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When Your 11-Year-Old Says No to a Smartphone (vogue.com)
200 points by lucasjans 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments

I read a report recently on predictions for Generation Alpha, i.e. the generation after Generation Z (in turn the generation after the Millennial Generation) very roughly born after 2010. One of the predictions was that they would be both "digital masters" but also "the new old fashioneds" that would be looking to break away from technology more, perhaps as a result of feeling neglected by parents constantly distracted by phones. Examples cited included children placing smartphones on lists of things they wish had never been invented, and the 7 year old in Germany who got 150 people to attend a march with banners like "Play with ME, not with your phones!" Although it is too early to make any predictions that are likely to be especially accurate, and I'm not even sure how widely accepted the Generation Alpha name even is, it is none-the-less interesting from a technology perspective. And perhaps not too surprising since generations often go in cycles, rejecting parts of what defined the preceding generations.

No one can really even define what a Millennial is, or who falls in to Generation Y/Z. Even "who is a Boomer?", and the tropes of what a Boomer is, fail when looking at my anecdotal data. Also often activist children are heavily influenced by their activist parents. Generational classification and "analysis" is almost as bad as stereotypes.

Unlike horoscopes, where a computer wouldn't be able to predict a person's "sign" from e.g. tweet data any more often than chance, generations really do work as a predictor for some behaviors (or vice-versa.)

Think of it this way: if 10% of every other generation does X, but 40% of a particular generation does X, then that generation really should be known for doing X, even though the majority of members of that generation don't do X! Don't let the easy availability of anecdotal counterexamples to a trend fool you; a trend in a population is a trend even if not literally everyone in that population is a part of it.

Of course, there might well be a better way to divide up the population that serves as a better predictor for the trend, and so "explains away" the generational effect. E.g. changes in racial composition (and so culture) due to immigration over the years; or growth of subcultures as self-reinforcing memetic entities, apart from any generational proclivity toward them; or economic effects pushing people to have different emotional needs (e.g. a change in gender-balance of the workforce will see different types of businesses created to offer self-care to tired workers.)

But, by another lens, all these other effects are "part of" the generational effect; they're the composition of the narrative the generation will tell about itself, and so be remembered for.

That's why I think "era" is a better view for this kind of categorization. It doesn't slap a label on the individuals and individuals can discuss living through that era without implying they did X.

Sure. All "generation $foo" is supposed to mean is "the set of people who grew up in the 15-year era $foo". Saying things about a "generation" is saying things about the effect that that era had on the people who grew up in it.

Supposed is right. But I'm pretty sure, just going off my own initial instincts (which I treat as a ranting racist), the terms used for generations triggers immediate bias in everyone, no matter how woke they are. It's just a bad way to categorize things. Not good for constructive conversation. "Grew up in" is vague enough, then there's a ton of follow up questions: "Exactly how old?", "What country?", "What city/suburb?", "What neighborhood?", "Family income level?", etc., etc. Most people just assume the answers to all those based on where they think people lived at the time, their assumed nationality, their current assumed income level, and a million other things. Only truly interested parties will take the time to resolve all those assumptions in a conversation, assuming they have the time. 2 people trying to have a conversation about their respective "generations" aren't likely to portray anything, even themselves, accurately to each other. Putting individual people, others or ourselves, in camp X, Y, or Z is a bad way to start, period. Talking about trends is great, but pigeonholing any one individual into anything, no matter how accurate, is going to induce immediate rage in them. Doesn't matter if that rage stems from perceived false accusations ("I'm not that thing you think I am") or patriotism ("You say that like it's a bad thing"), it's just not good.

This comment is being down-voted, and I sort of understand why, as it comes off as overly abrasive. Obviously demographers use different years to define generations depending on the study. But I think the last part about stereotyping is worth discussion, even if the comment is overly abrasive.

