Chalk One Up for the Squares

When it comes to technology, I am very old fashioned. I have a cell phone – and I use it to make and receive phone calls. If I have to I send a few text messages. I also turn off my phone when I get home from work. If someone needs to get in touch with me, they call the house phone. (It took my extended family awhile to figure this out, and some think I am a bit weird).

What is worse, westbankpapa and I are very old fashioned when it comes to our kids and cell phones. We bought them ones that can make phone calls, send texts, take pictures, and play music – but do not have internet. The end result is that when our kids want to go onto the internet, they do so from our computer, with our Internet Rimon (an Israeli internet provider that screens out nasty stuff). They also have to share the computer with the rest of the family (no laptops for us), so by nature their total time on the internet is limited (and we kick them off when they have been on for too long, even if noone else wants the computer).

As you can imagine, it has caused a bit of conflict with the teenagers, and we have been accused of being unbelievably square.

I don’t mind being called a square – it reassures me that I am doing my job as a mother. This past few days I received another sign that we made the correct decision.

We had friends over recently and they brought their teenagers. Each one had an Ipad, and throughout the afternoon they played with them. When the discussion turned to something interesting, they would join in, and they would of course answer questions politely when addressed. When the discussion was “boring”, or did not concern them personally, they would play their games and check their Facebook pages. My kids of course did not do this.

After they had left my son mentioned this behavior to me. He told me that he has a friend who drives him crazy – because he can’t stop playing with the Ipad. “I even told him once – turn off your phone, I am trying to talk to you!”

At Pesach someone gave me a copy of Jewish Action, the magazine of the OU. There was an article in there about kids who, although they are Orthodox, they keep what is called “half Shabbos”. This means that they keep most of the laws regarding the Sabbath, but they use their phones to text to friends (which is against Jewish law). I was completely shocked. I could not understand how kids could be so addicted to this little machine, that they justify breaking Shabbat. (I am not sure if it happens here in Israel).

We need to put the latest technological tools in perspective, and we have to teach our kids to do the same. Just because you have email, does not mean that you have to be connected to the computer for most of the day so that you can check it.  Just because you have a cell phone, does not mean that you have to be available to anyone who wants you at all times. When you are with other people, you have to be “with” other people. There is a reason it is considered rude to answer a phone call when you are in the middle of a conversation with someone else. The only exception should be medical personnel who are on call. (During work hours there are exceptions of course).

If I am considered square for insisting on this, so be it.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gloriousforest
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 16:00:34

    Normally I disagree with most of what you write, but with this you are on point.
    People often think I am much older than I am because my parents never let us watch television as children (we had 2 hours a week, unless we were watching the news with our parents), we did not have personal computers (I got my first laptop when I left home to go to university), we had dinner together every night, we were expected to participate in conversations and/or board/card games with my parents friends when they came over, and we were taught manners.
    A friend asked me why I didn’t send him text messages yesterday, I explained that as much as I wanted to, I was with other people and while I answered the phone or read messages (because it’s my birthday), I made it a point to not spend more time than needed on the object because I felt it was rude.

    I think in this regard, you’ve definitely done it right! 🙂

  2. shilohmuse
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 19:41:12

    beyond rudeness is what’s the norm today

  3. westbankmama
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 18:09:41

    Gloriousforest – I think it is great that you read my blog even though you do not agree with me. I confess that I usually do not do the same. Reading blogs for me is an enjoyable “escape” and I don’t usually explore those out of my comfort zone, but I respect those who do.

    It must have been difficult for you as a child to know that you had different rules in your house than other kids did – but now you see the benefit. Whenever my kids complain about my parenting, I tell them that when they have kids they will understand. I hope I am right!

    Shilohmuse – I wonder, though, if people aren’t taught that something is rude, if they can be held accountable for their behavior…

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