The cell phone dilemma

Today’s horoscope said being concerned with “the result” would be good in a professional setting, but not a social one. I took that to mean that goals I could achieve alone might be attainable, but having expectations of others was a bad idea. Today.

It kind of reminds me of the serenity prayer. The trick is knowing what you can control and what you can’t.

Like yesterday, when my daughter, who will be in the third grade, wanted to download the Instagram app on her tablet. She asked me if she could and I said something to the effect of “whatever,” thinking she wouldn’t be able to start an Instagram account without my help.

But I was wrong. Not only did she download the app, but she managed to start an account using a profile picture of herselfie holding up the two-finger “peace” sign.

She showed it to me. She had started “following” some people who posted cat videos, because she likes cats, and she had also recorded a video of her own cat, which she intended to post.

I mentioned the peace sign profile pic to my husband. He proceeded to go ballistic until the child was crying. And in the process of crying, she totally threw me under the bus.

“But you said I could!”

So, this is one of those things I could and should have controlled.

Well, it was true. I said she could. But I figured, you know, we could always delete the app. Which we did. After he went ballistic.

He and I are both high school teachers. I have a love-hate relationship with social media, but I admit that I really don’t think it’s any place for a third-grade girl.

He has a hate-hate relationship with social media. He carries a pay-per-minute Tracfone, which he does not answer.

This is what he told her: People on social media are mean. And it’s true. Social media is where at least half of the bullying in the world takes place now, and that’s just bullying. That’s not even considering the risk from online predators.

One of the most frustrating things for high school teachers is reminding students to put their phones away and focus. I assume second-grade teachers don’t have this problem, but I recently talked to a fourth-grade teacher who does, sometimes. She told me that many of her students do have cell phones.

In talking to friends, I have gathered that the average child uses a tablet before starting elementary school and is given a cell phone around age 11, when they enter middle school. This is so that the child can text the parent throughout the day regarding extracurricular activities. Obviously, it creates a major distraction in school, but it seems that many parents believe their children are mature enough at 11 to use cell phones responsibly.

But if we’re being honest, we’ll admit that a lot of adults aren’t very responsible or polite with their cell phones, either. What is with these people who are always on their phones in public places, even when they go through the checkout at the grocery store? They can’t get off the phone long enough to say “thank you” to the cashier.

I’ve had to ask friends to please stop texting me while we are both driving. They laugh at me for being such a technophobe. They’re like, “Ha-ha, that’s my friend, Star, the one who likes reading paper books …”

So this morning, my daughter watched a movie about a teen girl who could control boys with an app on her cell phone. While there is so much to dislike about this particular plotline, I can’t help but hate the fact that the characters our daughters are looking up to now are tapping their acrylic-manicured fingertips across a screen all day.

It makes Disney princesses seem so quaint, so benign. Now the standard of beauty isn’t  just unrealistic and materialistic; it’s also shallow and self-absorbed.

All I know is, if you could control human beings with an app, it would certainly be a best-seller, but it doesn’t work that way.

There is no magic app, fairy, or woodland creature to clean my toilets or water the roses that have gone dry on my windowsill, so I will have to take the astrologer’s advice and do those things myself. I only hope those around me will look up from their screens long enough to notice.


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