How Mobile Phones Are Affecting Relationships

4 minutes
Akhil is a 17 year old, school going kid. Like other guys of his age, he is obsessed with browsing  internet and playing mobile games. He got his first desktop computer around 6 years back but didn’t use it much as it was not ‘fun’. Around 3 years ago, he got his first smartphone and since then, he is into phones! In last 3 years he has changed around 12 phones – an average of 3-4 months per mobile.

His parents initially were bothered about his habit of switching handsets. They resisted to purchase new handsets, but always submitted to his demands. This went on 1.5 years.
Anita, Akil’s mother bought herself a smart phone in March 2013 and started spending significant time whatsassping with relatives and friends. Due to Anita’s excessive indulgence in whatsapp, her resistance for Akhil’s demands also lessened. Akhil remained busy with games and new apps, and Anita with whatsapp. She also started neglecting her regular household chores.
In April, 2014 Akhil’s demands increased further to Apple iPad & iPhone and he was not ready to compromise. This was way above family’s budget and when parents tried to explain him the same, he started abusing his mother. Being submissive in nature, Anita didn’t react to his aggressive son and got into depression.
Alok, Akhil’s father was busy with work and wan’t involved in these things. Akhil is Alok’s only son, so he fulfills all his desires. Alok also believes that keeping the child devoid of his wishes would make him destructive, so he gets him everything he ever asks, but Akhil’s demand this time is beyond budget!

What went wrong? Is it Akhil’s fault?

Children who are usually seen over-demanding actually have reduced their mode of connection with parents. Demands are their only way to connect with their parents. Due to Akhil’s over-demanding nature, parents were overlooking the actual course of events that took place in the family.

I asked the Anita how much she interacts with the child in a day. She admitted spending around an hour a day and that too during lunch and dinner only. Alok has almost no interaction with the Akhil. When asked about reason, Anita initially defended herself that she remains busy with household work. Only after being confronted by the husband and son, she admitted that she spend more time Whatsapping. The purpose of this probing was not to blame Anita, rather to see how the dynamics of family have changed which has contributed to the whole issue of child’s over-demanding nature.

When discussed in detail, she realized that with time, in last 1 year, she has been ignoring a lot of important things in her life.

It seems mobile has become an important part of our daily lives and we overlook the problems caused by it. More importantly, only children are believed to be falling in the trap of excessive mobile usage. Not all mothers spend too much time on Whatsapp, but television, which is another form is addiction is also been misused in many families. With changing times, we have shifted from TV to internet. Internet has become a source of worry, similar to what TV was considered around 2-3 decades ago. However, problem is not with internet or TV, its the lifestyle that has been changed and the quality of time that we give to our family members.

I counselled the parents about how they can spend more quality time with the child. I suggested them to put technology to right use, they could whatsapp with Akhil to connect. I asked them to make little changes in their schedule. They should go out with Akhil on weekends, Akhil should be encouraged to bring his friends at home, Akhil should be asked for more involvement in some household responsibilities, father should find more time to spend  with family.

Solution is not in snatching phone from Akhil or complaining him for his tantrums. Tantrums are due to lack of quality relationships where both parents and children are not respecting or understanding each other. If they spend more time together, it will build up mutual trust and understanding and it will become easier to understand each other’s point of view.Note: This story is based on one of the cases handled by Tarun Verma, clinical psychologist.

Richa singh

Richa is the Co-founder and Conceptualizer of YourDOST – an emotional wellness solution where users can anonymously seek support from psychologists and other trained individuals. Richa holds a bachelor's degree from IIT Guwahati. Before YourDOST, she worked in the areas of product management, and user experience design.