I was in a Parenting class on Sunday at our church when the question came up. “What is one UNPOPULAR decision that you’ve made as a parent for your children?” It took me a few minutes, but then I figured ours out.
Thus far, we have not given our kids their own cell phones. And for as long as we can, we’re going to stick with it. With a son in 7th and a daughter in 4th I knew the days were coming where the pressure would start for them to get their own. After all, many of their peers have them and so of course, they want them as well.
But for me, it’s been such an internal conflict. On the one hand, I know there are perks. For instance, it’s nice to have an option to keep in touch with your kids. It’s nice to be able to know what they are doing and where they are at. We actually started out the year with a third “Family phone.” Which meant that it wasn’t for texting friends, but only for us to get in touch when needed. It didn’t end well. Because the first one technically ended up dropped in the Bay and the replacement was also dropped (screen cracked) and started to introduce some of the many non-perks of letting your child have a phone.
A bit of history. Jeremy and I grew up in the late 80s into the 90s. We played outside all day long, we rode bikes and we talked face to face with our fiends. Sure, my sisters and I played games on our Super Nintendo, but often times it was with each other or with friends and since it was connected to our family television, it was naturally a limited privilege. Sometimes, looking around and seeing toddlers who can navigate cell phones better than some adults makes me wonder. What will a generation of kids who have access to constant screen entertainment grow up to be like?
I should make note. This post isn’t to judge or to shame. It’s simply my mom’s heart, trying to express concerns that I have for our own kids who are growing up in this tech generation. I very much love kids and other people’s kids, but I have a huge burden for our own kids and for our desire to raise them to become successful and productive and God-loving adults and so this is where these thoughts are coming from.
We went to Maine a few weekends ago. Our kids got to explore some of the most amazing places. They could have stayed and played for hours. And it made my heart so happy to see them outdoors, enjoying this incredible world that God has given us. A keener awareness of the world around them, is definitely a perk of non-phones.
Another is teaching them to find their self worth and value in who they are, and not in how many people like their social media. We have a daughter, and I have this extra burden with her that she would not get caught up in the comparison game that happens all around us every day. Social media tends to enhance this, since you can see what everyone else is doing all the time, and it naturally feeds the need to compare. I want her to be strong and kind and beautiful because she has a beautiful heart and because she is confident in who she is because she is loved not only by her friends and family, but most of all by Jesus. If they ever develop an app for that, then that would be worthwhile, right?
Like I mentioned before though, our decision to not let our kids have cell phones isn’t alway a popular one. They aren’t always thrilled by it, but too bad. My goal as a mom isn’t that our kids get everything they want in life. My goal is that I can help them as much as I can to be kind and good and hardworking adults that aren’t a menace to society. But this doesn’t just happen. It takes work. And sometimes them not being happy with me.
I know that when our kids aren’t plugged in so much to their technology, they are encouraged to get plugged in to the world around them. Our son has taken extended technology breaks in the past, and these times have been so incredible for his heart and his body and his mind and his attitude. Kids don’t need to be constantly entertained. They need to be bored. They need to go explore and to be outdoors. They need the quiet time. They need to daydream and to think and to have time to just figure it all out.
There is so much to see and do in this world, in this life. And I want our kids to see it and to do great things.
It’s not an easy call. And for the record, they do have access to other forms of technology. We have iPads and they watch shows on tv, well, Netflix. We aren’t completely off the grid. But we do consciously work to limit it. We give them set amounts of time and are trying to teach them that it’s a privilege and something earned after they do the things that they need to do. I’ve already been interrogated by our older child as to why we are so STRICT. But I’m mostly okay with being strict.
Because as I said, my end game is for their benefit. We are desiring to raise our kids to be teens and adults that are present and personable. We work with them so that they will hopefully learn a balance. I’m sure at some point, things will change. But for now, this is where we are, and as unpopular as it maybe, it’s what is working for us.
Finishing up this post, there’s totally this little voice in me that wonders if I’m the only one that has this struggle? If you can relate, I’d love to hear any feedback… either in the comment section here or through Facebook 🙂