Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Party Rule - Collect All Phones

For various reasons, I've stayed in a hotel for three weekends in the past month.  And each weekend, there have been teen-oriented celebrations - proms, pre-prom parties, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, sweet 16s. I've been amazed at the amount of parties a kid has and the amount of money spent on them!   Seeing these kids come and go into their parties, I noticed a trend and realized there needs to be a new party rule: "Enter and drop your phone in the basket, collect it on your way home."

If you've read my previous posts, you know I've been dragged into this trend that kids "need" a phone.  Although I've given in to them having a phone, I don't approve of my kids playing on their phones at the dinner table, prefer for them to interact with the people in front of them, and do try to teach them when it's appropriate to ignore the world around them and play video games (not in church.)  Now that it seems inevitable that children will soon be issued their phone number along with their social security number, we should at least teach them how to still be social - with real people, not just with social media.

The teen parties at the hotel were filled with DJs, live bands, food stations, beverage bars, cocktail bars (presumably for the parents), games - everything you could pack into a ballroom celebration.  But yet, over on the steps, scattered across the floor away from the party room, were teens and pre-teens, by themselves or maybe in pairs, tapping on their phones and charging their gadgets.  They were missing all the real-life fun for what? Texting "hi, what r u doing?" to another friend, ignoring another real-life event? Some were taking selfies. Standing in an empty hotel hallway. Couldn't you go into the party just for a more interesting background, at least?

It's not just the parties. Last week, we were at the beach.  Next to us, a line of teens sat with their backs to the water, all tapping on their phones. Every now and then, one of them would look up, glance around, and then go back to tapping. Oh, and of course, take a selfie, with the water in the background.

For the sake of being active on social media, our kids are losing the ability to actually be social.

Flip through education articles and you'll see there's plenty of discussions about how to teach kids to play, be nice to each other, negotiate with each other - part of what's referred to as social and emotional learning. It's the stuff you learn naturally when you actually interact with people rather than typing them a message or sending them a picture of yourself. Now we need adult-led lessons to learn what used to be developed on the kickball field.  Surely, I'm not the only one bothered by this regression in development.

But since the phones don't seem to be going away, I'm off to find a pretty basket to collect phones when my kids' friends come over. You know, so that they can actually talk to each other or some old-fashioned thing like that.

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Robyn Bourne said...

Love this! One suggestion: offer the basket at adult parties as well!

Mommyx4 said...

Yes, adults can be just as bad (worse!) with their phones.