My middle schooler told me yesterday that he took a nap on the bus en route to his track meet.
I said, “A nap? Wasn’t it kind of noisy to take a nap?” I was remembering what my bus was like in middle school–with rowdy kids calling out to each other and jumping from seat to seat while the bus driver wasn’t looking.
But my son said, “No, actually, everyone was really quiet. They were all looking at their phones.”
Is it just me, or does that seem a little strange? Middle school boys quiet? On a bus? And without a guy with a uniform a gun standing guard? What sort of spell has been cast on our middle school boys?!
I suppose I should be grateful, to some degree. I mean, if it’s silent, I don’t have to worry about my son hearing dirty stories or bad language, right? It seems a little silly to say that my son is missing out, because his bus isn’t full of burping, yelling, tackling boys.
Yet the silent bus seems a bit eerie. And the power of those little screens is scaring me. I wonder what will happen to a generation of boys who never look anyone in the eye and don’t know how to talk to each other? What kind of men will grow out of boys who communicate only with their thumbs?
The men I know–the ones who never had a little screen as a kid–naturally struggle with communication and relationships. I sincerely doubt that their sons are going to have a leg up by getting no practice during the awkward years of adolescence. How are silent busloads of boys going to evolve into the kind of leaders that our families and communities are thirsting for?
I long for my sons to be exceptional leaders. I want them to become articulate men who know how to read people and competently argue their position. I want them to be strong, compassionate, selfless leaders who contribute to the world they live in. And I’m not naive enough to think this is going to happen without a lot of practice and interaction with real, live people.
The culture says that we are giving our boys and advantage by putting these little screens in their hands. But I wonder if the opposite might be true. What do you think?
Yeah…I'm against technology. Kidding…kind of. Nate recently offered to get me a smart phone, but I said no. I think it can be dangerous. I really don't like what it's done to our society.
Good for you, Heidi! I don't think I could have turned that one down. I like to keep technology from my kids, but not myself–ha ha! (Although this is precisely what they think!) I think the key is embracing the good uses of technology (like having a blog which encourages other moms) and rejecting the ways that it inhibits us (like watching tv instead of interacting as families).
I was visiting with a friend yesterday about technology, and she said they don't bother with it “because we try to only do things that give glory to God”. I'm totally in favor of that, but think technology (even Facebook) CAN be used to that end. But the key is BALANCE. And it takes DISCIPLINE… neither of which are easy to achieve. I'm in favor of those coaches who make the kids drop the phones in the bag at the front of the bus, and of having the kids turn their phones in when they get safely in from wherever they are, and then use them only with permission (kind of like we had to get permission to use the telephone, back in the dark ages). Constant contact with their peers isn't a good thing, but I like that they can contact me in a moment's notice if they get into a compromising situation. All I know is that I thought it was tough being an adolescent in the 80s. It's nothing compared to now!
Great point, Traci! There's no 'opting out' of technology. I agree–we need to teach our kids to harness the good and discipline themselves with usage. That's just really hard at 13. (or at 42.)