I must admit - I am happy I had my children when I did. Not because they are incredible people (they are), but because I just barely escaped the inundation of technology. Sure, there were toys that lit up and made noise and drove me a bit batty, but the only real issue over screen time involved the television. Computers were a part of my children's childhood, but thankfully they were much too clunky to be carted around in a pocket or bike basket.
My kids sat in the grocery cart and played with my car keys. Who would have thought that one day I'd be grateful that they chewed on those jangling, filthy car keys? That I would remember those days of prying keys out of sweaty, slobber filled hands as a good time? That repeating, "Mommy needs those to drive" was my main battle cry.
Technology is here to stay, but it is changing every day. The new iPhone 6 will probably be an antique by the time this blog is posted. There is news of a device that allows for a real-time 3D virtual window to view your own organs. Which begs the question Do I really want to see my own organs? There are washing machines that email you when a load of whites needs fluffing and folding. There are tabletop tablets said to 'revolutionize family game night.' Apparently family game night was long overdue for a revolution.
With new technology comes new freedoms. And new problems. Michelle Quinn writes for SiliconValley.com and she, like many, is traversing the bumpy road of technology and teens. Or, in her case, almost teens. Her son turns 12 soon and he is receiving an iPhone from his parents.
But even though the smartphone is cord free, there are strings attached to this deal. Quinn is adamant that her child enjoys the basics of childhood, including the opportunity to detach from the world. Her 'contract,' borrowed from Janell Burley Hofmann, an author who created a similar contract for her 13 year-old son, could be a template for many parents and teens and tweens out there. Why? Because she wants her 12 year-old to have an iPhone, but she always wants him to "remember to enjoy life, nature, people, books, music..." Don't we all?
Here it is, sourced from SiliconValley.com:
1. We own the phone. We know the security password or unlock pattern. If you want to download an app, come talk to us.
2. Always respond to texts/calls from us. If a friend calls, answer it. Be polite.
3. The phone lives in the main room. It is turned off during the evenings. It qualifies as "screen time," and its use follows our screen time rules, which is limited use on the weekends.
4. Don't record audio or video of people without their knowledge.
5. We can read your texts and check your photos and videos.
6. Know that sharing photos and videos, as well as anything written, can be saved and shared without your knowledge.
7. If the phone is lost, damaged or destroyed, you will have to go without and save up to repair or replace it.
8. Don't give out any personally identifiable information, such as full name, date of birth, address, or phone number without our permission. Let us know if someone is asking for it.
9. Do not use the technology to deceive or lie to others. It's not a prankster's tool. Do not text or use apps to be a bully. Assume that all parents are checking.
10. Silence the phone at obvious times -- the dinner table, school, movies, restaurants and especially while conversing with others.
The world is moving fast, but failing to protect our children from jumping ahead to adulthood and skipping the joy and heartbreak of growing up could be a mistake - and not one that could be seen through a real-time 3D window.