New challenges. New boundaries.

We have experienced first hand how addictive the iPhone can become. When we watched from the sideline the other families, how easily they gave in to kids’ demand of iPads and iPhones, we decided to have a proactive approach and implement boundaries for ourselves first. Conrad has an app limit which he abides by most often. 

Out kids played on two iPads I bought when I worked at Apple. Different games, they listened to music. They could draw or look at old pictures 15-30 minutes occasionally. Or watch a movie. Often times though we even forgot where we put the iPads and we found them with zero battery. 

Since Jackie started music school three years ago we gave her an old iPhone 5. She would call us when she got out. She used the phone more this school year coming home by bus. It also had the app find-friends on it. 

This last month though we entered a whole new season. She made a good friend at school and they could talk for hours. She definitely entered a new developmental stage. They walkabout boys and homework and school, but mostly the boys each of them like. It is endearing but the shift from forgetting where she put her phone from week to week, to talking for hours on the phone was evident. She also listens to music when doing her math homework. It helps she says. 

As she showed she can’t stop herself from spending too much time on the phone we set the parental control limit. 1 hour a day from 2:30 ro 3:30. No more. We discussed it with her yesterday. She was in tears. 

When you take away such an amount time, you have to make sure there are option to fill it. We used to play board games, go for walks, read, play with legos, day dream, do homework, play an instrument. There are lots of options. The phone is too easy to dive into and let hours pass talking about nothing. Self-control is the hardest lesson to learn at any age. 

As I listened to her opinion and disapproval, and I shared how we reached this decision, and how we will stick to it this week, she asked if the other parents are crazy to let their kids be on their phone without any limit. Because according to her, all her colleagues have a smart phone and they have no limits. I told her it is sad to say it but the parents who set no boundaries go with the flow. And that may not be the wisest decision. It is hard to swim against the current. For me as a parent and for Jackie. But there are plenty of areas I don’t have a strong opinion on and I learn as I go and I do go with the flow. And we will course correct as we see the effects. I hope they are not too dramatic. But the things I do know I will not turn a blind eye. And technology addiction and social engagement of the iPhone (even if she says she has no interest in Facebook and instagram, as she cares about only a handful of friends) things may change or she may be tempted or curious about the world beyond her five friends. And even these apps have a minimum age requirement (for a reason) but parents think they know better and bypass the guardrails which a re there for a reason. 

She accepted the situation. And it was not as hard as I thought it would be, but I see this as a practice for all the other expectation or wishes and peer pressure my kids or I will face. 

I hope we will not be too tired or clueless to make wise decisions in the future. If it’s too easy, it’s an illusion.