Follow Up to Teens and Texting

Thank you to all who responded to my earlier blog on Teens and Texting. I think this is a huge topic – one which I will return to again and again. And if you haven’t responded to my original blog entry, I encourage you to add your voice now!
My main concern is that parents think through the whole issue of how their children’s lives – how their families’ lives – will be affected by use of technology such as cell phones by their children. And it is no good thinking about it after the fact!
And this also means pre-empting generous inlaws and others from giving cell phones and similar machines to your children. You need to think it through and you and your spouse need to be on the same page with this. A friend of mine thought she was on top of this one – delayed cell phone use in her eldest son and daughter until they were 16 and 14 and in high school. Well, she sent dearest husband out to the store to buy the phones – and guess what? There was a great offer of three phones for the price of two which he couldn’t pass up. So the twelve year old also was presented with a phone – which has been a huge problem in that particular family.
I’ve been amused recently to hear a song playing on the radio by Lady Gaga – not someone I really thought I’d have positive things to say about in the context of this blog or my work….! She has a new song called Telephone and it’s basically about her telling her friends (or whoever they are) to stop calling her while she’s out having fun dancing at a club! OK – so there’s a line about not thinking and leaving one’s head on the dance floor which I will pretend to ignore – simply because I am so overjoyed at the idea of someone like her who, like it or not, is looked up to by millions of teens across the globe, setting a limit on cell phone use! Yes – while out having fun one should not allow oneself to be constantly interrupted. So a little bit of a “yay” for Lady Gaga (a very little bit….)
Then we have the following article from The New York Times entitled If Your Kids are Awake, They’re Probably Online. Well, that just about sums it up for an awful large segment of the population, doesn’t it?
So think about it. Really carefully. And think about your own use of a cell phone (if you have one – I refuse to own one as I have no desire to be on call all the time – if I’m away from the land line, then people can just leave a message). Think about how your children see you use yours. Are you truly present for them and for other people? Can you create boundaries for yourself and let your children see that? Are you overly reliant on the phone or can you figure things out yourself  – while we’re at it, do you use a GPS device or can you use your own memory, and common sense to find things? I can remember being on a bus ride with my sons and husband a couple of years ago – the GPS unit on the bus malfunctioned and the driver was completely lost. It took my husband (who is English and has never been to that part of this country before) to use his own sense for direction, landmarks and common sense to help the driver find our destination. My sons were very impressed by this.
So…technology is good – absolutely! But it need to be mastered by us – and not be our master. And children – even teens – are not yet in the stage of life when they can truly master such things.

Posted on February 8, 2010 in Family Life and Parenting, Older Children, Technology

COMMENTS
  • Sumiyeh Aboosaiedi says:

    Dear Donna:
    I couldn’t agree more on this topic. I am aghast when my almost 11 y/o tells me that Little Johnny, who’s younger than him, already has a cell phone, or worse yet, an iPhone, so why can’t he?! Besides the fact of not arguing with a ten y/o because what Mama says is what goes (that’s another topic, right?), but when you are a home schooler, just how often does he think he has enough distance between him and me to warrant that device?! I’m guessing when he goes off to college…
    Regarding not owning a cell phone because you don’t want to be on call all the time, I simply put them on silent or vibrate and DON”T ANSWER! When someone asks why I’m not answering a call, I respond that I have a cell phone for MY OWN CONVENIENCE, NOT FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF OTHERS.

  • Marie says:

    I also totally agree. I have a 12 year old daughter who is wanting her own phone (an iPhone no less!), but as a homeschooler, it’s rare that she’s really apart from me, and I see no need for her to have one. But she sees other friends, even those much younger, who have their own cell phones. I know that if I were to buy her one, she would be constantly texting, playing games, because I’ve seen this tendency towards addictive behavior with elecronics.
    I have been at family get-togethers where 2 sisters who are a year apart from each other will sit in different rooms of the house and text each other. They are not interacting with anyone around them, and instead of getting up and walking to the other room so they can talk in person, they text. I have seen these same teenagers visiting my parents text their mother who is sitting at the dining room table eating breakfast while they are buried in the back bedroom!
    I do own a cell phone but for my own convenience. If I don’t want to answer it, I don’t. I don’t use the texting feature. And when I’m home, it’s usually plugged in somewhere so I don’t even hear it if it rings. I will eventually probably get a smartphone because we travel a fair amount and it’s convenient to be able to check things on the web while on the road, but again, it will be for my own convenience, and not to be constantly tethered to others.
    For all these same reasons, my daughter will never have a computer in her bedroom (we don’t have wireless internet in our house anyway and no laptops either) or a television or any such thing. If she’s going to be on a computer, it will be in our very public office where we can see what she’s doing. And if she’s watching TV, I want to know what is on. We also greatly limit computer and TV time. She is an incredibly savvy computer user, which is natural because her father and I are both computer professionals. But still, she gets very limited computer time because she’s not yet able to control her time and easily gets sucked into games.

  • Britt says:

    I think that in favor of simplifying our lives, limiting cell phone use is a must.

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