Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The nocturnal cell phone garden

As I start writing this post, it is 8:30 in the evening.  We are getting close to the time when we plant our nightly cell phone garden.

The cell phone garden is a little tradition I started way back when, in the days when I purchased my sons their very first cell phones.  Perhaps you have a similar tradition in your own home.  When I bought those phones, little knowing what I was getting into, at least I knew that it was important that phones came with Cell Phone Rules.

We had Financial Rules; most of those have changed to keep up with changing cell phone plans.  We had Politeness Rules and Safety Rules, and those have been fairly easy to enforce -- a few sheepdog barks here and there have been needed on occasion to herd the boys back into the corral, but for the most part, the larger culture has aided and abetted us in teaching our boys general cell phone etiquette.  Cool.

But by far my favorite rule is the 9 p.m. Rule.  That's the time that the boys turn off their phones, hand them over to their parents, and relinquish electronic devices for the night.

In the early years, the nightly confiscation was our early warning system to detect whether one or the other of the boys had, yet again, either lost or smashed their phones.  The boys were not kind to those early phones, were they?   No, they were not.  They've used cell phones for about 30 months now, and my two sons have probably gone through about 10 different phones.  (They've done a lot of chores and allowance withholding in order to earn their new phones).

The 9 p.m. rule also marked the transition from electronic to other entertainment (ice cream, reading, wrestling, etc) and then bed; this is a transition of course that my e-ddicted sons really need each night.  It means they're not texting friends, and they're not under temptation not to text, either.  It means that they really do get a chance to sleep.

Similarly, mornings are free of e-distractions.  The boys don't get their phones until they've cleaned themselves and the kitchen up, have their backpacks packed, and are ready to head out the door.  The phones have become a reward for preparedness.  That's a nice perk I hadn't expected.

And, of course, by planting our cellphones along the twining vine of cables and chargers in our bedroom, we ensure that our boys get their phones fully charged up overnight, so there is no excuse about dying cell phones if we need to call them during the day.

Mostly, though, I like how the cell phone garden has become ritual.  It's getting close to bedtime, so you hand over phones, get snacks, brush teeth.  You make it a part of the routine, a habit, almost a ceremony.

And now, it's 9:01.  Time to call the boys down and collect the devices.  Computer off.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I like this tradition. I just got a smart phone myself and am still working out my own traditions. How do I carry it? When do I have it on? All that sort of thing.