You guys, our (almost in a month) 10 year old is on the cell phone bandwagon, I know, shocking, right? He’s been pestering us for months, or perhaps years for a phone of his own and we have yet to relent. He argues that some of his friends have them (I think one does) or that it would make it easy for him to keep in touch with us (from where? The living room?). He’s funny when he says it too, like “oh, I’m getting a phone, yes I am” or “Grandma will get it for me,” which of course she won’t because I already threatened her life so we’re safe there. The determination in his voice is something I wish he would put into his required reading at night. He’s counting down the days until his 10th birthday and I keep preparing him to be ready to NOT be getting a phone. On my walk back from dropping him at school this morning I was thinking of the pros and cons of him having a phone, and honestly, I could not think of one pro, not one. These days he’s either in school, at his after school program or at a lesson, practice, playdate or some extra curricular activity with adult supervision therefore leaving him without the need to contact us himself.
My issue is this…and I am guilty of it too, we’re giving kids access to electronics so they can play their games and not bug us. Hell, when our little one was a year old he could navigate the iPad better than I could. It’s beginning to irritate me more and more though, kids not making eye contact when spoken to, not engaging in conversations that are being initiated by adults; if that was me when I was 10, I would be slapped for being rude. So now we’re working backward in our house. My children are not allowed to play on my phone at all and they know it. It’s mine, there are no games on it and I refuse to download them to keep them appeased for 10 minutes. Suck it up and have a conversation at the dinner table or at the restaurant we’re spending our hard earned money on for you to enjoy. I don’t feel bad in the least telling them to put down the electronics and to pay attention to their surroundings or to pick up a freaking book!! When we’re in the car, we’ve started to play games or listen to podcasts that might interest them and have conversation around the content. I’m on a mission to make the phone something that’s not so important. I saw a picture recently of a bunch of people standing on a sideline at a parade and every person in it was on their phone taking a picture or recording it with the exception of one older woman who was soaking it all in with her eyeballs. She was paying attention to the scene unfolding around her, with a big smile on her face, enjoying the moment. We’re losing that, and we’re losing it fast.
We’re not getting him a phone for his 10th birthday. He’ll survive. The day will come soon enough, like next school year when he’s taking public transportation alone, when it will make us feel better that he has one. Instead, for the next 12 months we’ll focus on watching the seasons change, practice our eye contact making and being present. I think that’s the best gift we can give him for his birthday this year.