Is your phone more of a bridge or a barrier to the people around you?

Welcome back to the March Mentor Minute! This month, we’re focusing on the impact that screens and devices have on Gen Z, and how we as mentors can help teach/model a healthier approach to screen time. Here’s a question for you to consider this week…

Is your phone more of a bridge or a barrier to the people around you?

In other words, do you use your phone more to build relationships with the people around you or to put up a barrier between you and them?

As adults, it’s easy to assume that students use their phones as barriers, but that’s not always the case. In fact, there can actually be a lot of bridge-building going on among Gen Z when they are sitting together on their phones. Just think back to last week and how Gen Z spends most of their 5.15 hours on their smartphones: playing video games, streaming video/TV, listening to music, and scrolling through social media feeds.

All of those ways can be done in the context of building a bridge with the people around you. For example, students will often hang out together and play video games with/against each other on their phones.

That’s building a bridge.

Or, they’ll watch or share the same movie/TV show or Youtube video on their phones and talk about it together.

That’s also building a bridge.

Same thing with listening to music together and sharing funny memes from their social media feeds…all of these things can be done in the context of building relationships with the people around you.

The downside (of course) is that all of these things can also be done for the purpose of putting up a barrier. Our phones can become like little “stop signs” that say “leave me alone” to the people around us. And, students can be pretty good at using them for that purpose too.

As mentors, we can teach/model a healthier approach to screen time by using our own phones more as bridges and less as barriers. We can also use our phones to build bridges with our students when we are together by learning to do some of the same things they like to do with each other.

In that one hour we are together, we can…

 -Learn to play a new video game together
– Share YouTube videos and talk about them
– Listen to music together
– Share funny memes from your social media feeds.

Check back next week as we continue this conversation about screen time and talk about ways that we as mentors can help students have a healthier approach to all of the devices in their lives.