February 24, 2018


Brandon, I need your help! My friends have been texting me the WHOLE day. Not only that, but they also FaceTime and call me. I can’t even do my homework because I keep getting distracted! You’ve gotta help me figure something out FAST, or none of my homework will get done. What should I do?!

Distracted And Distressed

Hey Distracted And Distressed,

This sounds like a huge, um…distraction! But on the other hand, you have lots of friends who love you. I mean, that’s not ALL bad! 🙂

But I get it! It can be really hard to focus when your phone is constantly buzzing. Even when it’s NOT buzzing, there can be an edgy feeling of glancing at the phone and wondering when it’s going to buzz again, which makes it SUPER hard to get your brain in the right place to do homework!

But also…you have to take some responsibility too. It’s not like they’re knocking on your door and shouting in your window. You have the ability to turn your phone off. Like, all the way off. Or on airplane mode. Or lock it in another room until you’re done with your homework.

I know it’s hard. You might feel like you’re going to miss out on something. Or you might worry your friends are going to be mad at you if you go silent for a while. And THAT is what’s unfair. It’s not unfair that they text all the time. They’re free to do what they want with their phones. But it IS unfair if they expect you to be available every second of the day, and always have an instant response to their texts. That is TOTALLY unfair.

If that’s the case, I think you have a couple options.

I think the best choice is to tell your friends you’re turning off your devices when you do homework so you can get it done faster and be available to hang out quicker. (And if they contact you on the device you’re doing work on, like a tablet or laptop, disable Facetime or whatever during that time.) If your friends give you a hard time about it, that’s their problem. People learn differently, and some people don’t mind distractions. They even help their brains process information somehow. Other people need it quiet so that they can focus (I’m like that, so I feel you).

And if you don’t feel confident you can stand up for what you need on your own, then blame your parents. You can tell your friends your parents are banning devices until you’re done with homework. And if you don’t want to lie, you can even talk to your parents and ask them to make that rule. I doubt they’ll object. 🙂

(I wouldn’t normally suggest lying to friends as a solution, and in the long run, I think it’s best if you figure out how to set your own boundaries with your friends and your tech. But at the same time, if your schoolwork is suffering, I think you do what you need to do.)

It seems like this is an issue that never ends – you see adults talking about trying not to be so connected to their phones, too. Probably lots of people have trouble focusing on their jobs and families because of their phones. It’s probably really great to figure out how to handle this now, before it becomes a bigger problem.

I hope this helps. I’m SURE you’re not the only one who feels this way. Who else has trouble doing their homework because of constant texts or phone/video calls? How do you handle it, and how did your friends respond? Tell us in the comments.