Grace Michaelson

Smart Phones & Children

Feb
20

Lately my feed on Facebook has been bombarded by articles stating that children should not be allowed “Smart” phones.  While I agree that some of the concerns mentioned in these articles are possibly true, today I’m going to spell out why I allow my children to have Smart Phones.

I actually was probably the first parent in Middle School to start having my children carry Apple Smart Phones.  I am very comfortable with my decision and, in fact, will upgrade my children’s phones usually when I upgrade.  (i.e. They get my old phone.)

My biggest concern regarding the articles I’ve read about not allowing your child a smart phone is that they completely and utterly ignore parent involvement.  If my child had the same privilege on his or her phone, then, of course, it would be a very bad thing.  However, the fact that you might just possibly be a good parent makes it less dangerous.  Here is why:

  1.  My children do not have free access to their Smart Phones.  This is because, as their parents, I have chosen to say to them, “I pay for this, therefore you use it my way.”  Instead of banning kids completely from smart phones because you don’t actually want to parent them is ridiculous.
  2. At least on the Apple Phones, and I’m assuming the other phones have this, too, there are settings and safe checks to keep your child from getting his or herself into danger with their smart phone.  For instance, when my children want to download something to their phone, their phone automatically requests me to approve or deny their request.  Over the years, I will ease up on the control I have over their phones, because eventually I want them choosing these right choices themselves and not relying completely on me for their moral convictions.
  3. There’s this wonderful app on Apple Phones called “Find my iPhone.”  When activated, I am allowed to track my children’s movements when they are not with me.  I can also “ding” their phone if they are refusing to call me or pick up their phone when I need to get ahold of them.  Many, many times this has saved me from worrying about my children because I know 1.) They will always bring their phone with them in this day and age,  2.)because I act like a parent and require them to let me know where they are going, I know when they’re not where they are supposed to be when I track their phone, and 3.)I am not afraid of embarrassing my child in front of all their friends by dinging their phone (a very loud an obnoxious ding that the whole world can here) if they’re not responding.
  4. What about porn, and the like, you say?  Again, being the parent you’re supposed to be covers this option, as well.  Yes, the “easier” rode of parenting means I just forbid my child from anything that would be potentially dangerous to them.  However, if we do that, we might as well just place them in a box, hammer it shut, and don’t let them out until they turn 18.  What does that kind of protection do?  It causes the child not to learn from any mistakes they make while they are under your control and can train them in the way they should go.  Immature adults is what you get from it.  People who have no idea how to make responsible choices, have no idea how to combat the temptations of the “real world”, and lastly, children who will rush out and do everything you told them not to do because they have no moral compass of their own and no idea what is right and what is wrong.  Does this mean I give them access to porn, and evil that they can’t handle?  Of course not.  All smart phones have apps that allow you to block porn and evil.  However, the truth is, whether you give them a “smart” phone or a “dumb” phone, if your child wants to get a hold of these things, they will.  All “dumb” phones are equipped with internet access now.  There really is no such thing, as a “dumb” phone as we understand it.  So be a parent and teach your child what’s right and what’s wrong so that they will make choices that make you proud.
  5. I want to emphasize what my husband and I have done to safe guard our children from predators.  In a day and age where human trafficking is all over the news, it is hugely important that we keep our kids safe from these types of predators.  So, the rules of our house are simple:  1.) You don’t go anywhere you haven’t told us your going, 2.) You are home before city curfew for minors, 3.) Michael and I don’t go to sleep until all our children are home and safe, 4.) We have a secret password that we tell anyone we send to pick up our children.  Over and over again I remind my children not to go anywhere with a stranger unless they have my password.  5.)Finally, we’re not afraid to embarrass our children.  Again, we track their phone, if they’re not where they’re supposed to be their phone gets “beeped” until they respond.  No normal child will leave their house without their phone.  Once we had one of our children turn off the tracking feature.  He was grounded from all his activities for a very long time.  I sense a theme in this post, do you?  Be a parent.
  6. As far as social interference that a “Smart Phone” may bring:  My children have time limits on when they can and cannot use their phone.  Not at the dinner table.  Not during family time.  Not after bed time.  These are simple rules that teach your child that it’s more important to give their family and friends face time, rather than spend their whole lives in the virtual world.  Another thing: my children don’t get on Social Media without “friending” or “following” me so that I have access to their feed.  I also have wonderful people in my children’s lives who I know will “tell on” them if they block me from viewing something.  It does “take a village” to protect your child in social media.
  7. I’m not afraid to ask for my children’s phones and look through their texts if I feel they’re not being wise with who they text.  I don’t think this needs more explanation– except that this rule applies whether you give your child a “smart phone” or a “dumb phone”.
  8. Final thing:  Take the phone away if it becomes a problem.  We have no qualms from removing temptation from our children until they show they can be responsible.  The line goes like this:  “You can have a smart phone until I feel it’s unsafe or unwise for you to have one.”  If you’re the parent you should be, then your children will realize that you mean business.

As you can see, I do not believe it’s the “smart phone” industry that is dangerous.  The danger lies in permissive and unwise parents who are unwilling to put up protective boundaries for their children.  In every part of our parenting, whether it’s phones or computers, or just whether your child is going to wear designer clothes on your dime, it’s your responsibility to keep your child safe.  Sure, the easy way is to ban them from everything that may hurt them, but that doesn’t teach anything.  It makes you a bad parent.

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6

Relax. Let God.

