Getting a cell phone for our kids was a gift we were excited to give them….unlimited access to talk with them while they weren’t home, the ability to track them and see where they were should they not answer, or be able to answer. (I typically believe that after their phone goes to voicemail, they’ve been kidnapped…and without a locator app, how else can I alert my neighborhood moms crime watch group to their location?!) I have no doubt my girlfriend D, would dress all in black, fill up her water bottle with wine, and kick down any door that held our babies behind it. Ninja moms aside, I believed we would get our kids a phone with a great quality camera so they could take amazing pictures of their surroundings; the things they were doing while not home…you know, capture those memories and then share them with me. We’d communicate back and forth with hilarious GIFs and have playful banter. In my head, our interactions could be made into a movie. Maybe even Hallmark worthy.
Well….that was summer of 2018. This is today.
Any hopes and dreams I had for that movie life, were promptly crushed early on when we let our oldest have SnapChat when he was in 6th grade. Mistake #1. Not only does he not share pictures, he literally will snap a picture of the floor and type something like “streaks” to his friends and send! That’s it?! Where are the snow capped trees when you go sledding? Where’s the one of you hanging with your boys at the basketball game? Where are the freaking memories?! Thankfully we didn’t make that mistake with Children 2-4. No snap chat for them. So we tried Instagram. I thought, how bad could it be? It’s just taking pictures. But then I realized (afterwards) that there is direct messaging and stories..things that don’t last. No memories for me to look back on. It’s basically the poor mans version of snap chat. For the Love…..
My kids are on their devices as much as they humanly can be. We have Disney’s Circle app on their phones that limits their time and can track their activity but still….it’s a constant battle for “more time” or whining to me that Circle is ruining their lives. Puh-lease. These kids have no clue. They would never survive in the 80’s. Instead, they are watching videos of people playing fortnite, or families making smoothies…tonight, they had their phones out during the game watching the live feed of a goat about to have a baby. (That was the coolest of all 3 things I mentioned). But it’s madness. However, my husband and I had a long talk today. Vlogging is the new cool thing to do. He wants me to give it a try. I told him I just don’t have a lot to say. He was quiet because he knows I could talk for hours on end. And sometimes do. To my cat. He said to video myself decorating cupcakes or our Christmas tree…people would watch?! Child 3 jumped right in, like ” OMG mom, that would be so cool!” Really? She doesn’t even want to stand next to me and help but she will watch it via her phone? Absurd. But whatever, I’m a hip, try new things kinda lady, so I’ll give it a go… soon. I have to get over the weirdness. Oh, and figure out how to setup a YouTube account. Maybe I’ll wait until next weekend when the kids have some free time and can help me. So much for being hip…Aaah, 2019. You are so weird.
Back to my kids phones. GIFs. Thank goodness for girlfriends because we can have full convos just with GIFs and I’ll be crying laughing. (Oceans 11 girls, this is a shoutout to you). But engaging with my kids?! Eh…the twins are really good at responding, but haven’t caught on to how to carry on the convo via gif. I’ll send something funny. They’ll send me a response of a cat laughing. The End. Child 2 mainly writes LOL and Child 1 just replies “STOP”. Our typical convo:
I’m still trying to have a gif convo with A. He won’t bite. He also hates when I use Hashtags, so now I basically write my entire side of the convo in hashtag form. Paybacks for crushing my hallmark dreams.
The only thing that HAS proven to be effective is the consequence of getting their phone put in lockup if they get a bad grade or they get in trouble. First rule in the house is that if you disrespect the rules, a person, or don’t do your work at school, your phone is going to be locked up. In the typical tween/teen lifestyle, this is the most horrible form of torture EVER. They can see it buzzing, they can see it light up, but they can’t touch it.
I wish I wouldn’t look around at my family room each evening and see EVERY single one of us on a device. They only are allotted 3 hours during the weekday, and the younger kids have 45 minute bus ride to and from school each day so most gets used up then, but they typically finish their homework, eat and get home from sports and wind down with their phone. I wish it was snuggling with me instead. HA. They hate that I like and ask to snuggle. Even my cat hates it. I need a stuffed animal.
Anyhoo, we need to unplug. So much so that I booked a (non working) FARM for us to stay at in Lancaster. Phones are not coming with us. We need to get out of our house and break our daily routine of any and all downtime being filled with our face in the phone/ipad screen. Here I hopefully will be able to make some 1980’s style memories with these kids and remind them that fun is created with family and friends. A phone is just that. A device. It won’t make you happy. People and experiences will.
I will be sure to share our forced family fun. It’s going to be great. Hallmark movie like….