I was born in a year that traditionally was generally not considered "millennial" by demographers, but since it also did not fit with the years they used for previous generations, modern definitions tend to include my birth year as "millennial". This irritates me, because myself and most of those that I know who are my age don't fit the usual descriptions of "millennials" and we don't like the association. Now, I happen to like millennials. My wife is solidly in the millennial years. I have many friends who were born in the millennial years. But I don't like having the label applied to myself and I don't fit the descriptions at all.

In the end it isn't a big deal. I have no plans to ever call myself a millennial. But it is worth cautioning against stereotyping individuals because of the year they were born, as I unfortunately see many people do.

You might like: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/words-were-wat...

It's definitely some level of stereotyping, but there definitely appears to be a divide with friends (especially from college) who are a few years older than me, and those who are a few years younger. The older group finished college and entered the work force just as the internet was really beginning to churn, when it was interesting but not necessary, when it was still easy to ignore the digital world socially and economically. As a result they seem to be much less plugged in online than my friends who are just a few years younger.

Millennial has turned into a slur, so at this point I think the terminology needs to be superseded. The term originally meant birth between 1982-2004, with the caveat that the end of the generation might be up for discussion while the next generation was still growing. Now all of a sudden you have people calling anyone born in the 80s a "millennial", usually as a means to disparage them.

When I first heard the term, it seemed to be describing people born around 1988 or later. But I think it depends on locality, and my impression is the line is when cell phones became quasi-universal during high school.


You sound like you were born in 1981 or 1982. I noticed this phenomenon as well, and it led me to conclude that "millennial" (and, to be fair, most other generational labels) really functions in common usage as an epithet, ie. anyone younger (or older) than me that I wish to denigrate by stereotyping them.

Is someone born in 1977 or 1979 fundamentally different? Are they really more like, say, Steve Jobs (i.e. the previous generation)?

Generations are basically agegroups that share for a part the same cultural experience, e.g. the same mass media, cartoons, educational trends, etc. Research shows that these overlaps in culture lead to several predictive trends in behavior and opinions.

It's normal you don't associate personaly with every trend. Especially if you lived in some local bubble or if you are on the edge of some defined group. That doesn't matter and I would just ignore it. This isn't about any specific person.

If you divide people into generations, most of them are not in the center and maximally separated from the adjoining generations. The thing about talking of generations is that it implies being near the boundaries is much less common than being far from the boundaries, which isn't true.

Being out of step with your peers is a separate issue.

> Research shows that these overlaps in culture lead to several predictive trends in behavior and opinions

What kind of research? Can you give references?

Think of mixing colors.

If you mix 50/50 red & blue, obviously that's purple.

When it's 80/20 red & blue, that looks more red than blue but looks purple but not the same as above.

When it's 20/80 red & blue, that looks more blue than red but looks purple but not the same as above.

It's a classification using a gradient, not an integer so yes, the boundaries are hard to tell but are still there.

Wavelength values are linear. The labels cause all the arguments.


That sounds righter. I'm not a math person :/

> Generational classification and "analysis" is almost as bad as stereotypes.

Sometimes there genuinely are very big changes between generations. E.g. Brexit, which is much more widely supported by old people than young people.

Well said. Not to mention that where you where born (geographically) and what social sector makes lots of cultural differences. For example, in late 90s in Argentina my mother washed clothes by hand and didn't own any game console. As you can imagine, even if I was a teenanger during the year 2000 my culture and life experience was differrnt than a middle class American of my same age.

Millennial is anyone 35 or younger.

As the namesake suggests, "millenials" are ideally people who were young-adults around the 00's. That generally means born from the early/mid 80's to mid-90's.

Gen z were/are young adults during the '10s. Gen alpha will be young adults during the '20s.

Generally a person's pre-teen/teen/early 20's are very formative so the shared experiences that a generation will have probably do form a real connective tissue within the age cohort that separates them from those with different experiences. A binary (anyone less than x years old is a y) isn't so useful to describe such a phenomenon.

Generations are supposed to be longer than 10 years.



1982 - 1996, that is more than ten years. But the people in that range would have shared formative experiences during the '00s. Thus the moniker millenials.

