Monthly Archives: September 2014

Negotiating iThis, xThat and Every Screen In Between

A Facebook friend alerted me to an article on the Washington Post that has resonated with me in every fiber of my being. “Parenting as a Gen Xer: We’re the first generation of parents in the age of iEverything.”

I was born on the cusp of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. I remember the days in college of wrapping rubber bands around the punch cards you inserted into the computer. Then, just a few years later, I ¬†purchased ¬†my first “home” computer shortly after graduation.

I have three children. A 21 year old daughter and 10 and 11 year old sons. And that 10 year difference might as well be 3 generations of technology users. When we finally let our daughter have a cell phone, that’s all it was. A cellphone. You called people with it.

Now? It’s a phone, a mailbox, an urban dictionary, an internet surfer, a radio, a photo album, a camera, a video recorder. It connects you to your parents, your siblings, your family, your friends, your friend’s friends, and every other sick-o stranger on the planet.

How do you teach “Stranger Danger” and stay current with all the tricks that twist and turn by the minute?

screen time

One answer: You can’t.

My sons, especially Mr. 11-year-old, have been begging for a phone. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not necessary. I drive them everywhere they need to be. We still have an old-fashioned land line phone at home.

But if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m scared to death to break down and let them have a phone. It’s one less screen in front of their faces. It’s one less screen I have to worry about breaking. And it’s one less screen that’s going to take their precious innocence.

We have limited screen time. Weekends = 3 hours each day. Weekdays = unlimited. Well, that’s what we tell them – so they think they’re getting away with something. But between school, swim practice, baseball, Kung-Fu and Boy Scouts it works out to about 1.5 hours a day.

We have “Unplugged” days when no screens of any kind are allowed. We recently took an unplugged 4 day vacation to the mountains. Just fishing and hiking and board games and card games . Campfires and mosquitoes and skipping rocks. Books with real pages and that intoxicating “new book” smell.

It was heaven.

Like the author of the Washington Post article, I just can’t outright ban the screen time. It’s oh-so-necessary in this day and age. They need to be connected and savvy. On the other hand, I worry about what it is doing to their social skills. Will they develop a Dowager’s hump, hovering over their Kindles and iPads? And who ARE they talking to on xbox-Live?

This is truly a rickety-tricky age in which to live. Oh, sure. I know that every generation has its struggles. But this is one arena where we don’t have a role model to guide us. It’s trial and error. And with cyber-bullying and sexual predators, it’s an error that can be devastating.

So.

I struggle.

And you struggle.

And our kids hate us for keeping them from their precious screens.

But that’s just how it’s going to have to be.

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Filed under children, In the News, parenting

I Have A Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

And for as much as I “love” Facebook, I think I hate it more. But I can’t stay away. It’s like a train wreck. I just have to look.

How bad is my affliction? Disgusted with more bragging and bad news, I signed off and raced over here to write a post about it. But I mistakenly (or was it?) clicked on Facebook again. Realizing my mistake immediately and disgusted with myself for succumbing to my bad habit so mindlessly, I move the mouse to leave again. What do I do instead? Read another sensationalized post.

I’m pathetic.

……….

I love…

…catching up with old friends. Friends I’ve lost touch with. Friends who live far away.

….how easy it is to stay in touch with people. A quick photo of my kid coming home from his first day of school. A shared recipe from a friend. Engagement news. That your son is on swim team, too. It doesn’t have to be a monumental event. I love hearing about the day-to-day. In moderation, of course.

I hate…

….sensationalized journalism. It makes my heart jump and my stomach do flip flops. As we enter the flu-season (and you all know how I wrestle with the flu vaccine. Every. Single. Year.) I’m now flooded with U.S. maps of where EV-D68 has hit (here in Georgia) and I get to worry about that, too.

…the ¬†inflammatory posts of a political nature.

…the mundane, yet constant and excessive, “Having a drink at Applebee’s,” “Sure is sunny today,” and “Watching paint dry. Again,” kind of posts.

…the public service messages of a freakish nature. Some man, a known sleepwalker, camped near a cliff and fell off. My 11 year old is a sleepwalker. He’s a Boy Scout. They camp at least once a month. Near open bodies of water. Yeah. I don’t get much sleep those weekends. And I so didn’t need to see that post today. Or any day.

…the thinly veiled braggy posts or pictures of the latest party you attended (Yay! You have friends.) or your newest handbag purchase. Yes, I’ve heard of Michael Kors.

…the not-so-thinly-veiled braggy posts. The in-your-face barrage of photos or status updates extoling your oh-so-perfect life. Just once I’d like to see a picture of what you look like first thing in the morning. Or a panoramic view of your kids bedroom – today. Right now. Not after careful planning, a Pottery Barn decorating session and threats and screams to keep it clean 5 minutes for the picture.

…the phony “news” stories. Check with Snopes.com before you post something that sounds too good/too weird/too horrible to be true.

…the misquoted celebrity posts. John Lennon’s teacher/grow up to be happy quote – not true. And the “well-behaved woman” quote wasn’t said by Marilyn Monroe. Again. Check with Snopes before you re-post.

…the cryptic friend. “Worst. Day. Ever.” or “I hope it’s not ebola.” Really? If you’re not going to explain, I’m moving on. Attention seekers rarely get my attention. They get blocked.

Which reminds me of something else I love about Facebook that I forgot to mention.

 

I love…

…the ability to block certain people from your news feed without them knowing.

But that leads me to this confession.

I have so many people blocked on my news feed. People that violate my self-imposed Facebook Rules of Decorum. I’m beginning to wonder why I’m friends with them in the first place.

So, I’m going to have to end this post so I can go back to Facebook and do the proper research. I’ll get back to you with an answer in a few days.

See?

I’m hopeless.

 

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Filed under Confessions, Deep Thoughts