I have a “dumb phone” and will probably always have a dumb phone. I don’t like being thought of as a “dinosaur” but I like talking on the phone less. That is not to say a personal phone isn’t convenient for quick “check-in” calls like “Where will we meet? See you there in 10,” or “Honey, I just locked me keys in the car again. Could you bring me the spare set? I’ll make it up to you tonight!” But I’ve concluded that smart phones are for smart people and teens.
The only problem with mixing smart phones and teens is that they (teens) don’t look up any more. They look down into their laps and you know it’s because they are tuned into a small screen of entertainment or texting. What worries me is that teens might forget how to look you in the eye when they talk to you. There might be a smart phone between you and a teenager some day in a face-to-mediated-face-by-a-smart-phone talk. Can you imagine the awkwardness of their first real job interview? I shudder to think.
When our daughters were in their teens, personal phones were just coming out of the clumsy stone age when the phone looked like the walkie-talkie of a 101st Airborne communications sergeant. Our daughters did not have personal phones. We gave them a quarter instead. Cruel, I know. But we still had a land line at home and the use of it came with some rules and regulations. Rules like no phone calls after 9 pm on week nights or 10 pm on weekends, regulations like conversations lasting no more than twenty minutes because other people in the family might need the phone. If there were an important call to be made by Mom or Dad,they were off the phone immediately; no questions or complaints. It was easy to govern the use of the phone and at the same time teach our daughters phone etiquette.
With the proliferation of iPhones, etiquette is getting harder to define, except when the latest Lady Ga Ga ring tone tune blasts out of the pocket of the teen next to you in the movie theater.
So, for all parents wondering how to mix the newest technology in phones with lessons on responsibility here’s a link you need read. It’s from a mom (Jannell Burley Hoffman) who drafted an agreement with her son on the responsible use of his iPhone given as a Christmas gift. What I like about what this mom did was not just give her son a bunch of rules and regulations, but explained why those rules reflect the character she wants developed in him. She’s a mom with her eye on sending a well-mannered, responsible and intelligent young man into the world.
May her tribe increase!