I gave my 4-year old a cellphone

 

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Yes, I the mother who tries to be so conscious of her actions, has indirectly given my son the perfect reason and ways to carry a cellphone.  As you can see in the picture, I’ve also made it clearly evident as to what color phone and accessories he should carry with it (keys!).  Can you decipher the even bigger meaning behind this picture? I surely can…

I value my cellphone way too much.

What you see is what I’ve duplicated in my oldest son through my actions.  As I carry my set of keys and phone, he has used his imagination to create and do the same .  Great… (and yes, that is simply a red rectangular puzzle piece)

I have been inwardly and sometimes verbally frustrated with my ever so nice phone for a few months now, but when I saw my son grab these on our way out, I knew something (or someone…) had to change.  It was then that I overwhelmingly began to hate my actions with a passion… and my cellphone lol.

You have to understand- I’m one of those people who have NEVER been a phone person- text or voice- somewhat because of how I’ve been raised.  However, I’ve now become the mom who “must” carry her phone everywhere. What’s happened to us?!?!

When I was younger, I started working at age 12 or 13 after school, five days a week. On top of that, I was heavily involved in my school clubs, two years of basketball then church groups; that meant some weeknights and most Saturdays were full of rehearsals, practice, meetings and trips (plug-in: thanks Mom and Dad again for all of the drop offs and pick ups; I’ll probably say that repeatedly when I’m doing the same thing). Amazingly, I did all of this without a cellphone. How? With the ever so reliable house phone!!! I also think about how heavily involved my mom was with dance and prayer meetings.  Geesh! We were a family on the go!

My dad was the only person who owned a cellphone until I left for college. That’s right- I didn’t get a cellphone until my freshman year in college when I had to pay for it… that was the deal: I get a cellphone when I get income. I’m grateful to say my parents have NEVER paid for any of my phones or my cellphone bills. If I paid it, it was on. If I didn’t, it was off. So, if you know me, you’ll understand my frustration with kids without jobs who have cellphones and parents who pay for them no matter what happens to them.

Now that I’m a parent, I notice parents’ actions, including my own, as related to technology and the ever increasing use of cellphones. What I’ve noticed is frightening: we pay more attention to our cellphones than we do our kids, other kids, their parents and so many opportunities to get to know people. Used unwisely, we have allowed “urgent” calls and texts to become more important than exemplifying healthy social skills to our children. If we aren’t texting, we’re checking emails, Facebook, twitter, blog responses, the news… It goes on and on. Even when our phones are quiet, who has tapped their screen “just to make sure” they didn’t miss any notifications? ME!!!

A month or so ago, my family had dinner with another family from our sister church. I enjoyed it so much- kids playing together and parents encouraging each other in the Word of God. Somehow, the topic of cellphones and technology came up. To my surprise, this young couple has survived in society today with one cellphone for the past year and a half! You might think, “that’s not so hard; sounds manageable.” Let me explain…

The husband owns his own business and is a part-time missionary. His wife is a stay-at-home mom of 4 kids, ages 1-11, one of which has to be driven to school 30-45 minutes away, five days a week.  Add to that the fact they live in the middle of NOWHERE, or the country as we commonly call it, so all after-school and weekend activities, grocery shopping and social engagements cost some time to get to.  As I sat there and listened to her share her stories about only having a house phone, one thing I noticed was so clear:

There was not one sound of resentment or stories of missed opportunities.  She had learned to be content with what she had and manage without her (or others) immediate needs being at the tips of her fingers.  The result?  She was able to engage and minister more to her neighborhood kids that came into their home, she established more solid, personal relationships with people through social interactions and was able to grow in her relationship in trusting God and humility as emergencies came up where she didn’t have a cellphone but had to reach out and ask others to use theirs.  And all of this is evident fruit in her children- they have duplicated what they see… and NONE have cellphones or mentioned wanting one.

Are cellphones evil? Absolutely not, they have assisted many people in many positive ways.  However, just like every other thing- TV, Internet, food, clothes, money- they have to be used wisely as individuals, especially parents.  How we handle them and all of these things is how our children will learn how to handle them.  If they take precedence over our devotion time, time we get to know others and introduce them to Christ or just share His love, fellowship with other believers, time we spend growing our marriage and raising our children… there will be no eternal fruit that is produced from them… only control by them.

I Corinthians 6:12 (KJV) “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

Do I want to get rid of or even downsize my cellphone and get a house phone? YOU BET!!!  Is that practical for me where I currently am? Not really.  However, there are some other practical things I/WE can do in the mean time as parents and individuals:

  • leave your cellphone behind when outdoors or playing with others
  • have “No Cellphone/Technology” days
  • set a curfew for cellphone usage
  • teach and show your kids what the primary purpose of a cellphones is
  • remove unnecessary/distracting apps that can be managed from a house or laptop computer
  • carry your own camera!
  • remove all games… are they REALLY necessary??
  • keep your cellphone in one central place and don’t move it.

Having tried these, you’ll find they are absolutely GREAT!  Challenging at times, but beneficial to you, your family, friends and those who are waiting to greet your eyes once they rise from your screen (say “HI!’).  Above all else, understand your cellphone is a blessing, not a “must have”, that should be used for God’s glory while not forsaking the best cellphone He gave us- our own mouth and hands.

 

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