The only thing my sixth grade daughter wants for Christmas this year is an iPhone. Not because she actually plans to call anyone, or even because she wants to text very often. My daughter, like every other middle school [and many elementary school students I know] strongly desires the ability to connect with others through social media.
Mia has gone so far as to write out a list of eleven TOP reasons why she would like to have what “all” of her friends already possess (and it’s true; the majority of her friends do have phones and/or social media accounts). She’s written out several ways she promises to help around the house in order to contribute to the cost of the phone, and she’s also formulated her own contract with carefully laid boundaries as to the use and privacy of this phone she so desires.
Mia has done a lot of thinking about this, often it’s the last word she whispers into my ear when I go to kiss her goodnight (“phone” she says sweetly in hushed tones as I bend over her)…yes, my dear, I know, you want a phone.
And while all the positive markers are in place, still we hesitate.
Whether your kids have phones or not, likely they have some kind of electronic device. If your home is anything like ours, moderating the use of electronics is a struggle. I have had a lot of conversations over the past few years with parents who are trying to balance their kid’s electronic use with quality family life and school success. Overuse isn’t limited to adolescents; adults often struggle with it as well. Yet there is no escaping the reality of our daily digital lives.
However, we can learn more about its impact…and I am excited to tell you our community has a unique, one-time event happening, sponsored by the McKamy PTA, to view an incredible documentary called Screenagers: Growing Up In The Digital Age. This movie will be shown on Sunday, November 13th at 4 p.m. at Moviehouse & Eatery in Flower Mound. Screenagers looks at the impact our digital world is having on our kids both at home and in school. Entrance to the film is free of charge; however, seating is limited so you will want to arrive early to make sure your family gets in.
This is an excellent opportunity for every middle school/high school family! Kids and parents will benefit from watching several experts in the field of psychology and education discuss the issue, as well as the movie’s main character who is both a pediatrician and the mother of an adolescent struggling with phone issues. Dr. Delaney Ruston does an incredible job of informing the viewer, in an entertaining way, about the ups and downs of raising our kids in the digital age.
Whether this Christmas is the right time for my daughter to receive a phone or not, there will come a day. As moms and dads it is in our best interest to teach our kids how to moderate the use of social media, internet, and screen time with the essential art of face-to-face communication and engagement. We can do this best by modeling for them what it looks like to be a responsible user.
To learn more about Screenagers: Growing Up In The Digital Age and to see the movie trailer, please visit www.screenagersmovie.com.
Kim Muench is a married mother of five children living in Flower Mound. A certified parenting coach, her passion lies in supporting and encouraging parents of adolescents. To read more of her work, or to learn about her parenting program, go to www.realifeparentguide.com.