Nearly every time you turn on the radio or TV, there is a cautionary tale about texting and driving or a PSA echoing the same warning. It is fairly common knowledge that no one should text and drive. Almost every parent has talked to their kids about this, and chances are, with some of the graphic videos out there, the message has been driven home, no pun intended.
The task at hand, now, is to teach kids other times when it is not a good idea to text. That means putting the phone down and engaging with them to do so.
Texting while walking might seem even easier than walking and chewing gum, but there are risks involved. Among them, running into a pole, walking out into oncoming traffic and not seeing that very large and vicious-looking dog headed your way. The most important point, however, is simply not being aware of their surroundings and circumstances. It's easy to get so caught up in texting that they can't be sure which direction they are headed or who is watching them. A van could pull up beside them, jack them, close the door and they are gone. Predators prey on distraction. They look for kids who aren't paying attention because, quite simply, it makes them ridiculously easy targets. Teach kids to do one thing at a time and to not walk and text.
Using the restroom
This should go without saying. Electronics devices (expensive ones, at that) have no business going into a restroom. Not while showering, bathing, shaving, brushing your teeth or relieving yourself. Water and motherboards are never a good mix. The outcome cannot be good. Besides all of that, taking a phone into the restroom with them is a strong indicator of their enslavement to a small handheld device. Whoever is on the other end can surely wait a few moments.
Studies have confirmed that using electronics within an hour of bedtime is harmful to a good night's sleep. It affects the brainwaves and causes disruptive slumber. Teach kids to put the phone away one hour before they turn in for better rest. Remind them of their rapidly changing bodies, watch them cringe and roll their eyes and then make it mandatory — not an option.
Mealtime is family time. No one should have their phone or tablet at the table. It is a time for eye contact, human interaction and family intimacy, none of which can be accomplished with busy fingers. Think of a clever way to accomplish this such as, whoever brings their device to the table does the dishes. Watch them scatter to put their phones away. When you are going out as a family to eat, leave all but one parent's phone at home. Turn that one off, but have it in case of an emergency.
There is nothing wrong with having your phone at school. In fact, it can be a very smart idea. After all, it likely has GPS in case a child goes missing or has a flat tire on the way home. That being said, classroom time is for learning. Unless the assignment involves looking up something on your smart phone, they should be left turned off. Such distractions are a tremendous temptation. Just because a child's school might not have a cell phone policy does not mean your family has to remain without one. Set guidelines and enforce them.
During church, at a wedding or a funeral
I admit to carrying my phone at church and using it as all my lessons are on there as well as my scriptures. Even my hymns are on there. But teach kids to leave it at that. They should not be playing Texas Hold 'em or talking to friends during a church event. Weddings and funerals, baby christenings and the like should all be electronics-free — at least until it's picture time. Then pull out that little piece of electronic wizardry and snap away.
While playing sports
Focus should be the keyword here. Focus on the game, your team, and the score not on your bff's boy problems. Also, most sports pose a threat to the delicacy of cell phone circuitry. Also, yoga is for relaxing, not texting. Teach them to put their phones away during sporting events, whether playing or watching.
When they are with a special someone
Showing kids how much you care about your relationship with your spouse by not texting when you are with them and then teaching them to show the same care with that special person in their lives will help them to learn about respect and giving someone their full attention. Also, teach them to require the same respect from the other person. They should feel strong enough to ask them to put their devices away while they are with them.
Texting and driving is not the only way our kids can be at risk. Teaching them other times to put their phones away will keep them happier and healthier. Teaching them about being a slave to electronic communication will help them think about what they are doing each time they answer that little ding. Show them a better way through example and then require the same from them. Teach them to be in the moment and to live outside of the little blue screen.
A parent basically has to muddle her way through the 18-plus-year adventure, rubbing her eyes from the sleep deprivation. When you approach a mother in the wild, go easy. And maybe avoid these observations or questions when talking to a mom of teens.