This morning I received an email from the middle school principal where Number 3 and 4 go to school.
In the email, the principal was asking for parents’ help in a number of areas. One was with fidget spinners. They’ve become quite a distraction at school.
I’ll admit I contributed to this problem. Number 3 and 4 both have (fucking) fidget spinners. I sincerely regret getting them for the kids, especially since they don’t use them for the purpose they were originally intended. They don’t need them. At all.
And if I hate them, I can only imagine how teachers are feeling right now.
So the fidget spinners have been relegated to home. And we have already completely lost one. Thank God.
The next thing the principal was looking for help with was cell phones:
Our goal is to minimize distractions during the day. To do this, we ask students not to be actively on or looking at cell phones during the day unless they are in the cafeteria or a classroom where teachers allow it. We also ask that you refrain from texting your child during the school day.
These have also become a distraction at school.
Okay. I’m just gonna come right out and say two things.
First, middle schoolers should not be allowed to have cell phones in school. There is absolutely no reason for them. None.
They still have those “old fashioned” phones there. You know, the ones with cords attached to them? I can attest that they work. My kids use them to communicate successfully with me all the time.
Second, your middle schooler doesn’t need a phone not just in school.
Your middle schooler doesn’t need a phone at all. Period.
I said it.
Your ten/eleven/twelve/thirteen/ and YES, EVEN fourteen-year-old kid doesn’t need a cell phone.
But I’m divorced and my ex is an asshole and I need to be able to get in touch with my kid.
Perhaps in some cases, this is true. There may be some situations where you must be able to get in touch with your child on a cell phone because your ex prevents any and all communication otherwise.
If that’s the case, then sure. Get your kid a cell phone.
But not a smart phone.
YOUR CHILD DOES NOT NEED A SMARTPHONE.
In fact, nobody NEEDS a smartphone.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stay on top of my kids as it is. Once I put a smartphone in their hands, I’ve got a multitude of new responsibilities.
I’ve now got all sorts of shit I need to monitor in addition to the non-smartphoney stuff.
There’s You Tube. Google. Those are bad enough.
Then there are a billion apps.
There are the ones I know about. Like, say, Snapchat.
Your kids are supposed to be 13 to open up a Snapchat account. But your kids aren’t stupid. They can lie, make up an age, and open an account very easily. They know this.
I know because my kids have done it. On an iPod.
But then there are the apps I’ve never even heard of.
Did you know there’s an app called Private Photos (also called Calculator%)? I just learned about this one today. Here’s the description:
Private Photo (Calculator%) app is private photos and videos hidden behind calculator. Anyone who starts this application looks at a calculator but if you put in passcode it will open up private area. All files are securely stored in the App and remain completely private and confidential.
That’s fucking scary.
I also learned about a new challenge circulating around social media now called the Blue Whale Challenge. This challenge is basically a list of fifty dares encouraging kids to do participate in risky behaviors (like sitting on the edge of a roof) with the final item on the list asking participants to kill themselves.
This is a real thing.
A real fucking scary thing.
If you are putting a smartphone in the hands of your children, then you are opening up Pandora’s Box. And if you aren’t prepared to deal with the shit that’s gonna come flying out of that box, then don’t put your kids in a position to be exposed to it. Because once your kid finds out about it, she’s gonna tell my kid about it.
And I don’t want my kid finding out about stuff he or she has no business knowing about because you don’t want to say no to your kids.
I know it sucks to say no. I know kids are relentless.
Trust me, I know it’s no fun to hear But I’m the ONLY ONE in the WHOLE SCHOOL who doesn’t have a cell phone/Instagram-Facebook-Twitter-Musicly account.
I guarantee you are not the only one whose middle schoolers don’t have cell phones.
I guarantee that because my kids don’t have them. And they won’t have them until they are mature enough and responsible enough to own them.
When will they be mature enough and responsible enough to own them?
When they can pay for them.
If my kids are not responsible enough to earn the money to buy their own phone and pay the monthly bill, then they are not responsible enough to deal with the contents of Pandora’s Box.
We so easily confuse wants and needs with our children.
Your child may want a cell phone.
But your child does not need access to Google twenty-four hours a day.
Your child does not need to be able to text her friends constantly.
Your child does not need Snapchat or Musicly or Instagram.
In fact, your child does not need any apps at all.
What does your child need?
Your child needs human interaction.
Your child needs to learn how to hold a conversation.
Your child needs to learn how to make eye contact.
Your child needs to learn how to communicate with their friends and people in general the old fashioned way.