Monday, January 30, 2012

about the phone

Out of the blue one day, around the age of five, Abbott said, 'I dream about having a wallet and a cell phone.' For the past six months or so, he's followed up on that dream, or at least part of it, repeatedly asking for a phone of his own. His persistence in the face of adversity ('no') has been somewhat surprising. He hasn't complained; merely soldiered on. Followed up politely at regular intervals. He left me a note on my desk last week, asking when he might (underlined) get a phone.

The whole thing has been a bit puzzling to me. He rarely talks on the phone with his friends. He texts a couple of his cousins, and one of his great-aunts, from my phone. We restrict video games (he gets to play a minute for every minute of piano practiced) such that whether the phone is mine or his, the play time won't increase.

Yesterday he brought it up again, and we had a family discussion. He pointed out that he's been very responsible with his possessions, such as the camera we gave him for his birthday. He keeps the battery charged. He tends to leave it home when we travel, because he worries about losing it. He manages the camera's memory card independently. With this track record in mind, we decided to let him have one of our old iPhones. We're not paying for cell service, so it only works where there is wireless access. If he is discovered using the phone for games without permission or other inappropriate use, it will be confiscated.

Right away, he started exploring the voice recognition software he's seen Alexi use. He dictated something, and then wanted to erase what he had written and start something new. Alexi started to describe the somewhat circuitous route he takes to accomplish this. After hearing the explanation, he raised the possibility of a simpler way of swiping from top left to bottom right directly on the text before them, then tapping 'delete'. As he suggested this, he did it, and it worked! (Alexi wishes he'd thought of his a long time ago!)

This morning, before school, he used his phone to read three New York Times articles, this blog, and check the weather. After school, he used the calculator function to check some of his homework, and the timer to keep track of his piano practice.

So far, so good.


Lyndsay said...

Well, it's safe to say your child is a genius. :) And I thought Maya was good at age 2 just turning the thing on. Hahaha.

Purple Flowers said...

Abbott, it seems, is a very bright young man. I like his politeness, yet persistance for what he believes is a good thing for himself. The entire experience was good for him, and also for the entire family. I doubt he will be abusing his rights regarding the phone. I am amazed at how much he reads!!

Tracy said...

This brought a smile to my face.

Cathy said...

Wow. That's an amazing account of a child growing up and using all of his gifts, especially his reasoned approach to getting the phone in the first place. I'm totally impressed. Want to loan him out for problem solving??

emily said...

i admire your willingness to listen to your child and demonstrate your faith in him. and your clarity about the rules. admire.

Jess said...

I love when the children surprise us in those positive ways!

KPiep said...

I've fought and fought against technology when it comes to my girls....with my husband pushing back that they need to be able to function in the modern world.

Sounds like you've managed the perfect balance!

la domestique said...

Kids are so cool. Thanks for sharing this!

A Day That is Dessert said...

Thanks, all. Abbott is a great kid, no doubt about it. I wanted, more than the specifics about him, to open a discussion or at least thinking about parents and kids and technology, and how it all gets handled....

xo Lecia

pve design said...

Our twins in 8th grade were told by the school administration that every child would need a phone for the trip to Washington so we got them the one where you can buy minutes. I think that was all before the i-phone. Now they are in college with i-phones and texting them is one way we communicate. It is always good to hear from them one way or the other.
Abbott will handle his new tool with great care and parental support.
Congratulate Abbott and I also am in awe of how you brilliantly embrace all the possibilities in such a positive way.

alice c said...

When I was 13 I asked for a calculator for my birthday. My father bought me a slide rule and assured me that this was all I needed. I don't think I ever took it out of the box because it was outdated and there was no point in learning how to use it. I saved up for the calculator with my pocket money.

I am sure that this experience has informed my attitude to giving my children access to technology. We have always tried to ensure that they have the tools that they need to live in the world as it is now - not the world that we grew up in 20 years ago and they both had phones on contract from the age of 11. It is not a choice that I regret now that they are 20 and 22.

I am sure that Abbott will read this post and the comments and think about the encouraging messages here. A phone is a tool and used properly can be a window onto a wider world - good luck Abbott as you find out more about the world that you live in.