Monday, September 23, 2013

That Toxic Phone!

One of of our biggest challenges as parents of teens, is controlling those darned mobile phones they have. Even before our older kids moved in with us, we had restrictions on their phones when they spent weekends, holidays, and summers with us. This might have been one of the reasons why their visits became shorter and less frequent as they began to navigate their teens. Time with us meant time away from their phones. The phones consumed them and screwed up their priorities. But now that they live with us full-time, they're facing a drastic change of habit here.

My husband and I are always amazed at how those kids' personalities slowly transform to a more natural and pleasant state of being within an hour of being away from their cell phones. They become more aware, more present, more grateful, more attentive, more respectful,  and the list goes on. They're just awesome kids,  really, but when they have their attention on their phones, they become "wild animals," as their dad would say. We believe that extreme phone usage (and online socialization!) really distort teens' perception of reality and they grow up numb and lose touch with their real emotions. Heck, mobile phones have the same negative effects on adult behaviors, but at least adults are done growing!

Louis C.K. says it perfectly in this clip (Thanks, Beeb) from last Friday's  Conan show. Must see.

Folks, we are facing just one more assault on young people's well-being by the reckless pushers of modern technology, bad medicine, and useless education. We've got to put an end to the madness. We've got to find a way to unplug our children from machines, and replug them to life--or they will completely miss out on life!

I find it so dangerous and frightening to see children as young as 10 walking around with cell phones. I find it equally scary to see babies playing with apps on their parent's devices. It's horrifying really. Most of us know that the science regarding the effects of cellphones on human health is inconclusive, at best--yet it skews to the negative.  We still have no proof that cell phones don't cause brain cancer in adults, yet we take even bigger risks with kids. Their delicate skull and brain tissues are still developing and more penetrable by wireless electronic signals.  Incidentally, we keep our kids and ourselves away from the TSA porn machines as well. We know for sure that harm comes from the constant human exposure to radiation, so we try to avoid or minimize our own.

Now that our teens have moved in, we've set the rules for cell phones tight, and they're NOT happy about this at all....yet. But the changes we are seeing are profound. They'll even admit it themselves. They are slowly, but surely, getting used to their new and abbreviated relationship with their phones.

The rules are fairly simple and reasonable.

For the teens:

1. No cell phones at school. They each got an Ipod for the "but I need my music" excuse.
2. Cell phone time is after school until 5pm, then after homework/dinner until bedtime.
3. Friday to Sunday, they have total access, unless there are special circumstances.

For the household:

1. No cell phones are charged or kept in the bedrooms at night.
2. When we all go out together, only one of us takes a phone. We rotate on this.

That's it.

Life is better this way.

As for our youngest son, the 4-year-old, my husband and I have vowed that he will only own a cell phone when he is able to pay for it himself. Even then, he'll have to follow those same simple rules.

Stay tuned...but unplug occasionally!

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