Hmm, curious as to whether there is any real evidence for this or whether its wishful thinking - not seen any among my kids (2010 and 2013) and their friends. My elder son did decide to give up screens for a month after reading an article about the idea, but that's the nearest I've seen and he is definitely back on them now, and of his friends, he's the only one apparently whose parents don't let him play Fortnite...

Generations are supposed to be longer than 10 years.


That sounds like a good read if you can find it again. :)

This looks like a smart kid from the description given. It's possible that he spent a good time reading recent literature about the drawbacks and decided not to join the masses. Or he just thought twice before following everyone. Either way it's always refreshing to find very young people doing different stuff by themselves as it's specially tough not to follow the trends during that age.

I also noticed that there's something different compared to when we were teens which we often forget and it's that there are devices (smartphones) which are used as extreme surveillance tools by some parents. It'd not be unreasonable to think that this only reason may make the devices much more unattractive to them.

Edit: verb typo.

> This looks like a smart kid from the description given. It's possible that he spent a good time reading recent literature about the drawbacks and decided not to join the masses. Or he just thought twice before following everyone.

Or it is a reaction to a parent obsession. I can imagine how a kid hates screens because parent spend more time with them then with the kid.

I don't have any insight but from just various anecdotes about kids getting smartphones I would say: they are now getting them in early primary school rather than late secondary school, exceptionally helicoptering parents have only become more obnoxious, and most kids are still pressed into many extracurriculars. If I was of the same mindset when I was child in this day's age being exposed to other children with completely obnoxious phone usage would be completely off-putting and I would not want any part of it. It might be that the observed negatives of having a smartphone as a child from peers and parents would be probably higher than any perceived benefit. Then with the way I see some parents help/press kids into after school activities many probably are crying for that separation to have a space away from their parents (which is one of the most valuable experiences schools provide), and so keeping that wall there is inevitably valuable.

I.e. the same reason for the creation of the "straightedge" subculture in the 90s: they had developed a revulsion to the mistakes they grew up around.

I agree.

I think the way most teenagers walk this path is by being on different services than their parents ("facebook is for moms!")

There could also be an element of "this phone is more for you than for me", like if your employer "generously" gives you a cellphone.

My 11-year old also never looks at her phone. We actually keep having to remind her to do so because we are texting her with reminders all the time. She seems to have almost zero interest in texting with her friends and will only occasionally play games or read books on the Kindle app. It's 100% just her personality though. Nothing that she learned to do. I also track her location with it and she likes us knowing where she is because she doesn't have a great sense of direction and is scared of getting lost.

> We actually keep having to remind her to do so because we are texting her with reminders all the time.

Wouldn't a good-old voice call be the logical fix for this?

She doesn't answer either. She tends to just leave it somewhere and the ringer is usually off because it has to be at school.

There is a whole subreddit dedicated to probably made up behaviour of children like that.


I don't know, children are crazy. They will say all kind of stuff. I bet some kid did say they didn't want a phone. Another cried because they got a phone the wrong color. And a third asked for a hundred phones to throw at turtles. Yet we don't hear of those two latter kids.

The very stupidest ideas are filtered out by parents "no you aren't getting 100 phones to throw". And the merely mundane ideas are filtered out by newspapers "a kid wanting a green phone isn't newsworthy".

r/woke is a flavour of r/thathappened focused on parents embellishing their kid's achievements. That said, it is interesting how we imagine (maybe expect) the next generation avoiding what we see as traps we fell in. Almost as if they were to save us from ourselves.

There’s another (/r/nothingeverhappens) dedicated to the pattern of people failing to realize just how big the world is and how often the internet allows us to see extremely uncommon events.

We are currently racking up about 245 years of collective human experience every second, and most of it is available to be reported to the internet. And most of it is from cultures and life-experiences different from yours, no matter who you are.

Human intuition about what is “plausible” for other humans to have experienced is frequently wrong.

For my parents, having their own car was freedom, as their parents didn‘t have them when they were young.

For me, the internet is the world I discovered for myself, first in the age of BBSes and an early WWW before any of FAANG were even born.

