For many of us, the school year is winding down or came to an end right before Memorial Day weekend. Today is my kids’ first official day of summer break, and after reading the testimony of 2nd grade teacher Jen Beason, I’m more determined than ever to be present for them this year. Last week, as a writing prompt, Beason asked her 2nd graders to put their feelings to paper about something they wish had never been invented. Some of results were both saddening and eye-opening: according to her now-viral Facebook post, four of Beason’s students wrote that they wish their parents’ phones had never been invented.
Beason’s Facebook account has now understandably been set to private, but hundreds of thousands saw and shared her post, and USA Today posted this screen shot with a child’s heartbreaking words:
The child’s words read:
“If I had to tell you what inventionI don’t like I would say that I don’t like the phone. I don’t like the phone because my parent [sic] are on their phone every day. A phone is sometimes a really bad habet [sic]. I hate my mom’s phone and I wish she never had one. That is a [sic] invention that I don’t like.”
Umm…since we’re talking about phones…HELLO? Is that a wake-up call or WHAT??
The 260,000 people who shared the post on Facebook certainly thought so! Many fellow teachers commented on the post, echoing similar sentiments from their students:
“We had a class discussion about Facebook and every single one of the students said their parents spend more time on FB then they do talking to their child. It was very eye opening for me,” said teacher Abbey Fauntleroy.
Parents, in our world, the smartphone is a necessary evil for adults, that is for sure. Most of us legitimately need one. BUT, we don’t need to be ON IT, being entertained, ALL THE TIME, when we should be spending time with our kids!
For me, this is a MAJOR temptation, especially since much of my WORK can be done on my phone (managing Facebook pages, responding to messages, etc.). The struggle is REAL, and I have had to set some parameters in place to help me check myself. Here are some ways I try to stay present even when my phone is near.
1) Plug my phone in at an outlet in another room at dinner time or put it face down on the table if I have a reason for needing it nearby. This ensures I am engaging with the family at dinner.
2) Leave the phone on the dining room table when I’m playing a game with my kids in the other room or when I’m helping with homework.
3) Leave my phone in my purse when we’re on an outing instead of keeping it in my hand or pocket.
These may seem overly-simple, but they have helped me to avoid the temptation as much as I can when I don’t have a LEGITIMATE need to be on my phone. And because I know I make an effort, to give myself grace when I DO legitimately need to be on it.
I often think about how my kids are growing up in a more complicated, difficult world than I did as a kid, and I think the inventions of the smartphone and social media and it’s trappings are huge reasons why. In articles I write here, I often focus on our needs to keep smartphones and social media away from our kids. That is still very important, but it’s equally important to not let smartphones and social media keep US away from our kids.
This is a very long, winding, two-way street, parents, and we need to drive it with EXTREME thought and caution.