Digital depression - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Digital depression

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

We are living in the techno-times. Almost everyone has a cell phone or a Facebook page. But do you think you could spend a week without your phone?

What about your teenagers? Do they spend more time with you or texting their friends?

Fox 13, set up a little experiment to see if three area teens could go without their prized possession for five days.
What we got from their parents was shock and a few changes.
"Torture," Riley Williamson, 13,  said.
"I'm going to die," Hannah Smith, 17, said. "I do not know how I'm going to make it," Williamson said.

"It's like I'm disconnected from the whole world. It's like nobody really knows who I am anymore," said 16 year old Brian Brasswell.

You won't believe what caused these teens to react this way.

"It's a main topic right now. Everybody has twitter, everybody has phones, everybody has Facebook. It's just one of those things that people don't think they can go without now," Smith said.

Technology. It's with them all the time.

"It's constantly pulling it out everywhere. My daughter is never without her phone," Hannah's mother, Diane Smith, said.

"My son is obsessed. No doubt. He is always texting on the phone. Always got earphones in," Brian's dad, Tony Brasswell, said.

Between the three teens we worked with, they send nearly 10,000 text messages each month. That's nothing, compared to their Facebook, instagram and twitter usage.

The technology in their lives has created a new realm for parents to police.

"I know there have been multitudes that we've had to say, you know, that's not appropriate," Diane Smith said.

"Our parents didn't have to deal with that. Not in that respect. My parents were like 'Hey, no girls in the backroom,' and that was it. That was it," Tony Brasswell said.

These parents and the crew at Fox 13 wanted to know what would happen if we removed technology from the unsuspecting teens' lives for five days.

No phones. No social media.

We didn't take away all technology. We sent them home with camcorders. What we got in return were some pretty hilarious quotes.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I might have to use the landline," Williamson said.

"Yesterday I was really angry, but today I just give up. I'm really annoyed," Smith said.

"Yeah, its been a pretty stressful day," Brasswell said.

"Well, it's Wednesday. It's been three days without my phone and I'm counting down to when I can have it again. Because today, I made cookies. I don't cook," Smith said.

These teens and their parents agree, they are addicted to their phones. Sounds bad, but parenting expert and author Brian Housman said it's not the technology that's bad, just what you do with it. "Technology is such a huge part of their life that it's going to be natural for them, when these things are removed hat there are to be some natural agitation or confusion or I don't know what  to do with my time."

Five days after the experiment began, these kids got their precious iPhones back.

Smith had 166 unread text messages when she powered up her phone.

The challenge brought a little positivity to the entire families. Tina Brasswell said her son Brian baked for her, while Diane Smith said she was able to spend much appreciated quality time with her phone-less daughter. "We went for a walk together. That was pretty fun."

It even sparked a little household change. "We're going to probably have some conversations, my husband and I, just in terms of maybe some phone-free times of the day," Diane Smith said.

"It was worth it for me to see how much of withdrawal he had and for me to share it with my friends and for them to say I don't think I can. I started during the week, putting my phone away a little more," said Brian's mother, Tina.

In the end, they all survived the challenge. But even so-- these teens all agreed they will never try this again.

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