teens-staring-phones

Our dear friends have a son who was a handful. He experimented with drugs and alcohol. Upon graduating from high school he gladly announced that he heard if you sign up for YWAM, you can train in Maui. So he signed up.  YWAM, by the way, stands for Youth With A Mission. Once you are done with the six-week training, you are sent to the mission field for 4-5 months. So he happily headed for Maui to work on his tan. Six weeks later, he was in Bangladesh. This was a far cry from surfing and the comforts of home. He learned to deal with the discontent and less-than-perfect situations. He met kids his own age he deeply admires. When he returned home, he got together with his old friends.

He told his mom about his time with his old friends. “I looked around the room, and there were all my friends … texting other people. I thought, ‘So this is what it looks like.'”

She asked, “What what looks like?”

Discontent,” he replied. “There we were, having our own get together, and everyone was looking for a better place to be, a different party.”

We have taken his observations to heart. Tim and I have made what some of our friends call a radical decision; we have decided that our children cannot have or buy their own phone until they are 18. Even then, they will pay for their own services. Every time one of their friends gets a phone, they announce it at the dinner table, as if this will sway our decision. We just tell them our plan is working; if all of their friends have phones, then they’ll never need one. And we will have plenty of dollar bills to cover the cost. This drives them mad. They act put out about it but in a fun way, as if they are happy we care.

Another teenager tries to make a plea for a phone on my children’s behalf: “Well, Miss Heather, suppose a group of us all gets kidnapped. The kidnappers separate us all, and then your kids are left without a phone. Then won’t you feel bad? What are they going to do?”

I said, “Well let me ask you this. In that same scenario, your phone dies. What will you do?”

{Editor’s Note: This post was first published on MomLife Today on August 24, 2010 — interesting that the Hawkins family had this figured out years ago, since current reports repeatedly suggest our kids are becoming overwhelmed and struggling due to phone/technology use.}

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10 Comments

  1. I am SO irritated when somebody starts texting in front of me – it's like they're having a secret conversation that I'm not invited to be a part of. I do text occasionally, but I try VERY hard to never text or answer my phone (unless it's an emergency) when I'm with somebody else.

    My kids won't have cell phones til they can pay for them – and then there will probably be quite a few restrictions.

  2. Great post Heather! My 17 year old has a cell phone, but we too are awful parents because it is quite old and we disconnected the photo feature and she has various restrictions! Parents must still make the rules…I think sometimes we avoid making rules on things we didn't have as kids because we don't know what the rules should be! Keep making great suggestions for those parents out there searching for what the rules should be!

  3. Incredible post, Heather. I've no doubt that your decision will cause many other parents & students to think. They may not give up their phones, but maybe they'll put 'em away and be fully engaged with others.

  4. Julia DesCarpentrie says:

    My ten yr. old has been begging for a phone since other friends and cousins have phones. Glad to know I'm not the only mean mom!

  5. Hi Heather, One of my favorite things about being out of the country this year was not having a phone. Tell your kids they're not missing out but they're being spared distraction. I love you and your family.

    Work what your momma gave you,

    Addison

  6. AllieZirkle says:

    This hits home! What a great article!

  7. Love your article on texting! Another great read that takes this issue a step or two further is, "The Dangerous Allure of Artificial Realities" by Chuck Black (Lifeway's "Homelife" magazine, April 2011. Check it out.

  8. Bravo Heather… My oldest was 15 when we got our first computer in 1995… Not much was happening back then, nothing social either, no Google, no fb, no Snapchat, no flicker… Our rule then and with each following child, only educational games… And when the phone came out, you know the kind that had the antenna you pulled out, not very many kids had a phone then. By then, my older children were grown and if they wanted a phone, yep they had to buy their own and pay for it. No regrets … My youngest is soon to be 20 and she bought her own phone… It’s a cheapy.. She does not do fb as I’ve cautioned her against it and she’s heeded my advice. It can be done moms! You have to be tougher than they and have their hearts! I love this story Heather.