For kids, how better to make a difference than having none of the consumer devices that everyone including their parents carries around.

Kids need to make a difference, as we all did. It‘s in our genes and we better learn from them.

Seems like most kids today (10-20?) are not making that difference, instead the are "hooked" (I'm saying hooked like a real cynical old parent) into social apps like we never were, "manipulated" on unprecedented scale. If your theory holds, their children might turn against that.

I think this goes down to generation that were in high school when Snapchat came out (14 in 2013, so today's 20-year-olds). The generation currently in high school is much more moderate and circumspect about their technology use. Among my friends' middle-schoolers, they tend to use technology much more as a tool (learning to program is apparently now standard practice in late elementary school) and less as a way of life, and they value their privacy much more highly.

Possibly not coincidentally, that's the generation boundary: the divide between Millenials and Homelanders is usually placed between 1998 and 2001, based on whether you're old enough to have living memories of the time before 9/11. The first children born after 9/11 are entering college this month. It makes sense that the generation that grew up in the pervasive culture of fear since then would look at technology not through the lens of "How can this connect me to the rest of generally-benevolent humanity?" but through the lens of "How can this be used against me?"

> "How can this be used against me?"

And rightly so. Kids I observe learned well from our mistakes and they know better than giving away their real data, posting their photos etc. I was stunned to hear from a 10-year old "but this review is obviously fake, anyone can write what they want on the internet to trick you into buying something." I guess they're better prepared to deal with the digital world.

> Seems like most kids today (10-20?) are not making that difference, instead

You realize that every generation has said that about the previous one? The details of what they are complaining about change slightly, but the attitude is universal to all generations.

Not that it makes any difference to your point but one of the A’s was born in 1976.

Seems like a banal humble brag about her kid. The author makes it pretty clear she is really into social media and projecting an image of her best self. She goes to quite an effort to make it clear her son is rejecting shallow values. Likely embellished.

I didn’t want a phone as a kid. That doesn’t mean I didn’t spend tons of time on the computer instead.

A kid not liking pop music or social media is probably extremely common. Heck a lot of 11 year olds aren’t emotionally developed in such a way that they really care about any music at all.

This was my feeling as well. It feels more like a humblebrag than anything. My own 11 year old loves popular music and would probably carry me to work every day on his back if I let him get a smartphone.

"I mounted photo after photo of them on Facebook with overworked captions"

"He didn’t like seeing pictures of him, or anyone else he knew, online."

That explains it - but I don't think it is a good model to follow for protecting kids from the internet.

I wonder if her children's reluctance to embrace smartphones is completely caused by the way she uses hers? If so, maybe we will see more children rejecting them as the 18-25 range become parents. I think many of the people I know in that range would do the same things that she was doing.

Kid says this about phones:

1. They’re infantilizing, a set of digital apron strings meant to attach you to your mother. (He was onto something there.)

2. They compromise a boy’s resourcefulness because kids come to rely on the GPS instead of learning Scout skills.

3. They make people trivial.

That's one smart kid.

The boy didn't say any of these things. The author interpreted them from their son's actions, like using printed maps to get around, and verbally mocking the author with shouts of "texty! emoji!" when he sees her using her phone.

Not to distract from the good point made above that the kid is smart by arguing about the syntax of words of the article, but what makes you certain he didn’t actually put words what his mother implied he said?

The article is not explicit on this point, it does not claim she interpreted them, the article says: “As I learned on his birthday, my son had decided three things about smartphones.“ That wording does imply they may have had a conversation, on his birthday, which is now being summarized. That implication is reinforced with “(He was onto something there)” because it implies he stated an objection to being monitored.

I fail to understand why this is relevant. I quoted the text because I agree.

I don't think that the kid is a super genius or that the article is 100% verbatim or even 100% real (there are no articles like that anymore).

As much as parents might find it irritating, it's actually a cool thing that almost all kids go through a rebellious phase.

