Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sowing The Cell Call and Reaping The Text Message

You ever hear the saying, “Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind?” Here is an example of how it works: About ten years ago. I would be on my cell phone when I was with my young kids in the car. I eventually realized this was not good and I began to make boundaries when I would and wouldn’t pick up a call. I know that this has been a challenge for many of us fathers who have desired to be more “present” with our children.

Now fast-forward ten years to today. Teens throughout our country and their friends are so connected to each other through their cell phones, they make us 10 years ago seem like old, all-ears Grandpa Walton in his rocking chair whittling a piece of wood with his knife. Our kids connect to each other, not so much through talking, but through texting. Nationally more than 75 billion text messages are sent a month, and the most avid texters are ages 13 to 17 say researchers. Teens with cell phones average 2,272 text messages a month compared to 203 calls, according to the Nielson Company!

Our kids are not able to tune in at home, they are distracted by this “flitting back and forth that leads to a kind of mental brownout” say the experts. When we are sitting down for dinner or when we are spending time together, whether it be driving or just hanging, I am finding myself reminding one of my kids that they need to turn off their &*%# phone! I know I am not the only parent frustrated by this. The danger is not just in the content but also in the overuse of the technology.

In other words, if a person watched four hours of appropriate for family viewing TV it would still be detrimental because he or she is watching too much TV. The excessive use of this cell phone technology is harmful in and of itself. I truly believe that it needs to be limited by us as parents while we still have the power to do so. What does this texting without boundaries do to our kids and our families?

First, it is harmful in our relationship with our children. It hinders their ability to be “present” at home and to truly listen to their parents or siblings. Texting is something that our kids feel that they can do while they are doing something else, like being with the family or doing their homework. In reality, the quality of family time and of homework is reduced while they are constantly being distracted.

Second, this is even potentially harmful spiritually as it emphasizes quick, instant communication. God doesn’t usually relate to us with instant gratification. He wants us to learn to wait upon Him. Texting goes against all of this. It is an instant feedback kind of communication that can become quite addicting.

I am going to use my “father power” and draw some limits on texting at home, not because I don’t love my kids or I am some controlling “Amish meany,” but because I do love them and I will never have these fleeting last days with my teenagers back again. And that isn’t a LOL matter!


Steve Chittenden said...

Hello Jamie,
I enjoy reading your messages. Thanks so much. Steve

Anonymous said...

Hey Jamie,

Texting can be over done and it seems to be an obsession for kids. So we too try to keep it in check. I have found out however, that if I text my kids I get on their wave length and it seems to open up verbal communication. We have dinner together almost every night and much of our family connection comes there. Texting needs to be kept in check, but not ignored. It is a tool of the next generation.

The Elys said...

Bravo! I sure appreciate your thoughts and would encourage other readers to check out a book from the library titled Last Child in the woods with the subtitle... saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Blessings to you and I would love to catch up with you over coffee in the near future. Brian Ely

Jamie said...

I agree with Anonymous. Though there is great danger with texting we can use it in positive ways to speak our kids' language, like telling them we love them, are praying for them or miss them during the day. It is less disruptive than a phone call but gives them the message.--Jamie