Jul
06

This week has been one of those weeks where my emotions have decided to pick up their signs and take to the pick-it line.  I feel drained and frustrated with trying to figure out exactly why I feel so anxious and emotional.  Added to that, after months of really not feeling sick at all, my body has decided to take a hiatus at the funny farm, because none of my doctor’s precious labs that he loves oh so much can explain why I feel oh so sick.

So, am I insane?  Even more of a personal question, have I somehow gone off the radar spiritually?  Am I angry at someone/God?  Am I angry at my situation?  Have I given into depression?  Have I sinned and God is punishing me?  These are all honest thoughts that go through all sincere Christian’s minds when bad things or bad days happen, or just when our emotions decide to go on a rampage.

I have tried to put a substantial concrete reason to why I feel so crappy right now.  I’ve finally realized today, though, that there is no logical reason for it that I can fix.  Sometimes crappy things just happen.  Not because of anything we’ve said, or done, or are going to do.  Not because of anything we can control.  They are just there.  There because, I believe, Satan wants to see if we’re going to give up, curse God, and die! Or are we going to stop trying so much and start trusting God for His answer.  They sound a little similar, just that the “curse God” part is switched for “trust God” and we don’t have to die… at least not yet.

I have to admit, I’m still trying to figure this out.  How do you “try less”.  These emotions are so strong!  How do I fight them?  How do I control them?  It’s so tough when they make me so crabby!  I keep trying to find answers to why I feel this way so that maybe then I can make them go away.  Yet, I realized today that’s not the answer.  The answer is being OK with feeling the feelings.  It’s OK that I feel anxious.  The Bible does say be anxious for nothing, yes.  But, what it means is, when you feel anxious, give it to God.  Don’t fight the anxiety, trying not to feel it.  Just acknowledge it’s presence and then tell God about it.  Then God’s peace comes.  Sometimes you gotta do it over and over and over again throughout the day if you’ve got anxiety like I do.

I know that the hardest thing to fight is the idea of looking dumb.  The symptoms of anxiety can really make you feel dumb and look dumb sometimes.  I hate it when anxiety crops up and the most inopportune time.  I want to look smart and with-it, clever and genuine.  Not fearful and dismayed!  The best thing to do is try less.  Be honest.  Be sincere.  It’s OK to be a little nervous when trying new things.

What if your emotion is not anxiety?  Is it anger? Shame? Fear? Frustration at not being perfect? What is your challenging emotion? Grief?  All these feelings are what America has labeled negative, but what I would like to encourage you to learn to see at positive and OK to feel and accept in yourself as you give them to God a little at a time.  True they can overwhelm you if you ruminate in them, but if you’re feeling them to then pass them onto God, you’re going to be OK.  Don’t squash them down to try and hide them.  God already sees.  Don’t try to control them, they will get too big.  Just try less and give them to God.  Relax.  Let God.

Moderation, Stress, and Busyness!

Apr
11

What are the first three most important rules of staying healthy when you struggle with a chronic illness? 1. Moderate, 2. Moderate, 3. Moderate.  Stress and Busyness are killer symptom-activators for chronic illness.  If you want to stay healthy, you have got to moderate.  Do I sound like I’m preaching a sermon?  Well, I’m not preaching at you, I’m preaching to myself.  That’s right, I’m the worst when it comes to moderating.

Stress is my middle name.  No, actually, it’s Réne, but it seems like it’s “Stress” because every time I turn around I have something stressful knocking on my front door.  Recently it has been mold growing in my oldest son’s room.  We had to get a Mold Remediating Company to come to our house… blah, blah, blah! Yeah, it was a headache of stressful proportions.  I have lived my life surviving one thing after the other with the mentality of closing my eyes and stating to myself “This too shall pass… this too shall pass… this too shall pass…”  It definitely passed, but it was always replaced by that next stressful thing.

Obviously I have had it wrong this whole time because my symptoms have been totally out of control.  Sticking my head in the sand like an ostrich definitely isn’t the answer, is it?  So what’s the answer, if life is full of stressful and unhealthy busyness that we can’t control?  What can we do to not just survive life, but actually learn to master our life and even enjoy life despite our stress and busyness?  The answer is moderate.

So what is moderation?  The definition of moderation is:  the avoidance of excess or extreme’s in one’s behavior.  The action of making something less extreme.  The Thesaurus says: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-command, self-discipline, temperance, leniency, and fairness.

Basically, what we’re looking to do in our lives is to avoid excess.  If we can control the busyness instead of the busyness controlling us.  When things get stressful, as they will inevitably become, it’s important to take that step back and ask ourselves what we have stopped doing in our disciplines that we need to get back to.  Are we going to bed at a descent time? Avoid extreme bedtimes.  Are we drinking a moderate amount of water?  Not too much, not too little.  Are we exercising moderately based on our physical ability?  Again, avoiding extremes.

Sometimes even our disciplines feel like too much when life stresses us out.  So sometimes we need to take a further step back and ask ourselves what we need to do.  Last week I was at the point where I was so stressed out I was at my max.  So I canceled everything.  I needed a week for a checkpoint to figure out what had gone wrong.  I called my doctor.  I spent some time rejuvenating spiritually, emotionally, physically.  It was a mini self-imposed vacation.

Sometimes you’ve got to do that for yourself when things have gone too far.  You just can’t force yourself through forever.  Nobody has a “get up an go button” that works forever.  Invariably it breaks and it should break.  Instead of forcing yourself through the stress, you need to find a different way to handle life’s stress.  I have found that that different way is the first three rules of staying healthy… moderation.  See if it works for you.