It's sort of a built-in societal balance mechanism; no matter how far one generation pushes a particular set of values or behaviors, you can expect the following generation to push back against it.

Anyone else think this is fake ? I mean, 11 years old can have that level of thinking ? Or maybe I m missing something ?

For many years now, I have used vacation time to work at an academic summer camp for 11 and 12 year olds. Almost all of the kids have phones, but some years there's one (I don't think there's ever been more than one) who does not.

A couple of the children without phones have been very proud of the fact they don't have phones. They'll readily tell you they don't need one and don't want one.

Now, I have no clue if these children were in truth allowed phones by their parents, or how they would react if actually offered one. But they certainly seemed to be doing fine.

So, yes, I found the story plenty believable.

P.S. If it sounds like a crappy situation where only one kid is left without a phone, I don't disagree, but it's mostly out of my control. As I said, some children are completely fine with it, but I had one this past summer who was not.

It’s probably the new version of how you can tell that someone doesn’t watch tv. You don’t, they’ll tell you.

They absolutely have that level of thinking. They can't always verbalize it eloquently, so the author may have re-phrased it as the article was written. But my kids have real depth of feeling about the world, their place within it, and have more passion about engaging with it in their own way than most adults I know... not because adults don't have the same concerns, but because we resolved them decades ago, while the teens and tweens are just starting to engage in that process.

11 year olds can be brilliant, and tragically I suspect far more of them would if we didn't infantilize them.

I have a theory that children reach a high level of mental capability very quickly. What they lack is experience and an adult level of language facility. I think it's a very good idea to speak using easy to understand language when talking to children. However, I also think it's a good idea to expect that they have very good reasoning ability if given enough information.

Some level of infantilising is not necessarily a bad thing. I definitely was not equipped mentally to be able to overcome the things I am dealing with in my 20s. Was I any less smart when I was 11? Probably not; but now I have other skills and traits apart from intelligence. Work ethics, sense of responsibility, and empathy to name a few.

Giving kids too much responsibility or credit does not help them further down their lives, but at the same time disregarding them entirely because they're kids will do irreparable damage to their self esteem.

"Was I any less smart when I was 11? Probably not;"

For reasonable definitions of "less smart", yes, you were. There's a lot of work on child development, and it does not support the idea that an 11-year-old is as fully equipped as an adult. Piaget's child development stages is an accessible overview if you want a nice Googleable term. Modern academics would quibble with various aspects but from what I can see a lot of the general ideas one would get from a quick breeze-through are still a reasonable start.

I'm actually pretty close to first in line to say that we underestimate children... buuuut, at the same time, no, they are not just little adults that are getting suppressed by The Man or whatever. They really aren't anywhere near fully developed yet, and are as a population, generally incapable of many things no matter how hard you tried to push them. And even if you do find an individual 11-year-old that, say, is fine with calculus, in another 10 years they'll be even more developed.

Absolutely. Then puberty hits and the brilliance seems to take a huge dip. I guess obsessing about sex takes a lot of brainpower. Just a hypothesis though.

That hypothesis is sensible.

According to The Male Brain, by psychiatrist Louann Brizendine, males have 2.5x the space devoted to sexual drive in the hypothalamus compared to females.

By the time males reach puberty, guy’s sexual occupation and fertile female tracking circuits run in the background non-stop like an unkillable daemon process.

That’s absolutely going to divert brainpower.

Speaking personally, I feel that the experience of sexual attraction and sexual desire has been a stimulus to the development of my intelligence, not a brake upon it. If you look at great art and literature you will see it has played a crucial role there too. So no, I don't think it is a 'sensible hypothesis'.

Oh, absolutely. For a tiny percentage of creative and productive people. For the masses, however, I don't see it.

Eleven-year-olds are often very sensible. Stupidity sets in a couple of years after that age, according to my observations.

Since this is vogue.com, I would tend to think so.

Could be true though, kids can be renitent and are generally smarter than people think.

