“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy. They will consider nothing sacred.” 2 Timothy 3:2
Why I Took Technology Away from my Teenager
She was 11 years-old when she was introduced to tablets and cell phones. I was always on the fence about allowing her to have a cell phone, but here I was, unexpectedly forced into single mothering and reconsidering my decision. At the time, handing her a cell phone became less about the danger and more about protection.
So many things happen in schools these days. Thinking of her having a cell phone just in case something happened, gave me peace of mind.
I worked late and thinking of her sitting in our house alone, in the dark, in a new city made me uneasy. Giving her a cell phone would calm my fears, I thought.
He Creeps Around like a Lion
Eleven is like the calm before the storm of twelve. I always told my daughter that middle school would be difficult; that it would probably be some of the most challenging years of her life. She swatted me away telling me she wouldn’t be like everyone else, but I knew better.
Dealing with my own battles though, I failed to notice the changes occurring in my sweet daughter. Although I set rules for technology, they weren’t enough.
First, she began experimenting, asking me if she could download apps. I would have to approve them first because it required my password.
Then, she began retreating into her room for hours. I didn’t find it odd since I did the same thing when I was her age. Sometimes I would go upstairs to her bedroom, knock on the door, and she wouldn’t hear me. Upon opening the door, she would be wearing headphones, dancing in the mirror, recording videos of herself on an app to her friends.
Car rides consisted of her face down in her phone: texting, taking selfies, and playing with apps.
Her attitude…her personality..her happiness was fading and I brushed it off as normal for her age.
When Creeping Turns to Growling
I don’t shelter my children in a way that keeps them naive to the world, but I do shelter them when it comes to the realities of the world. I have always told my eldest daughter that if she had a question about anything, to come to me first. I have always told her that her friends may not answer her question honestly, not because they’re being dishonest, but because they just aren’t old enough or haven’t been taught the truth about a particular subject. I promised her I would always answer any question she had, no matter what it was about.
So I’ve stood by that. I talk to her, in detail, about anything she wants to know because I’m smart enough to know that if I don’t, someone else will and it probably won’t be provided with accuracy or with a biblical viewpoint. So while some may think it’s strange that I took her cell phone away, I know many others who would agree that it’s changing our children.. and not for the better.
It wasn’t until a pretty serious circumstance, that I realized what technology was doing to my little girl. It took a situation that hits very close to home for me, causing the color to drain from my face and a fire to blaze inside me warning me of what was happening. It was as if the fire was ablaze and firemen were all around me yelling at me to save my daughter from the burning building before it was too late.
It was serious enough to cause me to make the decision to take away all technology, at least for the summer.
Not even two weeks went by when I realized my daughter:
- Hadn’t complained about losing the privilege of technology
- Was calm and happier
- Hadn’t gotten into any arguments with me
- Was branching out and doing things she hadn’t done in a long time
- Was playing with her younger sister more
- Was less anxious
- Was beginning to look out the window on car rides to notice things she had never seen before
- Was reading more
Sitting here talking about it still makes me tear up. I feel upset at myself for not noticing the warning signs. I feel angry for allowing myself to get caught up in what the world thinks should be normal for our children. I even feel a little naive for giving in.
What did I do when I was young and home alone? We had a landline.
What did I do in my spare time when I was 11 or 12? I read books and listening to music and PLAYED OUTSIDE!
God never changes, but all around us, changes abound. Satan is a master at creeping into situations and relationships so slowly that you don’t even realize what’s happening until it’s too late. One minute everything is great and the next minute, it’s falling apart.
- Your children
There’s a reason God tells us to stay alert. The devil is prowling around like a lion ready to devour. It really hit me when my soon-t0-be-husband read me this verse:
“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy….” 2 Timothy 3:2
- Lovers of themselves – selfies, entitlement, divorce, adultery..people do whatever they need to do to make sure they’re happy whether it hurts others or not. Thinking of my daughter standing in that mirror watching herself sing reminded me of being a lover of yourself. She was so self-focused, she didn’t care what she had to do to get alone time to play on her phone and talk to her friends, even to the point of being disrespectful.
- Boastful, proud, disobedient to parents – These things were all happening in my daughter because of technology. How do I know it’s because of technology? We’ve only had one or two arguments since she has had her phone taken away – an entire summer of calm.
- Ungrateful – Being ungrateful is definitely a theme with today’s children. It goes back to self-love. They think they are entitled to certain things just because they exist. It’s a difficult lesson to teach children and one that a lot of parents don’t want to or don’t know how to teach. Giving your child everything they want because you don’t want to listen to them complain is not working. Not only are you making it more difficult for yourself, but you’re also making it difficult on other adults who have to interact with your children, such as teachers. Make them work for their school clothes money, make them earn the money they want for extra things. Make them share in the responsibilities at home such as dishes, etc. Then when they complain and grumble, give them extra chores. It’s not mean. It’s necessary. Your job is to prepare them for adulthood.
- Unholy – I wish I could share the story of what woke me up to technology tearing my daughter apart, but out of respect for her, I won’t. Regardless, it was a situation that was not holy, not appropriate, and unlike anything I had ever taught her was right. I always told her that if she gave me any reason to distrust her, things would be taken away in the blink of an eye. If she can’t be responsible with things, she isn’t ready for them.
It’s important, as a parent, to weigh the positives and negatives of technology. Just because everyone in school has something or is allowed to do something, doesn’t mean your child should. There are many things to consider first:
- Your child’s maturity level
- What they will be using the device for
- The consequences that will be given if rules are not followed
- The rules you want to put into place before allowing them access
- The use of parental monitoring
- The need for technology based on their school policies/activities
Even with the consideration of all these things though, it’s still important to monitor your child closely for any signs of abnormal behavior.
Only you can make the right decision for your own children, but I hope that before you make it, you seriously consider the consequences, the requirement for rules, and the necessity for allowing it in the first place.