How I Escaped SmartPhone Addiction

I bought my first cell phone about 20 years ago. It was handy for letting my husband know where we were when the kids and I were out running around, but since it was a prepaid phone and minutes were expensive, I only used it when necessary and kept it off most of the time.

I was forced to upgrade phones once or twice over the years, but I never got into using the thing regularly, partly because of the cost and partly because I like being out of the reach of others for periods of time. I need that time to think.

Once smartphones took hold, I looked into getting one and rejected the idea pretty quickly. As a writer and therefore a reader, I can’t stop myself from reading; I was addicted to news sites on the Internet before I ever got a cellphone. Having the Internet at hand 24/7 in the form of a smartphone would be going in the wrong direction.

Of course, like the few others who don’t have smartphones, I’ve suffered through having dinner guests who rudely keep checking their phones, nearly been hit by drivers who are checking their phones, and have occasionally been interrupted in worship by the chirping, dinging or singing of some fellow worshipper’s phone. Sigh.

But I never really thought about how fortunate I am to have evaded the call of the smartphone until I read this article. The writer describes his phone addiction and his efforts to break it in detail. (He also makes me glad that I’ve always limited my time on Twitter.) It’s particularly poignant that restricting his smartphone use now lets him spend more focused time with his wife and kids, but they too are addicted to their smartphones, so one has to wonder just how meaningful his newly gained time with them can be.

Someone recently pointed out to me that I miss out on a lot by not being on Fbook. That’s true. I wish that others in my family weren’t so addicted to posting their entire lives online where others can see and I can’t. That said, I think there’s a special place in hell for people like those who created Fbook, who lure people in with a software program that lets them keep in touch with others so they can make a lot of money sharing and selling those people’s personal information to other companies. I don’t want any part of that.

As for smartphones, that article made it pretty unlikely that I’ll ever get one. His experience makes a compelling case for living your life without becoming a slave to perpetual notifications on a gadget.

 

One More Reason to Avoid F-Book

I don’t like Facebook, or F-Book, as I call it. Aside from the many negatives that out-of-control social media use encourages, F-Book in particular is very biased. Case in point: this Christian homeschooling mom posted some Bible verses on her Facebook and found her account suspended.

I realize that F-Book allows you to reach more people than you could otherwise, but I just can’t abide anti-Christian or anti-conservative censorship. In fact, that’s why I left Twitter despite having over 3000 followers.

Has Facebook Stolen Childhood?

 

I used to think that it was up to parents to prevent young kids from using cell phones and older kids from using Facebook, and that by doing so, they’d be able to keep their kids from getting sucked into these time wasters.

Of course, my kids are grown, so what did I know? It wasn’t until I learned that my little nephew was being left out of play dates and birthday parties because he didn’t have a phone to receive group texts on (apparently parents don’t “do” printed or phoned party invitations anymore) that I realized just how pervasive texting has become.

Then there’s Facebook. Supposedly off limits to children under 13, it’s a huge source of bullying among the preteen and young teen set. Some kids have been driven to suicide by online bullying; how tragic!

One might think the key to preventing trouble on Facebook is to limit your kids’ time on the Internet. I was able to do that with my crew, who only had access to a desktop computer in our main living area for years. But today’s kids, who have phones to text with so they won’t be left out of the social scene, can also access the Internet and therefore Facebook on those same phones.

Parents can’t possibly supervise kids on their phones 24/7. I suppose they could make their kids check their phones at the door when they come home, but I’m getting the impression that today it would be considered child abuse to do so. Besides, some moms are too busy on Twitter and Facebook themselves to monitor their children’s phone usage anyways.

Do I sound like a curmudgeon? I feel like one. I’m with the writer who recently said that Facebook has stolen childhood. I’m not sure how parents can recapture childhood for their kids once they’ve given them phones (and unlimited use of them), but it would be worth a try.

I spent much of my childhood playing and reading books. My kids did the same. Will they be the last generation to have done so?

Control Freak Homeschooling Parents?

I recently read a comment on an online article that said something to the effect of “Homeschooling parents are control freaks who want to run their children’s lives.”

It bugged me, yet I realized that there’s some truth to that statement. While no one wants to be called a control freak, and most homeschooling parents’ goal is to raise their children to become independent young adults, the fact is that there are a lot of dangers in this world that we parents want to keep away from our children. Many of them are found in public schools, but there are also everyday dangers that we want to avoid; homeschooling allows us to avoid them.

For example, homeschooled children have more opportunities to get physical exercise than other children. They’re not stuck at a desk for many hours a day. They can run outside and play whenever the weather isn’t bad. They have plenty of free time to use in physical pursuits such as tree-climbing, basketball playing and walking the dog, because they’re not tied to a daily school schedule. So unless their parents make them do online school for eight hours a day, they’re getting more exercise than most children.

This helps them avoid the common danger of childhood obesity, which is worsening. In fact, a recent study found that today’s children actually have less physical strength and carry more fat than the children of the late 1990s. So when homeschooling parents “control their children’s environment,” they’re actually giving their children a healthier lifestyle than they would have if they went to school.

Another danger that many homeschooling parents avoid is allowing their children random and unsupervised Internet access before they’re old enough to handle it. When I was doing research for my new book, I was shocked to learn the extent to which cyberbullying has spread, and how much it has hurt children, to the point that some of them are committing suicide. Then there’s the potential for pedophiles to reach them through online contact—ugh.

Yet today’s schoolchildren often carry Internet access on their bodies in the form of iTouches and Smartphones. At home, they have unfettered access to the Internet. Their parents say they let them conduct their social lives on the Internet because they don’t want them to feel left out. Relatives with young children tell me that party invitations are now distributed online, so if you want your child to be included, you have to let them be on Facebook (which is now actively pursuing children under the age of 13).

This is another danger homeschooling parents can avoid. By not giving our kids unsupervised round-the-clock access to the Internet until they’re old enough to handle it, we can protect them from the dangers that lurk there. Some will call that being a control freak. I call it something else: parenting.

How about you? Do you encourage your children to run and play outside? Do you have full or partial restrictions on their Internet use? Do you mind being called a control freak homeschooling parent? I’d love to get your take on this.