Colleen: Young girls and phones and the patterns we teach

Sep 29, 2023, 8:12 AM | Updated: 10:39 am

girls phones teach...

File - The Instagram logo is seen on a cell phone, Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston. Google, Facebook, TikTok and other Big Tech companies operating in Europe are facing one of the most far-reaching efforts to clean up what people encounter online. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

This week, Dave and I spoke to New York Times reporter Jessica Bennett, who studied 13-year-old girls for a year, to learn more about their relationship with phones and social media and the impacts on their mental health.

It wasn’t pretty.

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“The prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain associated with decision-making, impulse control, these sort of markers that you have to stop yourself from doing something, are not fully developed until you’re like in your early 20s,” Bennett said. “For girls, especially, estrogen is through the roof. It’s like they’re having these huge feelings. And I don’t know that they’re fully equipped or even conscious yet of being able to talk about them in a healthy way.”

I was in 10th grade when I got my first phone. It was a Nokia. I don’t remember the model number.

But you know, the type only had the game snake on it (I was really good at that.) Texting took forever because you had to press the number two button three times to get the letter C and so on.

That was roughly the year 2000, and a phone hasn’t left my hand since.

In fact, the cell phone has only become more a part of my life. It went from an accessory in my hand to part of my hand.

And yet, as an adult, as a parent, I find myself counting down from 10 to call my annoyance after finding my 10-year-old with an iPad, two inches from her eyes, unable to even hear me say hello. Hey, pot. Meet kettle.

“Who taught you how to do this stuff?” a father said.

“You are right. I learned it by watching you,” a kid said.

You know that famous drug PSA from the 1980s? Oh boy, did this remind me of that.

In conclusion, Jessica said there are still unknown effects and inconclusive studies on phone and social media use and teen girls. But I know exactly what happens: they raise the next generation of phone addicts by example.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Colleen: Young girls and phones and the patterns we teach