I don’t know about you all out there, but I have major issues with cell phone use. To be more exact, I have issues with texting. I find myself saying, “I don’t know what it is about it that drives me so nuts,” but I actually think I do. And the more I think about it, the more I really feel as parents we need to set healthy limits.
Anything that we haven’t set limits to on the onset of something, or at an early age — is going to be more difficult to do now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t or we shouldn’t.
Technology, while it’s a great thing in many ways, can also be a huge distraction, not to mention addiction even sometimes. The one word that I came up with when I kept asking myself “What is bugging me so bad?” is this: STIMULATION.
These Gen Y and Millenial kids are beyond overstimulated if you ask me. From video games, to hand held games, to cell phones, TV to computers and laptops. And that’s just technology. I didn’t mention the stimulation just from a long day at school or activities and in some kids’ case, jobs.
I’ll ask my daughter, “Now who are you texting?” BTW, I wonder when that word will be in the Dictionary, HA.
The thing is is I ask her, “Why would you want to be constantly connected to someone? Why would you want to answer someone who texts you continually?”
Her answer surprised me. “I really don’t like to text!” She told me she’d much rather talk on the phone.
Well, remember when we were teenagers? What did we do in our spare time? Talked on the phone with our friends. So texting is really no different, that is just what they do now instead. But back in the day, we didn’t have call waiting or voicemail and we had other kids in our family who also needed the phone, so we didn’t talk as much as the texting that goes on. I mean, I really feel it is a constant thing. I personally would not want to be bound to have to answer to someone the moment they text me! No thank you!
When my daughter got her cell phone last summer, I had boundaries set for it right away. And overall she’s pretty good about it, but I think I need to refine them myself. I’ll list the ones here that I have been using with her for the last year and then some new ones that I need to implement. Maybe this isn’t an issue for you at the moment but if it ever is, I hope this helps a little:
- No texting during dinner hours. This could be while helping with dinner, and during and right after during clean up.
- No phone (texting) during Homework. I’ve been to lenient with this, but it is a huge distraction I’ve discovered, and she’s admitted.
- No phone while out to dinner or at family/friend gatherings. It’s absolutely rude if we did it as adults and it’s unacceptable for your teenager to sit and do it also.
- No texting or limited texting when we are “catching up.” There have been plenty of times where I’m trying to catch up with my daughter, like right when I pick her up from school, or at the grocery store or whatever, and she’s like, “What, huh?” Ah, no dice girl, you’re talking with me now! Two convos at once has never worked. It isn’t fair to the person who is right in front of you; it’s disrespectful. Just because our children try to do this, doesn’t mean we should allow it.
- Charge Cell phone in Kitchen or wherever the rest of the family has set up a “charging station.” That way, we’ll know when they turn the lights out, their brains are going out too! Plus, it’s just radiation that we don’t want in their rooms anyway!
- No cell phone at home after or 9pm. This last one is a possibility. If someone needs to reach your child, they can call the house phone. This time limit could vary depending on the child.
I also think it’s important to talk about why being over stimulated isn’t a good thing. Walk through these boundaries with your child and tell him or her why it’s a good idea to have these limits.
I tell my daughter that it’s important and vital for her soul and mind to rest. She shouldn’t constantly have something going on. Give your kids ideas of what they could do in some down time. I tell my daughter to reflect in her room, or go for a walk, or pray. Sure, your kids aren’t going to be great at this everyday, but even having these limits on the cell phone will help calm the brain a bit. And whether they are “resting” their minds or not, it’s still a benefit to not be bound to their phone.
I understand as parents we have to change with the times, and accept that this is “What the kids are doing” to a point. But I also believe that we don’t have to conform to the patterns of this world, and that our kids will do the same stuff as everyone else because “That’s just how it is.” I don’t accept that.
If you need ideas on what the benefits are specifically, or you disagree or have any comments or questions, I’d love to know.
And good luck on the texting journey, I know I need it, as I’ve been very close
to throwing her phone OUT THE WINDOW!
About Gina Norma
Gina Norma grew up in St. Paul MN, and enjoys art, reading, traveling, thrift shopping, picnics, volunteering and spending time with her 17-year-old. One day she hopes to go to Italy, attend college, and solve world hunger. Gina says, “To me, parenting is all about building relationships with our kids and walking along side them — not trying to control them or use shame.” You can read Gina’s blog at www.walkwithyourteen.blogspot.com.