I ran across this little gem today on Facebook. It tells the story of 13 year old girl and her phone. It is, in one word, heartbreaking. This girl is living the life I fear for Isa. Not that she is a bad kid. She is academic and involved in sports. She has a loving family and has all of her life necessities readily available. It's just that dang phone. There is too much at her fingertips and the fingertips of people who's brains aren't developed enough to handle or be responsible with it. Oh, that damage they do.
Isa went through a time where she was actively trying to convince us to get her a phone. I read the news, yeah no. We got her an iPad mini. Everything she does on it backs up to my iPad (including messages). She can't download anything without my password. She can also only use it while on wifi so it limits her time. Does that make me too controlling? Maybe in 4 years it will but now, not so much. I watch Law and Order SVU people! Kids aren't capable of understanding the ramifications of their actions. Being a teenager is hard enough without worrying if your selfie is good enough and if you are getting enough likes. (You know what I love? Blogger just underlined the word 'selfie'. It doesn't recognize it as a real word. Yay blogger!).
When I was Isa's age I spent quite a bit of time in a large holly tree in our backyard. I would pretend I lived there and would climb to the top to see all the undiscovered wilderness I imagined was around me. When the neighbor kids were home we would play, softball, soccer, steal the flag or build a hotel in the woods behind their house. We were outside using our imaginations. It was liberating. I felt independent.
Even with just an iPad, Isa can be like a zombie. Always looking at something. I talk to her and 5 minutes later she looks up realizing she never responded. She has to check her score on a game or see if so and so messaged her back yet. It makes me sad. Sometimes I get excited when she misbehaves and I have an excuse to take it away. After a while she isn't mad about it and actually spends time with me. We have real talks, or make something together. I miss her.
It's hard at school though. Everyone has a phone and I guarantee if they knew I could read the messages they probably wouldn't txt her anymore. I wonder how many of their parents if any check their phones? This is the time your kids are changing the most. They are figuring out who they are and if you don't help them someone else will. Do I really want someone on her electronic device teaching her what she's worth? Highly unlikely. Their brains are growing and learning so fast. Help them fill it with imagination and goodness! There is so much time for all that grown up stuff (which is totally overrated). childhood is so, so short. Make them play outside, run in the sprinkler, ride their bikes, climb trees, dig in the dirt! Hold on to it, they can't go back.