Friday, February 7, 2014

A Gift

This is one of those posts that makes me a little nervous to hit the publish button; I'm worried about sounding judgmental or preachy.  In reality, I just want to share where we are in this part of our parenthood journey.  There are a million different perspectives and this is ours.


(picture has nothing to do with post but I always like to add a picture)

When we moved Grace to the Waldorf School, I anticipated that it would be a great move for her and it has been almost every step of the way.  What I didn't anticipate was the gift that it would give our family by taking the pressure off of us to purchase Grace a phone.  In our town (perhaps it's this way everywhere?) it is a common practice for incoming 6th graders to get a phone, and smartphones at that, and it's for sure trickling down to younger children too.  However, at Waldorf, none of Grace's classmates have a phone and whereas she has asked when she might be getting one, we don't have the pressure to buy her/supply her with one yet because she doesn't feel that she is missing out nor does she need one!

In fact, the only times a phone has come up are the times after she has spent time with peers that are not
at Waldorf with her.  She has complained that she has nothing to do during these times because "everyone is on their phone".  This concerns me.  How are our children going to learn to negotiate the social minefields of being a teenager/tween if they don't actually communicate with each other live and in person?  And are our children really prepared for social media (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and all the potential baggage it can bring along?

Also, I have moments of worry that by not providing Grace a phone she is missing out on a lot. Certainly, she can't keep in touch as easily with old classmates.  She isn't able to know what everyone is up too (but I tend to believe that this is a good thing - who wants to know what and when we are missing out on something?).  She might not be invited on impromptu meet ups.  Will she be uncool socially because she doesn't have a phone?

I realize that if she were at our public schools I would have the choice to get her a phone or not but, honestly, it would be a very difficult decision to not get her one -  even if I thought it was the right thing to do.   Ultimately, I am so thankful that Waldorf has given us this backup and breathing room to wait just a little bit longer.

I'm not naive, I realize that there will come a time where she will need a phone but I'm so thankful for this extra time where she is given a chance to grow and mature a little before being given this little device that is slowly but surely changing the way our children engage with each other for better or for worse.

I would be really interested and curious to hear where others stand on this issue.  Please share your thoughts!



11 comments:

  1. Terrified for this time in our kids lives. I hope to wait as long as possible. We grew up without it!

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  2. Love this post :) Kids don't have much down time anymore... any spare moment is texting, playing a tablet game, etc. I had decided this morning to have many more days where there is no electronics that numb their brains, and then this post popped up which was great. Thank you! Love that pic, you have a beautiful fam and a beautiful house :)

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  3. Amen. We actually DID get one for Ezra when he was in 3rd grade (gasp!) but not for the same reasons others do. We coparent with my Ex who lives in Denver (5 hours away) and I wanted him to be able to call me anytime at his own will. However, it is not a smart phone, he doesn't carry it with him. He is given it when he goes to his Dads for a visit in Denver and he plugs it in there. Then he returns it to us when he gets home. That is truly the only reason we even considered getting one. I am planning on holding off as long as I possibly can on REALLY getting him one for his personal use. Thank goodness homeschooling has taken off this pressure. (In public there were kids in his 4th grade class that had iphones...geesh). Good for you!!! Grace will be better for not having one in her life. I am terrified about the age that our kids are growing up in.

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  4. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well said! My 12 year old sixth grader is the only one she knows without a phone. It is super hard to stand our ground, but thankfully she respects our decision. The hardest part is to watch her "loose" friends over our decision which really has shown us those aren't the friends she needs. However, it hasn't made it easy to stick to our decision. Luckily, we have had very wise mentors who have raised 3 girls who now have 2 married, but they are part of the first generation to get phones so young. They have shared such stories of being bullied, etc. that our family feels super strong to stay away from the temptation. I totally think there is not enough being said about the negative side of giving kiddos phones too young. We only have the public school option in our area. Our school actually wants kids to have smart phones to do school work on. Teachers send texts for assignments even- it works out fine for them to send them to my phone. Also, I allow my kiddos to use my phone or our home phone whenever they need. I think it is the need to hide messages from parents that becomes an issue. When I pick up in the afternoon 98% of the kiddos have their nose down reading their phones- there is no visiting between friends like the olden days. It is very sad to see my girl standing beside friends, but no one is talking. I also heard a warning that 95% of boys under 14 are looking at you know what- yikes- 95%, there are so so many ways they have figured out how to hide it. yikes again!! So glad you spoke out on this!!

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  5. We also do not get our teens phones - we do have one that is basic, the kids can use it when they need it to contact us (such a field trip etc..), it isn't a smartphone. I also am deeply concerned at the state of things among kids with social media as well as constant tech type play. Bring out the Monopoly!

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  6. Love this and totally agree with you. With my oldest in 1st grade I hope I have several years before I have to really be concerned over it, but I know it will be something. It concerns me greatly what kids have these day.

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  7. Agree with your reasons to hold out! I have a 4th and 3rd grader in public school and there are very few kids that have phones - thankfully. At this point, the only reason I would supply a 'basic' phone to my children would be for my peace of mind. Running the kids between practices and activities that overlap, or end early, or late, can leave me worried about leaving them on their own at this age.

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  8. Well said, and most definitely a treasured gift, especially in this day and age...

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  9. Thank you all for your insightful comments. A few of you said that you have a basic phone to meet your needs at different times. I think this is a big bonus to this age of technology- to have the comfort of being able to get hold of your child and vice versa. We have a friend who has a basic "family phone" that any of her children can use when the need arises. It's a prepaid phone instead of one that has to have a contract and it sure gets the job done. I think it's a great idea!

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  10. My husband and I might be the only adults in the US without smart phones, but it works for us. We save money, and the only thing I could see a smart phone adding to our life is more access to people outside our family. We already spend a lot of time socializing with extended family & friends, and I want to protect our "together/family time" as much as possible. I think it would help lessen the pressure on our kids if we still don't have smart phones by the time our kids are old enough to think they "need" one. Our neighbor kids (middle/high school) have them. I like the idea of using a pre-paid! My parents gave me a pre-paid when I started driving at 16. We are considering home schooling- and one of the many various reasons is avoiding peer pressure on all kinds of issues. I don't feel comfortable with the world's idea of "normal." I don't exactly want them to feel comfortable with the ways of the world. I want them to feel comfortable as themselves, but it's hard to do that when you look around and not many others are like you... It's so complicated to be a mom :). I'm glad you brought up this topic! It's good to know how other parents a bit ahead of us are facing these issues.

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