I'm supposed to write a blog post each day in September because I signed up for NaBloPoMo or "National Blog Posting Month" which, according to BlogHer, is being held this September. Which, if you haven't yet noticed is RIGHT NOW!
Yes, it is September 1, 2013 and tomorrow is Labor day and the day after that we all go back to school. Cue crying.
BUT, we did go camping this weekend. And it was fun - even though the plumbing broke in the camper so we didn't have water, and we forgot things like hot cocoa and butter. But we did get to hang out in the sun and kayak and play games and just hang out in our little camper with no name. Our camper needs a name.
Anyway, while camping, my phone didn't have service. I didn't take my computer on purpose - I didn't figure I'd have time to post pictures and I didn't really care if I checked my Facebook - after all, we were only gone two days! But out of habit, I kept checking my phone, and not surprisingly, each and every time I didn't have service. Duh. However, the kids did have service and spent an inordinate amount of time texting. I wonder what would happen if we REALLY went off the grid. For, like, TWO WHOLE DAYS?? Omg. We might have to.....talk and stuff.
But seriously........unlimited access to the internet and other people is not always a good thing. Tonight on Facebook, one mom posted about her concerns for her son using his smart phone at night and implementing some rules now that school is starting.
I gave her some of our "tips" which included a rule instituted last year that everyone had to "turn in their technology" at 10 p.m. which meant putting phones, computers, iPads, iPods, etc. in the family room on the chargers each night. No more taking the phone to bed, no more excuses that they needed it for their alarm or to listen to music to fall asleep. I made them purchase (if they didn't already have them) their own alarm clocks. And it seemed to work pretty well. Everyone got more sleep and pretty soon they were actually tired before 10 p.m. and would voluntarily turn in their technology and head up to bed. There were some protests at first, but everyone got used to it.
However. If a kid really wants access to the internet, they're going to get it. I didn't monitor them after I went to bed, so who knows if they snuck downstairs to retrieve their phones? Certainly there were consequences for violating the rules - up to and including losing their precious phone, iPad, iPod or whatever. And even if they did slumber through the night without the benefit of a glowing screen, what about the other 16 plus hours a day they DID have access to it?
Of course they couldn't text at school. But they still did sometimes. And after school, the phones were turned back on, and once home, the internet was streaming into our home non-stop until 10 p.m. Sometimes I had to ask them to put the phone on the counter and finish their homework so they would not be distracted by a buzzing text every thirty seconds. You could tell the nature of the text by the way they responded - rapid-fire texting was a sign of an argument with a friend.
And forget about snooping in their phones after they were asleep - they are smart enough to make them password-protected. Sure, if I really wanted or needed access to their phones, I could demand them without warning or insist on knowing their passwords. But I gave them their privacy, trusting them to make good choices and use the internet and texting wisely.
Has it worked flawlessly? Not a chance. We've had serious technology issues. Addiction to social networking sites, online relationships that were kept a secret, cyberbullying, oversharing, accidentally sending the wrong text (I received "my mom is such a bitch" one day from my lovely daughter. I thanked her for sending me a text and she said "what text?" When I showed her, she looked like a deer in the headlights. I let that one go, because.....teenagers). We've spent hours educating our kids in the appropriate use of social networking, texting, email........but they've still made mistakes.
It's definitely not fail-proof or foolproof. From a parent's perspective, you do the best you can, warn your kids about the dangers, and hope they make good choices. But they won't. From a kid's perspective, you relish the freedom of the world at your hands and wonder why your parents don't think it's funny when you make them watch every single Vine you watch. They just don't get it.
I don't want to be the mom who governs her kids' technology with an iron hand. But I worry for their safety. They say "mom, I KNOW" but they don't know. They don't know that we all do stupid things and that one mistake can cost us dearly. Or how easy it is to think the relationships you foster over a keyboard are the same as the ones you nurture face-to-face. Or that you can be anyone you want to be from the other side of the screen. Technology is great, but it has its drawbacks.
And there's no escaping it. Although I didn't have service at the campground, my kids, with their 3G service, did. In fact, at most campgrounds, you can reserve a hook-up spot with WiFi. Soon, there won't BE a place with "bad service" and we'll be connected all the time. But not in a good way. Sometimes you just need to look up and out and across the lake and forget about what everyone else is doing. When I got home, I scrolled through my Facebook feed but realized it would take me forever to catch up over the last two days. And for what? To see what everyone had for dinner or what they did at the Fair? It was nice to be off the grid for a change. If only I could get my kids to do the same.