But every time you hand that phone to your child, you are enabling their personal safety demise.
I guarantee that you gave your child that device on the premise that it was for their 'safety' so that they could call you. Call you if they are in trouble, being abducted, being threatened - need help. But what if I told you that the phone is the reason that they will be targeted in the first place? And when they are targeted the phone will retard any natural survival instincts they may have, and long after an incident, will trigger or compound mental health issues.
Statistically that phone won't be used to save them, but will enable their demise. The phone makes your child a really good victim.
I have been teaching self defence and personal safety to high school students for 12 years. What I see in classrooms would make your hair fall out. Our kids are in trouble - mentally, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and physically - and we are enabling it.
I have seen a degeneration in physical coordination - an inability to know left from right. An inability to hear a direction and react immediately.
I have seen a degeneration in emotional regulation - outbursts similar to my 4 year olds tantrums. An inability to recognise that they control their emotions.
I have seen social degeneration. Ok, ok. Socrates himself would bemoan the self-centred ignorance/arrogance of Ancient Greek teens. This is nothing new. But what is new is that the brains of our teens has been deprogramed - reprogrammed - and it is not a program of resilience. Whole sections of our brain die when we become dependant on iOS technology.
When I was teaching this week most of the students had their phones in plain view. The screens white and blinking, thumbs flicking - regardless of the fact that the school has a 'no phones during class' policy.
Your child will replicate whatever behaviour they use daily in an uncomfortable situation. For example, your teen girl will giggle during a sexual assault, the same as she will giggle, whisper and eye-roll with her friends when reprimanded for disruptive behaviour. I actually lost a court case when a female sexual assault victim was cross examined and gave evidence that she giggled during the rape. A giggle does not imply consent. We got that? No consent given. But I can't teach the patriarchal judge that this is normal modern female behaviour - instilled the moment a kindergarten teacher claps 'inside voice, outside voices' or 'girls, close your legs,' and 'ladies, don't yell.' I can't re-teach or reach that jury that where predominately male, pale, and stale. That classroom was let out a long time ago.
But I can teach your girls to start watching how they unconciously react when they are under stress.
And it is most likely they will reach for a phone.
They will reach for the phone the same way that mums have been shown in recent disaster victim studies to clean their kitchen, put on a load of washing or walk around in circles muttering and giggling (or phoning their mum) when being told to evacuate immediately.
True study, read more here. It made me realise it is my natural reaction to clean and stack. Those fluffy toys are all going to be neat and tidy for the arrival of a cyclone at the expense of my children's survival. This is embarrassing, but true. Self reflection is always going to a vital tool on your personal safety tool belt.
I was telling a group of grade 11 students the story of a young Russian woman who was fishing with her Dad when they were attacked by a brown bear. It may be observed that the girl's natural reaction when in discomfort was to go to her phone - so while her father's lifeless body was being ripped apart she started making phone calls. The bear - a new mother - may have instinctively assessed the young woman as easy prey and went away to rally her starving cubs. She returned with her brood to find the injured girl in-situ, and on her phone. So the whole nightmarish feast continued all the while with a frantic and helpless Russian mum on the other end of the phone, listening to her daughters agonising demise.
This is not just a climate change warning about humans encroaching on the animals kingdoms natural habitat and an apex predator trying to feed her starving babies. It is a story of a deterioration in human survival instincts. It is a complete inability to assess risk, react and act - using our body and mind simultaneously to remove ourselves from danger.
For every second we are on that phone, searching for that phone, or wishing we had that phone, we are food for bears. Figuratively and literally.
I just finished telling this story when I saw one of the girls playing with her phone. The story made her uncomfortable, so #ironically she turned to her comfort source. Her phone. I gave her a warning. Told her to put the phone away. She sat on it and said "You can't make me."
I could make her, but the thought of removing a phone covered in bum juice made my choice pretty obvious.
An hour later we where talking about defence against sexual assault, and that 1 in 3 Australian girls under the age of 16 had already been the victim of sexual assault. This meant that at a hand full of girls in the classroom could have been sexually assaulted already. This may have made my 'phone sitting student' uncomfortable. Or not? So she got her phone out again and started to show her boyfriend something that was uber interesting. In plain view.
I related to her that while she may not be concerned about her personal safety, statistically the person beside her may already a victim (1 in 6 boys experience sexual abuse before the age of 16), or will be in the future, so don't deny them the right to learn strategies to keep them safe. I told her to put her phone away or leave. So with a great gusto (the most activity I had seen from her all day) she threw her arms in the air and left with a cloud of expletives and statements blaming everyone else for her predicament. "I wasn't even on the phhhoooonnnnnneee!!! Wah!"
She was like a cocaine addict being denied a hit. Violent. Irrational. Inconsolable.
This is the result of mobile phone addiction.
The cycle becomes more vicious when you consider that this girl, when feeling triggered, may then use her phone (as she is hiding in the school dunny) to attack her 'frenemies' on social media. These attacks will lack emotional intelligence, the ability to discern, and most certainly lack empathy. Her brain will be stuck in lizard brain - the brain that attacks, plays dead, and then attacks again. The same brain that trolls and bullies and lashes out. The same brain that blames other people for how they feel. But let's think about the person/people that may be at the end of the attack: they too may have a dependance on their phone, and a lack of emotional resilience. So when they read/ hear/ are confronted by the outburst of a lizard brain this may trigger a defensive reaction within them. Lizard V Lizard. And then they may start to lash out - or - retreat into depression. And we don't need the statistics on teen suicide to see where this is going. The phone has caused a cycle of mental illness, dependance, and aggression, and has enabled countless premature deaths. Are we brave enough to put a number to a death toll?
Our children are emotionally and mentally addicted to their phones - and as result they are intellectually and emotionally handicapped. It is yet to be seen whether they are going to have the life skills to be able to live independently in our society. Those statistics have already trickled out into our trade industry where only 20 -30% of apprentices complete their qualifications.
Without boring you too much let's think about a couple of times the phone puts your child at risk:
- crossing the road while talking/ texting on the phone
- running with ear buds
- texting while driving
- 'connecting' with groups our individuals that groom your child for sex, or to become involved in terrorism or hate crimes
- sexting (this could land them a criminal record as a sex offender)
- not hearing/ seeing/ feeling danger
- killing off sections of the brain required for basic survival
When the phone may save your child:
- when your child (or emergency services) call you because of all of the above
So, this is really a no brainer. We don't need governments or schools to do something about this. It is as simple as reassessing the BS that you believe that your child needs a phone in order to be safe.
Do you hand your child a gun to keep them safe?
Uh oh....... that's food for another blog.
We have been believing a lie. It's time to change what is not working.