Looks like I’m a little late to this post, but thank you so much @bshupp for sharing your story and igniting such an important conversation.
I am not a parent, but I have 7 younger siblings that just so happen to include a set of 14 y.o. twins just like you. Watching their innocent fascination with technology grow into a full-fledged obsession over the years has been difficult to watch, to say the least. While I can’t fully relate to your experience as a parent, I suspect that the changes I crave from my siblings are not much different than those you and other parents long for from your children…
For starters, some more eye contact would be nice. If they could throw in a couple minutes a day of reflection, I’d be ecstatic. Unfortunately, with their mobile crutches always within arm’s reach, they’ve never experienced boredom long enough to watch it turn into the curiosity and creativity they displayed in their younger years.
The problem is exactly as you stated: “they don’t get it”. If only we could turn the endless research and documentaries into a candy crush level or a dank meme, then maybe it would speak to them the way it does to us. However, to echo @KeithFK, this authoritative approach is as futile as asking a teenager to do just about anything else.
As you pointed out, we can’t sit around and wait for technology to act more responsibly with their power; in our attention economy, the inhumane tech giants have no reason to change their ways. Ironically, this is the same problem we’re having with our youth. As @Lucian pointed out, they need an incentive to fill the void left by shutting down their dopamine slot machines.
This is where the next wave of humane technology steps in. Figuring out how to speak to them in a language they can relate to will be the key to swinging the pendulum back towards mindfulness and human interaction. I quit my day job to join this movement full-time and hopefully build a brand that can enter this space and incentivize better phone health in an effective, responsible way.
I am currently building a mobile application that will specifically empower parents on this mission and would love the opportunity to ask you some questions and/or run some of my plans by you. If you or anyone else on this board would be interested, shoot me a message! Either way, I am excited to have found such a passionate community and look forward to keeping you all posted on my progress.