Yep, we’re still living in the dark ages and my tweenage sweetheart lets me know this almost daily. She claims she NEEEEEDS a phone so she can call ME, text ME, and keep ME up to date while she is away from home. Although I love that she still needs me to be a huge part of her life, I’m positive that there are others she would want to share her crazy, duck-lipped pictures with. I know before long she, too, will be staring down at screens, taking selfies, and texting her friends; forgetting to call “dear old mom.”
So why, given that it is somewhat inevitable, have I chosen to hold the line and wait on the phone?
I’ve done this for a few reasons.
- The biggest reason is I’m not sure she is ready for all that a cell phone brings. The constant connection, the constant input, the constant need to think about…well, adult things. As adults, we are bombarded with trying to manage time, money, work, stress, and family. We often find “adulting” hard. She will have many years to “adult.” Why start so early?
- For me, the phone signifies my loss of control, and like it or not, that’s scary. As moms, we choose the best diapers, strollers, schools, camps, teachers, and routines for our children. We do the research and we make the choice. As our kids get older, we allow them more choices and slowly their independence leads to less of a need for mom to be the decision maker. While I encourage this and want my occasionally irrational tween to grow into a strong, independent adult, I’m not ready to walk away and leave her alone in the driver’s seat yet. This is one way I can help her make good choices with friends, school, and relationships. Her friends text my phone, we both see the texts, talk about a good response, and she types. I like to think of it as driver’s ed for phone use.
- Finally, as a mom (and former elementary and middle school teacher) I know what outside stimulants do to kids. You know that crazy Valentine’s Day party at school where they play games and fill your little baby with more sugar than any human should ever eat in one sitting, then send them home for you to enjoy the repercussions? Electronics are like sugar to the developing brain of these tweens. Too much and there will be repercussions. My sweet girl spends much of her school day on a laptop, reading electronic textbooks and articles. When I factor in more screen time on a phone or tablet, she quickly turns from her normally pleasant, respectful persona, to her emotionally unstable alter ego, Alice. Her brain is just not ready for that overload yet.
So, we’ve made the choice to hold the line when she begs for a cell phone.
We’ve made the choice to hold the line when other parents seem baffled by our choice and question us at every turn. We’ve made the choice to wait for a bit longer and let her grow. It is the right choice for us… right now. Is it sometimes difficult or inconvenient? Yes! I know there will come a time soon when sports, convenience, and necessity will change things for us.
But for now, we’ll hold the line.