No Texting in the Shower!
I had to take my daughter’s phone away again last night. She was texting in the shower at bedtime again (I’m seriously rethinking that waterproof phone.) We were waiting to put her little sisters to bed and she’s in there texting. It wasn’t the first time we’ve had this argument.
Like a bad sitcom my teenage daughter and I go round and round about her addiction to her phone. She says that I should let her have it so she can learn to be responsible and control herself. I point out that she can’t so much as shower without it. It all goes downhill from there.
I know more than one person who is so addicted to their phone that they can’t even take a moment to pee without it. That should be an app for that, the “I’m on the toilet right now!” notice that senses when you’re in the bathroom. Except I think a lot of us use that “down time” to check our phones, and really I don’t want to picture that when I get a text from you. Icky.
I got my first smart phone a few months ago. Admittedly I wasn’t very good at using it, I’m a little tech challenged, but everyone has one so I felt like I might be missing out. I fumbled through touch screens that made me miss the buttons on my full keyboard phone. The hoops I had to jump through to unlock it made even the smallest task a big deal. The kids loved it because they know smart phones can download games, but I discovered that having a smart phone wasn’t helping me much. Mostly I started looking at facebook a lot more and scrolling through screens that weren’t doing anything to improve my life but were wasting impressive blocks of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked having streamable music and GPS maps, but I just don’t use that stuff very often. I have an ipod for music, and I know how to find my way around (and I just ask for directions when I don’t.) I don’t feel the need to know the second I get an email or text, and I don’t need to check the latest headlines before the news comes on. If it’s important I expect someone will call me, but ironically making calls was the one feature of my smart phone that was pretty much unusable. The person on the other end sounded metallic and echoed like they were in a tin can until the call inevitably dropped.
Watching others poke at their tiny screens I realized that a smart phone seemed like more of a cumbersome distraction than a useful tool. BING! There’s a new email. TWEET! There’s a new text. Even if you don’t open it you know it’s there, hanging over your head. And no, I couldn’t turn that off.
Having a phone has gone from a way to connect with people to a distraction from what’s in front of you, and not just for the owner. Who hasn’t been in a conversation with someone who glances at their phone every few minutes, or worse doesn’t make eye contact at all because they’re looking at a screen? This is not ok. At the risk of sounding like your mother I’m going to tell you: it’s rude and disrespectful. I don’t care if you were listening the whole time, if you weren’t looking at me I’m feeling neglected.
And of course I worry about the effect all this has on my kids. My daughter is 17 and hardly ever hangs out with her friends after school, which I did every day at her age. Instead she texts them or snapchats or has a conversation via facebook. She assures me that all the kids do this; that no one goes out and physically does stuff together, that it’s just not necessary. When she is around people she’s fine so it’s not like she’s some freakish wallflower, but I worry anyway.
My little girls are obsessed with games and You Tube, and they have ipads in the first grade. The environment they’re growing up in is so different from the one I had when I was a kid. I wonder if my parents felt that way too and this is all normal parenting stuff.
Having a smart phone seemed unnecessary and expensive to me so after about a month I reactivated my 6-year-old “dumb” phone. There are no games, but I can pull up a contact before my husband can even finish unlocking his iphone (he has to have it for work so he can be at their beck and call.)
I admit I’m hoping that when we move to Cozumel there will be a cultural shift away from screen time. I want my kids to grow up playing outside with their friends, not typing messages to them from next door. I know there are phones and facebook in Mexico, and I’m planning to use them myself to keep in touch but I’m hoping that it will be different. I hope we all learn to be present in the moment again and let the people in front of us be the focus. In our uber-connected culture it seems like a lot to ask for sometimes.
How connected are you? Do you check texts and emails as soon as they come in or let them wait? Do you still call people to chat? Are you reading this on your phone in the bathroom right now?