Ask Amy

Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 7:05pm

DEAR AMY: We have been exposed to countless news stories describing the extreme amount of time young people spend in front of a screen each day and their addiction to technology.

I seem to be experiencing the opposite problem.

My mom recently got an iPhone and will not put the device down for one minute. She is a stay-at-home mom, so her phone usage is not for business purposes; she simply cannot take a break from her emails or "Words with Friends" games.

While we are walking somewhere, she lags behind because she cannot walk and text at the same time and doesn't fully pay attention to our conversations because she is distracted by her phone activity.

I have explained to her that it makes me feel she isn't present in our conversations, but nothing changes.

I am the child; she is supposed to be telling me to get off the phone, not the other way around. But I do not have the authority that a parent has over a child to simply demand that she hang up.

How can I get my mom to stop being such a phone addict?

— Neglected Child

DEAR CHILD: Studies confirm that smartphone addiction is a real phenomenon (with a reported 70 percent of respondents in one Stanford University study saying they sleep with their phones).

While you can't cut off your mother the way some parents would, by (for instance) yanking her phone from her hand and hurling it out the window (my particular fantasy), you can talk about it once more and then try to retrain her Pavlovian iPhone response in real time.

See if she will agree to a "no phone zone" from 6 to 8 p.m.

You two can enforce this discipline by deliberately leaving distraction devices in another room.

Also, pet stores sell clickers for animal training. You might see if your mother is capable of being retrained like a Labrador retriever through selective clicking, followed by treats.

DEAR AMY: I'm 16. A couple of weeks ago, I won a radio contest and got two tickets to see my favorite band in concert.

I was ecstatic when I found out.

When my mom found out, though, she freaked out.

She doesn't want me to go because she thinks it's not safe enough for me (this is an all-ages concert, by the way).

I'm willing to give the second ticket to a mature adult, but she still won't let me go!

She has this old thinking that girls shouldn't go to events like this because a drunk person might hurt me.

How can I convince her that nothing's going to happen to me and that I'm responsible and trustworthy?

— Concertgoer

DEAR CONCERTGOER: I shared your question with Roxanne Steele, a DJ for 98.7 AMP radio in Detroit.

She responds, "As a radio DJ who gives away tickets to music fans, I know how hard it is to actually get through to win, so when you finally do, naturally you want to go!

"I see kids at concerts all the time, and they're usually with their parents. Is your mom willing to go with you? Even if you don't really want her as your date, this could be an opportunity for her to see what concerts these days are like — and also how you would handle yourself."

Although I believe that this event poses almost no risk to you, I agree with Roxanne: You're boxed into a corner, so it's time to ask your mom out.

Speaking as an adult survivor of a long ago "mom date" (1976, Jackson Browne), I assure you that it would be worth it.

DEAR AMY: "Conflicted Father" couldn't decide how to name his children.

When my husband of 14 years and I were getting married, I was opposed to taking his last name and he was opposed to taking mine, so we did the obvious thing and both changed our names to something we could agree on. We love our new family name and were proud to pass it along to our daughter.

— Tina Ann M

DEAR TINA: This question brought on a hefty response. I'll run other suggestions in future columns.

Send questions via email to askamy@tribune.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

Filed under: Lifestyles
Tagged: ask amy

1 Comment on this post:

By: dustywood on 7/16/12 at 8:43

Concert Goer.... I took MY DAUGHTER and two of her friends to concerts all the time. I had told her that I would only take her to one at the Grand Ol' Opry...a very nice place to be. TEARS FOR FEARS was playing. I need ear plugs due to the screaming excitement of the girls! Next thing I know , I am standing in line getting tickets, as soon as I got off the night shift. We had a great time together. I enjoyed the music, too. With reserved seating ( most all will stand up) we were out of the rain, etc. The rest were grass seats. Though checked when entering, small bottles of alchol were found in those areas. Only one major problem occurred, several years later. That is when a old ex boyfirend was waiting in the parking lot and shot his girlfriend. This venue closed a few years ago. Concerts are now in the arena, where there is better supervision as to safety. Yes , I was concerned for our only childs safety. So me going with her as the mom transportation made some fun and wonderful experiences for me. By the way, I was denied an Elvis concert and a Beatles concert. My neighbor across the street had tickets.