DEAR ABBY: My younger sister “Lainie” is 14. She has had a smartphone for about a year. While I don’t belong to any social media sites, Lainie is a social media junkie. She never goes anywhere without her phone. Sometimes she’ll have her phone in one hand and her tablet in the other, taking turns when one or the other begins to bore her. It’s almost impossible to interact with her because her face is buried in the virtual world just about every hour of the day and night.
I miss the way things used to be before she got that smartphone. I have talked about this with my parents. While they are equally concerned about Lainie’s withdrawn, sometimes secretive behavior, they never do anything about it. What are your thoughts on this topic? — GADGET GIRL’S SISTER IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR SISTER: It’s common for teens to spend a lot of time on their phones and computers. But when they become withdrawn and secretive, it is time for a parental intervention. If your folks are equally concerned about your sister’s behavior, they should step in, find out what’s going on and do something about it, if necessary. If they don’t already, they could start by scheduling family dinners during which cellphones are turned off or put away.
DEAR ABBY: Christmas is nearly here, and I’m concerned about my brother. I’m afraid he blames himself for his 28-year-old daughter’s suicide, which was by no means his fault. This will be his first Christmas without her. I don’t know what to do for him. Any suggestions? — CHALLENGED IN MICHIGAN
DEAR CHALLENGED: When a close family member commits suicide, it is common for survivors to experience a range of emotions. Anger and guilt are two of them. If possible, encourage your brother to spend Christmas with you or other relatives. You should also suggest he join a survivors support group.
The American Association of Suicidology provides referrals to local self-help groups for survivors of suicide. Its website is www.suicidology.org. If he joins one, it will…