I have a confession…
I am addicted to my cell phone.
It is with me always, I am constantly checking it, and I panic at the thought of forgetting it at home.
How did this happen?
I did not grow up with a cell phone. The majority of my adolescence was spent without technology. I talked on a landline. In fact, I was thrilled when my parents finally bought a cordless phone. My Internet was dial up. When I did get my first cell phone in college, I had to pay for text messaging!
Yet, despite all this, I am addicted to technology and our children are growing up with even more access. It is always there. Technology sits with us at the dinner table, tearing us away from conversation. Its gentle glow tucks us into bed each night and its bright light awakens us each morning. There is a constant inability to disconnect, which worries me as my girls grow.
In middle school or high school, when I had a bad day, I could leave and go home. I could crawl into bed, turn on my Jewel CD (don’t judge), and wallow in all my teen angst. I was able to escape and step away from the situation. There was time to process feelings and even look at the situation from a different perspective. Most of the time, by the next day, everything seemed to a bit less traumatic.
Today, that is not an option. It follows you. Between group texts and social media, there is no time to decompress. My daughters are always going to be connected. Friends and enemies alike can no longer be at arm’s length. Small problems are magnified and hiding behind a screen makes it so much easier to say horrible things. Now I know I can set limits on screen and device time. I can take away cell phones before bed time, but I cannot erase what people say about my children on the Internet. Despite all my efforts to shield them, they will still find it in the morning when they login.
The question is, how do I protect them?
I cannot, but I can teach my daughters that what they type can hurt others. That if they would not say it out loud, then it has no business being posted. My goal is to teach my daughters to be kind and empathetic in all facets of life. If I am going to teach them how to interact with peers, then I am also going to have to teach them how to be kind in the world of social media. I guess if the world of technology is going to rapidly expand, then my parenting is going to have to as well. It may not be the perfect plan, but I can certainly try.