A really interesting thing happened over our recent spring break. As the title of the post says, it was an accidental experiment in social media and teens. We were traveling to The Caribbean with Big, Middle & Little. Being from Chicago, we were all in need of a little sun and sand after an especially brutal and long winter. In advance of the trip, Big asked if we would consider getting him a Lifeproof case for his iPhone. He thought it would be fun to take pictures and videos of Middle & Little underwater in the pool. That made some sense to us and we agreed that it could make for great memories. We purchased a case for him.
Down to vacation we go. Snap! On goes the Lifeproof case. We perform the suggested water test, and into the pool he goes. Pow! That was the end of the phone. Water immediately leaked in and the phone never turned on again.
Now this could be a post about what a poorly designed product the case is, but in fact that is not what I’m writing about. (Although, buyer beware on Lifeproof.)
It’s what happened over the course of the next 7 days that surprised us. Aside from the initial 5 minutes after the phone died (in which the ground shook and I think some windows cracked), Big never mentioned his phone again. This coming from the King of Generation text, where a trip to the dentist is texted and a photo montage of the fluoride treatment is posted on Instagram. Instead, he read books, he played silly games with his siblings and wait for it… actually talked to us at dinner. Normally when we’re on vacation and he and his siblings are done eating he’ll leave the table to text with friends or check sports scores ( I understand that not many kids want to sit through a leisurely meal on vacation). The younger two will normally play tag or some other game near where we’re seated. But with no phone, there was no pull to check in with his friends or to look at the latest Instagram posts (whether from his classmates or even LeBron James). Instead, Big played tag with Little, chased iguanas with Middle and entertained them while we finished our meals. Their fun was something right out of the 70’s, and it was quite amazing to see!
Once or twice he mentioned wishing that he had his phone to take a photo, but in the end he just used mine. He got the pictures he wanted, spent found time with his much younger siblings and had conversational lunches & dinners with mom & dad. At the end, when we asked him about it, he admitted it was nice to have a break from the constant chatting with and checking in with friends.
I’m not saying I would intentionally hope his phone dies again, but it did give us pause as to whether we should make leaving Big’s cell phone at home part of the spring break contract- or severely curtailed. Since settling back in from spring break, we’ve instituted “no tech” times on weeknights and for select parts of the weekend. We’ve brought out board games and playing cards and actively tried to have the kids engage in non screen activities. You know what, it’s working. I’m not saying that they’re not playing any video games or texting on their phones. But we’ve been playing SPIT (an awesome card game), UNO, Monopoly, Break the Ice and Zingo. They’ve started playing tag (the neighbors must love us) and hide & seek! These are oldies but goodies folks and they still entertain!
Would love to know what you’re all doing in your homes!