So what if our little darlings had to have background checks before they could use a cellular device? And they had to wait twenty-two or thirty-two days to receive their new phone? And then sign a declaration of phone behavior? Wouldn’t that just change the world as we know it? Here are some possible parameters when they visit the phone store to speak to the background clerk.
“Grades last semester?” Clerk smiles to the teen.
Teen stammers, “Uuuhhh, some good, some bad.” Tut-tut-tutting from the clerk.
“Made your bed in the past year?” Blank Stare. Clerk scribbles like mad.
Teen begins shifting from foot to foot. Clerk taps on his clipboard with the eraser end of the pencil but continues with the checklist.
“Tickets or other vehicle related incidents? Skipping School? Sassiness to parents?”
Teen is sweating by now and thinking that they might NOT need a new phone after all.
“Who will be paying for the phone and the monthly installments?” Teen goes buggy-eyed and asks, “You mean there are monthly payments?”
The background clerk continues, “How many screen covers have you been through in the past three years?”
“Inappropriate Apps on your current phone?” Unh, Unh, Unh. Clerk is busy pushing buttons on the trade-in phone to see if teen is telling the entire truth. Teen is slowly backing towards the door.
Clerk smiles and says, “Now we get down to personal information: Boyfriend’s name? Amount of time expected to spend sending emoticons back and forth to him? Does he participate in Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook?”
And then the signature pages: I promise to eat dinner WITHOUT my phone in the room. I promise to use the bathroom as a private room and leave my phone elsewhere. I promise to NEVER use my phone in the movie theaters. I promise not to text my mother’s words to all my friends before she even finishes her sentence. I promise not to be texting during school unless I have a migraine. I will NEVER text and drive.
I did poll my household and got 100 percent negative ratings. NO ONE, and I mean no one, wants to have to answer for their actions before getting a phone. The fourth grader is begging for one and the pre-teen insists that he can’t wake up without the alarm on his phone. How in the world does he think he managed before? I will tell you. I arose early and went and knocked on his door as I flipped on the lights. He got up very quickly when the covers were yanked off his curled up body. I don’t really see the sense in the phone alarm argument, but several have used it.
Maybe we don’t need background checks on phones but rather we need a period of training like we do with driving. Phone user education. Teach them how to understand the dangers of reckless browsing. Teach them the dangers of adding strangers to their friends’ lists. Try to teach them about the dangers of being on the phone 24/7. Perhaps we could teach them that it is virtually impossible to do practical work holding a phone in one hand. Or we could try to teach them that phones are often the tools used for unacceptable acts like cyberbullying.
Perhaps they would listen and perhaps they would not. I am not seriously suggesting more regulation in our already over-regulated lives, but it makes for some lively conversation at the dinner table. The phone users were supporting their arguments fairly well when I brought it up. So, maybe it can be used as the question for the writing portion of the SAT exam.
I would love to read some of those essays!