Everyone’s entitled to set the rules for their own house. I’ve visited houses where I have to remove my shoes, had dinners where I have to thank the Lord for what I’m about to receive, where the food is kosher or halal, or the TV is never turned off. Your house, your rules.
And as of today, the rule for my house is: No mobile phone for guests. It’s simple. People who visit my house (and let’s face it, not only children) can’t regulate themselves, so I am going to regulate phone use for them.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my mobile phone. I’m a regular user of Facebook and Instagram and enjoy keeping up with friends and family and seeing what they’re up to. I like posting updates and fun snapshots of what my children (or, if I’m honest, my cats) are doing. Like many others, I use my phone as a crutch to entertain me when I’m bored or pissed off (Facebook rant, anybody?).
What I don’t do, however, is use my phone when I’m out with friends. I don’t want to and I don’t want them to either. Frankly, it makes me sad to see how phone use is increasingly sabotaging everyday social interactions. I’ve been to dinners in fancy restaurants where couples barely talk, each immersed in the mobile phone. And now it’s happening in my own house.
I’ve become almost inured to my friends who drop in with their kids giving them a phone or an iPad as a keep-them-quiet device. I understand the motivation of course (it shuts them up) but I think it’s a pity, as my own kids are sociable enough to mix and play with children they don’t know. I don’t expect a bunch of kids to go off on Tom Sawyer-like adventures together. But plonking them in front of a device means they don’t even have to raise their heads and speak.
But of course, it’s not only children they don’t know who come with the zombie technology, but also children they do. My son’s friends regularly arrive equipped with all kinds of i-thingies, which means they sit staring mutely at a screen. Parents often expect the host mother to ‘limit’ screen time, but try telling someone else’s ten-year-old boy that he can’t play on his iPad/iPod/iPhone any more and how about a board game instead. Unless you physically wrench it out of his possession and lock it in a cupboard, he will sulkily creep back to it the moment he can.
How to get your teens off their phones at night. Post continues...