The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female junior high school student. I’m worried my mother has become too absorbed in her smartphone.
She spends all day learning English vocabulary using a specialized app. She also recently began communicating with friends via a free app. These things are now a greater priority than even cooking. She tends to be tardy with cleaning the house and washing clothes. When I’m out with her, she is always playing smartphone games. If I talk to her at the wrong times, she gets angry.
I feel hurt by her behavior, which suggests playing games is more important than spending quality time with her daughter.
My father, older sister and I have been trying to convey our concerns to her: “We don’t want your highest priority to be your smartphone. We want you to stop.” However, we have probably only expressed our dissatisfaction mildly. My mother always just half-heartedly responds, “Sure, sure,” and doesn’t take us seriously. I’m tired of saying the same thing over and over again.
I’m concerned about her health as she is always inactive at home. I ask her to go swimming or to work out with my father and sister, but she doesn’t listen. It seems she is at home playing games when we are out for the day at school or work. She has no sense of the consequences of her current lifestyle.
What should I do to make her come to her senses?
T, Kanagawa Prefecture
Dear Ms. T:
You use a smartphone, don’t you? What about your father and older sister?
You can’t demand your mother change her behavior because you also use a smartphone, although you are less attached to it. In other words, you and your mother only differ in how deeply attached you are to your smartphone.
Your mother may have felt you too can’t do without a smartphone and is unhappy about your attitude to her. You should be aware people see things differently.
If you don’t use a smartphone at all, it may be easier to persuade your mother to come to her senses. If you regularly use smartphone, even if less heavily, and if the other family members are also regular users, I can suggest only one solution: You should discuss this matter together to define a set of mutual rules, such as when, how long and where you can play smartphone games, and so on.
I suggest you first talk to your father and older sister about having such a meeting. If they say your mother is all right and setting rules is too much, then you’ve probably been worrying too much.
If you are unhappy about the way she cleans and washes, think about helping her.
Tatsuro Dekune, writer