Phones at school
Last week we got into a big “discussion” with the boys about taking their phones to school (or not).
Ever since they got cell phones around Christmastime, we have not allowed their phones to go to school with them. What for?! They are at school.
Well, during play rehearsals a couple weeks ago, there were a few days where I asked Ethan to take his phone to school, so he could call me after when he needed to be picked up.
Unfortunately, this sort of “scratched the itch”, if you will….and he realized, hey, I like taking my phone to school!! (Of course.) Asher jumped on board with the idea, too, claiming that “everyone brings their phones to school now.” This suddenly became VERY IMPORTANT to them, which kind of confused me…because, again, they’ve had phones for months and never have been allowed to take them to school. And they’d never complained.
(At their school, the teachers confiscate all phones at the beginning of the day, and they are stored in labeled pouches inside a locked closet in the classroom. So the kids don’t actually have access to their phones during school hours- this is actually all about “the bus ride”, or before/after school time.)
My immediate, gut-reaction answer was: NO, of course you are not taking your phone to school. Why on earth would that be necessary??
Their answers, as stated above, involved things like: “Everyone has their phone on the bus.” “It’s boring to just sit there.” (THEY ARE THE LAST STOP IN THE MORNING, and the FIRST STOP IN THE AFTERNOON. They are literally on the bus for like, 5 minutes. Sorry, I don’t have a ton of sympathy re: enduring 5 minutes of boredom. I used to be on the bus for like, 40 minutes when I was in school!)
I asked why they can’t just, you know, talk to their friends on the bus.
Apparently, “everyone” just “plays on their phone” on the bus, so if they don’t also have a phone, there’s nothing to do. Ummm……. seriously?!!? Every kid just sits and looks at a phone? That seems very….sad.
They then continued that they really like those 5-10 minute to sort of veg out on the bus, check in on their games (I guess a lot of games have little daily challenges, etc. that they like to do quickly each day), and they don’t see the problem, since the phone then goes in the closet for the rest of the day. They work hard at school, with no phones, they stay very busy with extracurriculars after school and their grades are great. (*These arguments were a bit more compelling- I can see some of their points here…and honestly, I like to check my phone in the morning and on breaks, too….😬).
Anyway, I told them we needed to think about it and talk more about it.
On the one hand, I don’t like to just say “no” basically for the sake of saying no. It is only a few minutes we’re talking about. On the other hand, I struggle with the idea of phones taking over teens’ lives. It really seems the kids could just sit and talk on the bus without needing to be on their phones! Is this what the world is coming to?? Constantly plugged in, from middle school (or before) on?? Sigh.
Ivan pointed out that it is quite the pickle, though. Because, even if we don’t let the boys take their phones to school, we can’t control what other families are doing. If all the other kids actually DO have their phones along and are playing on them, it’s true- my boys would then just be….sitting there. Which kind of defeats the whole point. It’s not like the other boys will put their games away just because Ethan and Asher don’t have theirs along.
(Example- Ivan drove the soccer carpool (of 14 year old boys) last week, right here in town (i.e. short drive). He said that literally the minute the boys got in the car, the other boys were both immediately looking at their phones. One of the boys even popped his Air Pods in and was watching a video!!! (Ethan didn’t have his phone along, so he just talked with Ivan.) Sigh again. Apparently, this is a pretty universal issue. I mean, the boys do hang out and talk, too, at practice/ before/ after- it’s not like they never interact! But this “constantly on the phone in the carpool” thing seems relatively new. I see it in the swim carpool, too.)
I’m not really sure what exactly to do. As I’ve thought more about it, I’m not sure that it’s really my “parenting hill to die on”, either, though. I am not sure those 5-10 minutes before and after school are truly a HUGE problem worth going to battle over, exactly. Of course, I don’t want to just cave to peer pressure, either, but we might be better off looking at the big picture on this one. Focusing on overall screen time/ balanced, appropriate use, etc. The truth is- all teens use phones nowadays! It’s just reality of the times, and probably developmentally normal for them to desire this (in moderation).
The peer issue is a very complex one, too, especially at this age. I read an article recently about teens and screens, and there was a long comment written by a teenage girl. Her mom had very strict phone use rules, including a rule that she couldn’t use her phone past 8 pm, ever. Well, apparently all of this girl’s best friends would usually do a big Facetime group call many evenings, just chatting and all hanging out while they like did their nails or whatever. It was a very important, fun social time, with all of her best friends, and she could NOT attend (even on Fridays!), because of her mom’s (kind of arbitrary sounding?) strict rule. In the comments, this girl was SO distraught and miserable over this “rule” that my heart literally broke for her!! She said, “This is ruining my life!!! I am missing out on so much that all my other friends are getting to do.” And I don’t doubt that it truly feels that way for her. In that case, it really seemed like some negotiation and understanding was maybe in order on the mom’s part.
Obviously, our issue isn’t that extreme, but still. I do want to be mindful and respectful of the kids’ viewpoints on all of this, too. Which involves really listening to them- sometimes they actually have really great, well-thought-out reasons for why they want something (and other times, not so much 😆). But I’d rather be reasonable, when I can and when it makes sense (while still upholding our family values), versus running a household dictatorship of “because I said so” rules.
Oh, parenting in the digital age. Good times.
A few Mother’s Day pics!!
I had a great weekend, full of volleyball games, soccer tournaments, visiting with my own mother, and multiple pizzas. 😬(Full disclosure- the macro tracking was, uh, weak this weekend….what can I say. Back on the horse this week….:) )
I am grateful for working in the sunroom yesterday….we’re having a sudden heat wave!! Worked with the screen door open and it was so nice.