Are we listening to our kids?

Cathy Brownfield

What did we do before cell phones?


Have you heard any of the things I’ve been hearing and seeing, re: social media?

“Judy” checked out the kid site at YouTube that her 10-year-old granddaughter views. The parents said it was geared for kids ages 12 and under, safe. My friend, a retired teacher and coach, suggested Mom and Dad should take a look. Her granddaughter complained to her, “Why did you say anything to Mom and Dad?”

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

In mid-summer a couple of years ago, world headlines noted that “China limits online gaming to 3 hours a week for schoolchildren.” The article actually states “…just an hour a day and only on weekends … as the government increases its involvement not only in schools but on how youth spend time at home.”


Last month the Education Week publication ran an article, ‘What Girls Say Social Media is Doing to Their Sleep and Mental Health.” The article references a survey released by Common Sense Media.

“Almost half of teenage girls surveyed said they are addicted to TikTok or spend more time on the social media video platform than they intend to at least once a week. About a third of the girls said the same of Snap Chat, Instagram and YouTube.”

A 15-year-old told researchers, “I felt the app wasted my time, and it just made me more predisposed to get sucked into my phone … for a prolonged period of time.”

Do you remember back in the day when people criticized parents who used television as a babysitter?

I like to play a couple of games on my phone, too. It is so easy to get caught up in the game and lose track of time. So, I set some limits because there are so many other ways for me to spend my time doing things that I enjoy … puttering in my flower beds, reading a good book – or writing one! There are crochet projects and board games with a grandson. Friends, our daughters and their husbands and grandchildren. And instead of scrolling social media before I settle down to sleep, I prefer to read books instead of scrolling social media.

“The boy brought his iPad,” his mother said.

“I told you we don’t need it,” I said. I have set limits for him when he is with me. And I remember what that first grade teacher told my then 7-year-old’s class, “TV rots your brain.”

I remember my parents telling my brothers and me to get outside and play. And we did. I learned quickly not to grumble to Mom, “I’m bored.” She would assign something to me, something along the lines of chores. Back then we explored our world. Interacting with other kids in the neighborhood helped us to grow to adulthood with some good skills for our life toolbox.

Is social media positive or negative? What is it doing to your kids?

“Among girls with symptoms of mild or severe depression,” reports the aforementioned survey, “about 75 percent of those who use Instagram and 69 percent who use TikTok report finding ‘problematic suicide related content’ at least once a month on these platforms.”

Parents are the first authorities over their children. Parents set the house rules and enforce them. Parents are the living examples for their offspring.

My mother always had a lot on her plate. I don’t know how she did it all. There wasn’t a lot of “spare” time. And I can’t speak for my brothers, but I can tell you she always asked, “How was your day?” She would stop to listen when I had a problem. “Housework will always be waiting. Kids won’t,” she would say. All through our lives together Mom and I shared a lot, including faith. She lived hers, and she gave me something to believe in when things have looked bleakest. She encouraged me to set goals, dream dreams and pursue them.

If you aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunities to interact with the youth in your family, you are missing out on a lot. Youth are speaking to us, to you. Are you listening?

FRC History Bites: The adolescent program at Family Recovery Center was established in 1984. The driver intervention program, Steering Clear, was established in 1985.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. Contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email Visit the website at You can find Family Recovery Center at Facebook. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.