License to Not Parent
Are cell phones replacing the need for parenting skills?
My 14 year old hates me. Well, maybe I'm being overly dramatic, or maybe not. Every kid at North Paulding High School has a cell phone, except for him. Why? Because I am an overbearing, unrealistic and overprotecting mother who wants to make her child miserable, at least in his mind.
Technology is taking over. Yes, that is great in many ways. Where would I be without Online Banking and MapQuest? Broke and lost. However, I really think technology is coming with a price that is directly affecting all of us.
According to a study performed by Pew Research, 75% of kids ages 12-17 own a cell phone. The same study reports that a major reason that 98% of parents allow their teen to have a cell is so "that they can be in touch no matter where the teen is".
This summer I was more than a little disgusted that I had to ask children at VBS to put away their iPhones, and let them know that texting and updating a Facebook status is inappropriate during church. This is not a conversation I would ever dreamed of having with 3rd graders.
Yes, it would be convenient for my child to contact me to let me know the away football game ran into overtime and to wait 45 minutes before coming to pick him up. Yes, it would be nice to be able to contact him in a store instead of our usual "meet me in front of check out in 30 minutes".
My reasoning in our conversations has been that he doesn't need one until he drives or has a job. Until then, he will be at school or in a supervised setting where there will be an adult with access to a phone.
I know how this works, I see it everyday. Technology can make you lazy. It can make for lazy kids and lazy parents. Are cell phones a license to NOT parent? Do I give my kid a phone and release him out into the world, trusting that he will contact me if needed? Do I actually believe that my child will tell me the truth about where he is, whom he is with, and what he is doing--simply because I have the ability to call and ask him?
No, I can't do it. I can sound like a good parent concerned about overuse of technology and safety of having one of those things plastered to his body every day, but that's not the real reason I don't want him to have one.
During high school, I drove a hunk of junk and had to check in from pay phones. I have fond memories of the stealth and ingenuity I had to undertake in order to get into trouble. It was a game my parents thrived on: showing up and "surprising me" at the football game or movies, calling another parent to double-check my story, or making sure the "land-line" caller-id matched up with my supposed "location".
Why would I as a parent want to miss out on that kind of excitement?
My child should have to work just as hard to get into trouble as I did, and be able to look back one day and relish every sneaking moment.