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one possible interpretation of this story is: when given the option, the son prefers to talk to his friends instead of his parent. the phone is not the culprit here; it merely revealed a pre-existing preference.

I think you're spot on, and this is part of the reason I will have "no phones* after dinner/school/whatever" when my kids become smartphone age. I expect I will have similar rules about headphones in cars, or tablets at restaurant tables.

If my relationship with my kid's is falling apart, I want to have some sort of signal that alerts me to it happening. I want it to feel awkward, so that I know to fix it. If the damage is masked behind a screen, I might miss it and never know to repair it.

* or whatever the new distracting device is in ~10 years.

I think my point suggests the opposite conclusion: arbitrary electronics bans are counterproductive. if your kid chooses the device over interacting with you, that is a strong sign that something is wrong; this is the signal you are looking for! if you remove the choice by prohibiting the device during "family time", you are just removing a source of information.

my parents never told us we couldn't use our phones at dinner, but they did explain that when we did it, we were signaling that what we were doing with the phone was more interesting/important than family dinner. I decided that wasn't the message I wanted to give my parents, so I would only pull out the phone for time-sensitive communications. a little bit of respect can go a long way.

Some patterns work in some families and don't in others. I don't believe a permissive parenting style is going to work equally well everywhere. A kid choosing to do something bad for them is often just a signal of youth and inexperience.

I just think there's an important difference between "this activity is harmful in excess, so you may only do it for n minutes per day" and "I've decided I want to interact with you at this time every day, so you are not allowed to use your phone then".

I think it's okay to set reasonable limits on screentime. I don't think you should force your child to interact with you; that seems kind of unhealthy.

Yet another interpretation: text message notifications provide a larger a dopamine response than a spoken conversation.

idk man, the pace of text communication is a little slow for my tastes. if I have the option of texting person A or speaking to person B, I'll usually choose B if both conversations are just as interesting. ymmv, of course.

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