My teen nephew loves video games but really really doesn't want a cell phone, even though his parents want him to have one. He doesn't want to be bothered all the time. 11-year olds can be quite smart and independent. Don't you remember being 11 or 12? It's a little blurry to me as an adult but I remember the books I read and family vacations and I don't think I was an oblivious dolt :)

Children are probably smarter than you think.

I know it's probably satire, or outright bullshit, but I want to believe that there are kids this smart walking the Earth.

One take that I have heard repeatedly lately is that while our current "old generation" may be seen as the digital immigrants that are never quite embedded due to not growing up with the technology around them, and the somewhat younger but now adult generation may be seen as the digital natives that did, the next generation may very well be the one that looks back at the digital natives and (probably correctly) states that they were naive in their assessment of technological threat, the rise of "big data" and whatever other privacy concerns may arise from the way we treat, or rather don't care about, our personal data today.

Without question most people today (myself included) upload their private photos and videos to "free" cloud services without a second thought of what these may be used for. Technologies like facial recognition, deep fakes etc. are only in their infancy, but it doesn't take much imagination to see the next generation launching a counter culture, partly because that's just what young people do, to later look back at the "digital natives" with the smug realization that they never saw any of it coming despite the signs being obvious.

Parents today love to concern themselves with "screen time" and other pointless measurements of how "genuine" (read: how similar to their own) the childhood of their own kids is, but they couldn't care less about how their own bank accounts, personal photos and phone calls slowly are slipping into the semi-public domain.

Maybe it's just my own penchant for cyberpunk talking, but I have a hard time seeing how the subcultures of the future won't turn against these "convenient" sacrifices that regular people make on a daily basis, using their own privacy as currency. Just ask any young person what they think about Facebook and you'll get the idea -- it's for old people.

I can't help but find this article incredibly cringy.

Firstly, while I can understand some background info, I don't feel like her entire digital biography is needed to tackle this subject. Second, I can't help but think that her kids are acting the way they do as a response to their mother's behavior.

> They’d create formidable, indomitable avatars with vast powers and an absolute immunity to scams, trolls, and disinformation. Their avatars, one day, would heroically match wits with J.K. Rowling and Soledad O’Brien, or whatever luminaries would dominate Twitter in the future.

Am I the only one who thinks this is strange? What parent wants their kids to be some ... internet celebrity on the worst platform in the world? Seems kind of sad to me.

I have a feeling this woman is incessant and obsessed when it comes to technology and that her kids don't want to become their mother.

Inspiring. Just when I was thinking our culture is "doomed" the young ones surprise me like this. Wish the best to the family.

Can't have been that "doomed" if a kid not wanting a phone is a savior.

Very interesting article. Anecdotally, I know several of my friends who have downgraded their phones from various smartphones to a simple flip phone or even no phone at all.

One of them introduced me to the Light Phone (https://www.thelightphone.com/) which seems like it is in a similar vein, even if it costs more than a 10 year old flip phone.

I wonder if this trend away from the "always-on" status quo will continue in the future.

For me, the ability to voice call people is the least useful main feature of my phone. If I were to downgrade it would be to the phone that noone can call me on.

There are $40 smart watches for kids that have a sim card and no location tracking. Perfect. They Dick Tracey when they want. We can let them play on the streets of Amsterdam and just call when it is time to come home.

My wife (who is a primary school teacher) was saying that a kid in her school was taking photos with her watch. She didn't even know watches could do that and it means they are going to have to rewrite school policies (currently phones are banned in school because of safeguarding/photos without consent)

do they allow laptops and tablets in school? seems like a "no camera" policy would require the school to provide any electronic devices itself. or I guess they could just not have computers at all; it worked back in the day.

Only school ones are allowed (it's a primary school so kids 11 and under). Which means any photos taken don't leave the device

oh okay, that kind of policy makes sense when everyone is under 12.

If it has a sim card it has tracking via cell towers, not as accurate but still 10-50 meters accuracy, whether that tracking is available to you is different thing.

Of course -- and always worth reminding people of that. In this case, contrasting to watches for kids that focus on tracking. It seems more ethical (less creepy) to call my kids than track them. Not sure why. But how I like to parent.

