laura today at lunch?”

“You noticed too?”

“Yes. What’s going on between them?”

Simultaneously, Kelsey texting Logan (a boy who is a friend): “You were so rude to Kimmie today.”

“What did I do?”

Simultaneously, Kelsey receiving a text from Angela: “Tell me what you really think about my haircut.”

“I really like it.”

“You’re lying.”

“I’m not. It’s really cute.”

Why do they text all the time? It is being connected to what’s going on. It is being connected to the world of people you care about. It is a world that is not static – it constantly moves along, ever changing – and is of intense interest, especially if there is anything that pertains to you.

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Jul
21
2010

Those of you looking for a fascinating afternoon read, check out this story about Jeffrey Perrot

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Jul
20
2010

Originally posted in The Globe and Mail

If you don’t leave alcohol, money or prescription drugs lying around, chances are the worst they’ll get up to is sleeping and playing video games all day

“Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. Home alone. This is so cool. Now I get to do anything I want and there’s nobody here to stop me or even know that I’m doing it. Am I going to have a good time.”

“Yes, that is exactly what I worry about. Now that it’s summer, and he has no school; and I have to work and he hasn’t been able to get a job, he’s going to be home alone for these big chunks of time with zero supervision. It would be great if I could afford to get him into a good summer program. But I can’t. It’s my nightmare. All the trouble he’s going to get into at the house.”

Oh boy.

In a world where most parents work, and have little ability to dictate their hours, summer with young teenagers presents a problem. Can they, if necessary, be left for hours with no adult at home?

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Jul
05
2010

Originally published in The Globe and Mail

1. If they have a good time, that’s great. But don’t spend too much effort trying to make them have a good time. Don’t be too disappointed if the vacation does not work out for them. You can’t force someone to enjoy themselves. Also, teens often get a lot more out of a vacation than you think. You just don’t get to see it: “Like I’m going to say, ‘Oh. Wow. This is great.’ to my parents. I don’t think so.”

2. Electronic devices are good. During the year, you may cut back and limit their use, but on family vacations – especially for long car trips – they’re a blessing. You’ll definitely get less of this: “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.” There’s always something to do when you have the electronic world at your finger tips.
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