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.