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Teenagers are the worst! An observation from a childless host

Now that summer is in full swing we’ve got lots of families staying and the vibe with families is way different than “couple” guests or friends traveling together.

A few times this week I’ve gone to welcome a family, and do the normal chit chat orientation. The parents pay attention to everything, the kids sit there on their phone and don’t look up. This is literally 20 seconds after entering the apartment for the first time, making a beeline for the wifi info, and right away going into phone zombie mode. I caught a glimpse of one young girls phone (she is maybe 13) and she was taking pictures or video and adding dog ears and tongue to her face. Weirdo.

I have a bit of a routine that I do with families to try and engage everyone where I assign each family member a role - so I’ll tell a kid they are in charge of getting everyone on the network, I’ll tell another kid they are in charge of making sure everyone knows how to lock/unlock the doors and I’ll joke that the parents are in charge of the money. It’s really just to break the ice and make sure everyone pays attention to me for at least 5 minutes.

Lately we’ve had a lot of teens, and seriously they cannot even lift their face up from the phone, and they look so mopey! I don’t have kids so I don’t have first hand experience with this, but is the phone making kids joyless?

We have a Finnish family staying at our front house (we live in the back house) has three boys and the teenager has not looked up once, even when we’ve all sat on the shared patio together having a chat. All I hear from his chair is Ping Ping Ping. The middle boy is about 10 and he’s adorable and is outside on the patio whenever he sees us, asking a million questions. The smallest boy still wants to play with his toys, which don’t yet include a phone. The teenager? forget it, he’s comatose. He only looks up when his parents scold him.

It must be so hard to have family vacations nowadays! I imagining the threat of “i’ll take your phone” would cause a meltdown…

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Having taught high school for 28 years I definitely have an opinion on teenagers! Teenagers are some of the most fantastic humans on the earth. So many of them still have a sense of wonder. They aren’t cynical and jaded. They still think the world can be changed. They are often passionate and irrational. Some are depressed and angry and it’s a difficult stage in life. Oh, the emotions! But as proto-adults they can be engaged in conversations that are quite interesting.

As for the faces glued to devices I put the blame on their parents. They sat them in front of the TV or computer at a young age because it was convenient. They had screens in the car so no more whiney boredom. They came home tired from work and the device would babysit. for them. I have friends with kids who watch their screens a lot, but these kids also play and will put the device down and talk to you because the parents made them do so. No devices at dinner. A swingset, pool, water guns, bicycles, etc outside. One evening they came over here and had the DVDs and devices ready to babysit. However the kids discovered the costume trunk in my living room. An antique, it looked like a pirate’s chest and oh, what a treasure it held! They ended up putting on every mask, hat and robe in there.

So I blame the parents and unless the child has a medical condition that would cause a meltdown, the parents made the bed they lie in.


People do seem to be obsessed with their mobile phones here (Bombay, India), and not just children. I don’t see the appeal. What can one do with a gadget the size of a postage stamp, and no power to speak of? I can (sort of) feel the appeal of a full fledged computer. At least you can do something with it. But a phone does not really seem worth the kind of fascination it engenders.

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Are you kidding? With it I am literally connected to the world. It’s a library and photo studio and darkroom. It’s a post office and bank and credit card reader. It’s a phone (and I thought cordless phones were cool). It’s a GPS, a compass and a weather station. It’s a music player. A white noise generator. A flashlight and a magnifying glass. Coupled with an external camera it’s a home security monitor. A game console. A calculator. A notepad. An address book. A calendar. A newspaper and a book. A truly remarkable device.


I agree so much! I never go anywhere without my phone - I even take it with me when I check the mailbox a few yards away. I can’t run my life without it. In addition, it’s my bank, my library and even work - I can update my websites from it. And just to demonstrate that this isn’t a generational thing, I’m a grandparent :slight_smile:

Funny thing is, I hardly ever use it as a phone!


LOL! BTW - is your profile pic of you with your phone?? - hard to tell…

Oh yes! I’d forgotten.

Are you using the GPS feature to get to the mailbox? (ha!)


“Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together”


If you don’t have a selfie with a dog nose and dog ears, you’re officially old :wink:


haha i know right

It’s snapchat btw…

Back to the topic, I am typing this from my smartphone, and I plead guilty of always having it on me. I even answer texts (or Air messages …) from the shower (mine is waterproof).

As @KKC and @jaquo said, it’s my camera, my GPS, my laptop, my bank, my music library, my alarm clock, my flashlight, my fitness and nutrition tracker. I shop, book my travels or book restaurants from my smartphone. I only use my computer for work (I mean when I need to use professional software that does not exist on a smartphone).

So I won’t blame teen guests who ask for the WiFi codes as soon as they arrive. It’s the first information most adult guests ask for as well …


However… If you DENY the phone, you will have an even worse mess on your hands.

As a high school sub, I strongly feel that the advent of the phone has created distraction and trouble in the classroom. I always tell the kids when I start the class that the office has informed all subs when they signed in that cell phones are contraband and if seen security will be called. (Not true but it gets them worried for a bit.) And that if we complete the lesson plan, they can have five minutes at the end of the period to check their phones. Sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

Blaming parents for the social media/technology behavior of the kids is so last century. :smile: kids will find their way eventually.

Case in point… No one was more addicted to phones and games than my two boys. Today they are college seniors and one just earned a huge stipend to go back to Japan for his second study abroad year. It supports his second bachelor’s degree of Japanese studies, and you can’t even apply unless you are fluent and recommended by two universities after passing rigorous exams. Part of what he’s been doing on his devices all these years is teaching himself Japanese. The other boy just spent a semester working as a paid Senate intern on Capitol Hill. Those are coveted internships that need good GPAs and university recommendations. So I was damn pleased to get cell phone pics of my boy standing with the Hawaii delegation or giving tours of the Senate.

Don’t be too hard on the teens. Good things are to come. It’s just hard to see it when their noses are in the phones. :smiley:

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My mum used to complain that I had always got my nose stuck in a book. Now I read books a lot still - on the phone!


Man…I feel like it was a lifetime ago when you had to go home to check to see if there was a message on the answering machine.


I don’t know that teens have changed so much. I had my nose in a book or my Gameboy when I was a kid, and would have been ignoring the adults too.


I had some guests, the internet credit (broadband) ran out, I called the mother to tell her was about to add another 25gigs, she said: 'DON’T Please!. She said this was the first time in years she could get her 3 teenage daughters off the internet, and there was nothing they could do about it, (because they were staying in a remote island).


Three more phone uses: a metronome, a voice or instrument tuner, a spirit level!


especially when I was a single woman - I lived to see that little blinking light!!

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My family and I were once in North Carolina and walked up this steep trail to a famous overlook. It was vastly beautiful, with a breeze blowing over everyone, hushed and majestic…except for the two kids sitting there glued to their games, with the noises beeping and booping, and obnoxious music too. They never looked up as far as I could tell.

Not all teens are like this. I can say with confidence that mine are not. They would be, if I let them. They are not even allowed to have internet on their phones. But often, if they do have their noses in their phones, they are reading.

And it’s an awesome way to keep in touch with friends -from around the world! Like this forum!

But it’s true that I also have my nose in my phone quite often, reading a book, answering guest requests, playing an interesting and challenging game. I’m just disappointed because the airbnb ap is not made for windows phones.

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