The Gen Z phone phobia — FranklyStein

Adam phoneMy kids — like many in their generation — seem to have a phobia of talking on the phone.

The other day my husband asked my 16-year-old son to call the bike shop to find out if the bike he wanted was in stock, and he bulked at the suggestion. He wanted to e-mail the store instead — which I'm sure would have yielded the needed information in a week or so. Only after my husband explained that adults use the phone and threatened not to take him, did my son finally use the dial pad on his iPhone, maybe for the first time ever.

Coincidentally, I had the same conversation with him later that night. He got a call about a job he'd applied to, and he was supposed to call back. He was less than thrilled and once again, asked if he could just email.

Over the years, I've worked with a number of high school and college age interns. They are great at finding information on the internet, emailing, texting, tracking down just about anything via social media, but they all seem to avoid the phone like the plague. When you are trying to track down the hours of a pumpkin farm in August, it's not always available on the website — if there even is a website. So in our business, it's essential to use the phone, something that the young interns seem afraid of.

I can relate to the phobia part. When I was a kid, I hated calling anyone I didn't know. I remember getting sweaty palms when calling a store just to see if it was open. But back then, there was no alternative. The only way to find out certain information was to pick up a phone and call. The more I did it, the easier it got.

I'm trying to help my kids see the importance of using the phone on occasion, but it just might be a losing battle. There's not a chance for them to practice all that often. I remember once walking into a hotel to register and calling my kids in the car to bring me my wallet. I tried dialing each of their phones but no one answered. As soon as I texted, I got my wallet.

This generation is off the hook. But of course, they don't really know what that means.

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 18, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.