The Day My Teenager Needed A Cell Phone

This morning, my 14 year old put a handwritten note on my shoulder as he silently walked out the door. The title of his nine-point note was, “Reasons I Should Get a Phone.” Since he only had one spelling error which was a grammatical error more than anything else, I figured I should read it at least one more time.

His most convincing point also happened to be the most horrifying point, in my opinion. I say this as a mother of five growing kids living on a tight income.

His teachers are asking students to program reminders into their phones, download apps, and use their phones to research, record and email assignments to them. What? Why?!

Last year, he recorded a few band assignments and emailed them to his band teacher. He spent more time recording one simple song than he spent practicing all year. It got kinda ugly. He got mad. He even shed a few angry tears. It wasn’t the iPod’s fault. I’m sure it was his instruments fault. Or maybe his lack of practice, but that’s just an unsolicited opinion from a Mom who knows nothing about school life these days.

This year, my son was supposed to record a spoken poem for French, but since the recording quality on his old iPod is apparently That Bad, he opted to schedule a lunch appointment with the French teacher to say his poem live. And because he didn’t have a reminder scheduled on the phone he didn’t have, he forgot. Oh, the inhumanity! You know who’s fault this is, right? Yup, Mom’s fault.

Both of my teenagers also tell me that they are allowed to play games on their phones after their work is done. AND they can play MUSIC on their phones while they work! While they work at school!

Goshdarnit, can I just complain about my prehistoric childhood for a moment?! Back in the day when we weren’t allowed walk-mans or boomboxes in class. We read books — on paper — when we were done our work. We knew how to use a rotary phone that was cemented to the wall by the school office. I even grew up on a party line. Cell phones were just big, honking car phones back then. There was no way you could slip one of those puppies in your pocket.

And research was done in the library. Remember the card catalog? I wonder how many kids today could use a card catalog and then find the recommended book using the Dewey Decimal System. Ah, the DDS. We spent class time learning all about the DDS.

I just…can’t. I don’t get it. Our world has become so dependent on technology. And there’s fewer and fewer ways we can avoid it.

One of my problems with technology is that it feeds our desire to be lazy. Look it up on Google versus finding library books. Seconds on Google versus minutes in the Library.

Using an app instead of having a oh-so-bulky French dictionary.

Programming in reminders instead of writing them down in an agenda…and then actually looking at that agenda regularly. How has time for that?!

Walking downstairs to the phone that’s stuck on the wall instead of pulling a phone out of your pocket and hitting three buttons to make one call. Oh wait, since texting is the preferred method of communication, the amount of work might actually even out but it does remove the vulnerability of speaking to another human being on the other line. God forbid your mother might hear your voice…or what’s going on in the background.

Life has become so hard for teenagers, hasn’t it?

I guess I should be thankful that at least my kids in high school aren’t expected to supply their own laptops. Not yet, anyway.

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