Sounds pretty cheap. What brand is it?

I think it's brilliant, and applaud the child.

IMHO people spend far too much time on their phones, and other devices. My devices are for work, they're rarely for play (yes, the occasional video game), but there's an intense reality that I now have real conversations with people - and they're much more authentic, even about their time.

I meet people for meals, for drinks, for a walk. I find out about their lives, and share my own - as opposed to skulking them on InstaFaceTwitterGram. For me it works - for others it might not. Fair enough.

"Kid who has eschewed the internet gets exploited by mom for vogue.com clicks"

I assume he agreed to publishing his photo though.

I want to believe he wants this message to get out

This is one of the most uplifting articles I have ever read. There is so much hope for the younger generation.

There are a lot of comments about "smart kid".

I am not convinced. Not saying he is a retard of course, but that his aversion for smartphones is not a positive trait.

Smartphones are incredibly useful tools. Very empowering when used well. It is the abuse that is bad. Refusing to have one is admitting that you can't handle it. Better than being addicted, but not as good as reasonable use.

Another aspect is cultural. All other kids grew with smartphones, they have a common experience of memes, apps, and whatever is popular. Part of that culture he will be lacking, and he may feel himself excluded from conversations, and maybe even considered a bit weird. Not a huge deal, but that's something to consider. And no, lacking "stupid" cultural references is never a good thing, no matter how inane you think these things are.

That your kid doesn't want a smartphone when other kids do is not something I would consider alarming or even something that should be corrected. But it is not something worth bragging about IMHO. It is just a personality quirk.

A question I have that went unanswered is why the author would be hurt by being called a gamer.

Getting called anything feels mean when a 14 year chants it at you.

Who else clicked on this thinking it would be some brat who wanted a higher end model?

Nice surprise.

When the iPhone came out is was supposed to be simpler to use then all the basic phones that came before it, I'm not sure that's still the case anymore.

This mother seems very disrespectful of her son...

Her children are not her chattel to do with as she sees fit they are human beings with thoughts and feelings of their own that need to be respected.

If you read closer, you‘ll notice a lot of stylistic (self-)irony and exaggeration between the lines. The last paragraphs clearly give away that she‘s very much respecting their kids.

Yup. I cringed for most of the article, but the ending does significantly change how it all sounds.

...to the point it makes me doubt how much truth there is to the story. It very much reads like a classical hero's journey - which "involves a hero [the mother] who goes on an adventure [tech-full parenting], and in a decisive crisis [lost her phone charger while finding herself in the middle of nowhere] wins a victory [has a deep moment of connection with her tech-rejecting son], and then comes home changed or transformed [see the last paragraph]."


(I still liked the story, though.)

You can frame every story like that

Not every - there are multiple recognized story archetypes; "hero's journey" is just one of them. My point however is that stories are always unlike real life, and this article reads very much like a story.

His picture is at the of article!

I don't get that at all. She seems like a caring mother. Of course she is going to show them the things she knows. We are only human.

Smart kids.

Yep, almost too good to be true.

Is the whole thing a novel/fantasy or does that smart kid really exist ?

Go kid !

It’s a shame the Mother can’t see this

Did you really read the article? Or are you talking in more general terms?

The mother is full on accepting of her son and use it to question her own motives in life. As a parent, I found the read very refreshing.

The very son that didn’t want to be all over the Internet? Yet there he is pictured in the article on vogue.

I got the feeling from the article that she didn’t understand her sons point of view.

> It’s a shame the Mother can’t see this

The only reason you know how smart her kid is, is because she wrote an entire article telling everyone how smart her kid is.

She talks about mum influencers essentially using their kids for fame in the article but is doing the same thing herself. My point is the mum doesn’t see the kids point of view.

You must be joking, she wrote the article silly.

On the internet to promote herself with a photo of them at the end. I felt a strong sense of irony at the end of the story.

That’s what I felt as well. She seemed to state that it was a relief that her phone died, yet somehow still managed to have a photo of them.

