Please don’t let my kids grow up to be afraid of doorbells

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Just as I was driving away from kindergarten drop-off this week and wondering how my wee ones would face the world, I turned up the radio to a story about millennials who were afraid of doorbells. I thought it was a joke: the juxtaposition was so stark.

Here we are on the first week of school trying to teach our children independence and adults in their mid-twenties feel stressed when the doorbell rings.

According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, “Some smartphone-carrying millennials and Gen Zers are so used to texting upon arrival that the sound of a ringing doorbell freaks them out; ‘it’s terrifying.’”

The story was based on data from a Twitter poll with more than 11,000 votes with 54% or respondents saying, “doorbells scary weird.”

Terrifying? Scary weird? In the Western World we’re lucky to be pretty safe. What are we so afraid of?

“I consider this (hopefully) soon-to-be obsolete device highly intrusive, but also hugely panic-inducing. And, it seems I'm far from alone in this,” wrote millennial Rachel Thompson for the site Mashable.

What if you move in to a new neighbourhood and your neighbour wants to bring you a pie? How are they supposed to get your attention if they don’t have your cell number, wave frantically through the window? These millennials would probably have a heart attack.

The first generation to grow up with smartphones is so dependent on them that they can’t walk up to the door of a friend’s house without texting to warn them that they are approaching.

It used to be that after a date you’d wonder if he’d call the next day.

Now? They’re frantically checking their phones as soon as they part ways.

Contrast this with a B.C. single-father of five who was told by the provincial government that he cannot send his four oldest kids, aged seven to 11 on the bus from Vancouver to their North Vancouver elementary school by themselves.

He has now said he’s challenging the decision and raising money to be able to do so.

Surely somewhere between hiding from doorbells and sending your seven-year-old on several buses without an adult, there’s a middle ground.

Can’t we teach our kids to be careful and independent, to answer the door politely the way most of us older than 25 we taught to when we were young?

The newly-launched Vancouver-based app, Lipsi is designed to help you start a conversation with that person beside you in the coffee shop… through your phone.

There’s a whole world beyond our smartphones and it appears all those reassuring texts and enabling apps are making us unable to function in it.

It makes me all the more aware of how important it is to teach my kids how to start conversations and answer the door.