A Technological Decision
I had a person ask me today what limits I put on my kids’ use of their phone.
Imagine the horror in their faces when I told that same person that only my daughters – ages 19 and 15 at this writing – are the only kids with cell phones. The other person was so taken aback that they literally could not continue the conversation.
I don’t state this as a techno-shaming moment nor do I try to make myself look better. There just didn’t seem to be a need for my sons – twins at age 11 as of this writing – to have cell phones. They go to school near the house, they know how to get home safely, and I have a home phone should the house catch on fire or someone try to break in or if one of them cuts off a digit or falls down the stairs and needs an ambulance.
It isn’t as though the three kids and I haven’t had this discussion. My middle child – coincidentally in the middle in that picture – has had an Instagram account for a little while. The caveat was that I am one of her followers and that I have access to the data, use and other apps on her phone. I don’t log on – or haven’t in a long while – but she always knows that if there’s cause for alarm I’ll know it.
Still . . . when she turned 15 I thought she was old enough to handle a social media account. I offered to let her have a Facebook page . . . and she just didn’t want it. Apparently, Facebook is for old people like me. She lives and communicates via text and Instagram with her friends, some of whom have had to move out of state. I am fortunate in that my kids haven’t given me cause for alarm.
The boys see nearly every child in their class with iPhones around them. Neither boy has a phone but neither has it bothered them much. My son told me yesterday how several kids in their PE class had their phones confiscated . . . because they’d been texting, calling, and using Facebook during class.
“Almost everybody has a phone,” said my son. I was prepared for the argument and headed it off:
“You don’t need a phone yet.”
My son just looked at me a bit confused.
“I wasn’t asking for a phone . . . I was just telling you these kids had their phones taken. What do I need a phone for?”
It was here I realized that they couldn’t miss what they never had. Sure, I’ve let them play games on my phone. When I mention that they do that he simply informs me that he has a Gameboy and it’s got the ability to play games in 3D. The phone doesn’t. I ask what happens if they need to get hold of me and he tells me the school has phones and the house has a phone.
We worry that we’re immersing our kids in too much technology. I worry when my kids would prefer to play their video games and the Wii and watch television all day. It’s not, though, because of the technological rot. It’s because I want them to get up and move around more.
Overall, though, I came to a technological realization that I needn’t have worried about the tech so much. My kids didn’t crave it nor did they miss it.
Maybe that makes them a rarity.
I prefer to think it’s because, as I’ve said before, kids are far smarter than we give them credit.