I cannot imagine how it can be a good idea to reject the internet. Avoid social media all you want, but choosing not to have a search engine, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps and so on at your fingertips is just bonkers. Also, smartphone is great at being a digital watch with alarm clock, a audiobook reader, a radio set, etc. You can rebel against the mindless social media generation to your heart's content and still benefit greatly from this piece of technology.

Or, you can buy a standalone alarm clock, a dead-tree book, a standalone radio receiver, etc. for a fraction of the price. Now, I love my smartphone for all the non-social features. But I kind of see how the new generation can see these things as a gateway drug to being sucked into social media and having their minds and hearts ruthlessly exploited for profit. On top of that, it's teenagers we're talking about; teenage rebellion isn't usually a paragon of restraint or rationality :).

> teenage rebellion isn't usually a paragon of restraint or rationality

It's just that most of the comments in this thread were about rationality :-) They were about how refusing a smartphone is a _smart_ thing to do.

How much do you think a phone costs?

Much more than a separare alarm clock, radio and a mp3 player together. These things are cheap now.

Can you really get separate devices for less than a feature phone ? My Nokia/HMD was only $20. I agree that a smartphone isn't the cheapest solution.

I can get a radio and an alarm clock for something like $10 to $15 total on a local flea market. It's probably not even the cheapest option. Not sure if I could find an MP3 player for $5-10 on that market, but I can find one for below $5 with free shipping on Aliexpress.

About $100-$200. How long do you think a phone lasts?

> Avoid social media all you want, but choosing not to have a search engine, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps and so on at your fingertips is just bonkers.

Recently our 9-year old wasn't sure how to spell a particular word, so I suggested we look it up in a (printed) dictionary. He didn't think it would be in there(!) He was surprised at my confidence it would be. Of course, we found it.

He hadn't even considered that almost all the words he uses every single day are sitting in a book on our bookshelf, listed in neat alphabetical order, just waiting for him.

This is a delightful anecdote.

"I cannot imagine how it can be a good idea to reject the internet. Avoid social media all you want, but choosing not to have a search engine, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps and so on at your fingertips is just bonkers.

But we had all that growing up 40 years ago. The internet has made people stupider, as a culture. People learn less because you can just look it up. Yes, you can. It's much easier to look stuff up, but that means people are retaining less themselves.

> It's much easier to look stuff up, but that means people are retaining less themselves.

It might be easier, but it's not easy. I see people giving up on searches because they are not able to formulate what they are looking for. Maybe that opens a whole different set of problems.

> I see people giving up on searches because they are not able to formulate what they are looking for

In fairness, a number of things I've read about here on HN and experiences have led me to believe the quality of search engine results has declined as well

Quietness. Slowness causing you to deliberately select what information you need enough to bother finding it.

you cannot imagine an 11 year old not having a smartphone?

Oh, I can. After all, I didn't have one when I was 11 :-) It's just that, given an option to have it, I cannot imagine a good reason not to. Unless, of course, you don't trust yourself to not use it in a way you disapprove of.

I could have got a cellphone in high school and didn't.

I didn't in university either. I was uncomfortable with the idea of my location being tracked, and the idea that I could be interrupted by a call at any time.

Oh. Maybe back then. But we don't use phones to make calls any more. Only robots actually call you out of nowhere, so you just turn the ringer for incoming calls off. If you actually need to communicate synchronously, you text the person you want to call first, so you know it's okay to call them, and they know to pick up when you do.

Every once in a while, leave your phone at home when you go somewhere. Every step you take, you can think to yourself "yeah, try to track me now, chumps". Pay cash for all your purchases. Refuse to give real information to anybody. You're a digital phantom now!

The only thing you can't get from a less-trackable non-phone device is cellular network connectivity. And you can sort of get around that with gratis wi-fi connections, if you're careful to de-fingerprint your device. I'm imagining a handheld qubes/tails. It would be nice to have a less-centralized mesh network that explicitly valued peer confidentiality, but apparently there's no profit in it yet.

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