Monday, May 24, 2010

A No Phone Zone

My baby girl had her 13th birthday party on Friday night. I love it when a group of friends gather at our house. I love hearing them talk and laugh and I love providing a place for connection. I did something this year that started last year at her 12th birthday party...I made the party a "No Phone Zone".

I went downstairs after the girls had arrived and a few of the girls were texting while sitting in the group, I asked to take the phones and put them up in the kitchen as this party would be a "No Phone Zone". One girl said I was kind of like Oprah. (!?) Another girl said something about us doing this last year and gladly offered me her phone. Each girl who had a phone handed it right over and a few girls, one who had a phone, and one who did not, even thanked me!

I was talking to my 17 year old daughter about it the next day and she said that the whole texting thing is definitely a distraction and many times a peer pressure thing. She said that sometimes you are sitting in a group and many people are texting and if you are not, you sit there kind of awkwardly and so you get out your phone just so you don't feel so awkward.

This sounded almost unreal to me, but it is the truth of where much of our culture is right now. And navigating it as a mom (or dad) can be confusing and frustrating. But navigate it we must. Our young kids should not take the lead on this, we need to be their guide. We need to create the boundaries because they don't necessarily have it within them to create them on their own. When the crowd moves, most move with it. (I do anyway)

Let's keep talking to our kids about cell phones and texting and expectations and manners; empower them to stand apart from the crowd. Let's help them to be brave, and stand with them when they feel lonely. Let's keep talking to our kids about this.
It's easy to not understand the pressures our kids are under each and every day. Its convenient to judge what they are doing without understanding the culture they move within. We may not have the answers, but remember, our kids don't either...let's walk alongside them in this world of instant technology that can feel oh so captivating.

I'm curious to hear your feedback on this, leave your comments below!


  1. A wonderful idea!! I'm sure it increased the enjoyment of everyone at the party. Our kids need to know that they do not NEED to get every text and tweet the moment it comes in. If someone needs to ask you something important they should call. This goes for parents too. I've gotten sucked right into the texting to communicate with my kids. I don't think it's all it's cracked up to be!

  2. Great Idea it is such a disconnection and seems so impersonal but I can barely do it myself. Our car was smashed in our driveway when the neighbor girl came around the corner and din'dt see our car parked in our driveway because she was texting. I was thankful no one was in the car. Not fun especially when you've hade the car less than 24 hrs. Great idea Sherri I am going to follow suit but for now my children are not old enough to text.

  3. Hey Mom! It's your baby girl =)I liked your post a lot. It's very true, and I'm glad that you try to understand what pressures we go through everyday. You encourage me and talk to me a lot about standing out and not following the crowd, and it has definitly helped. Keep talking to me and keep up your awesome posts!!
    Erin =)

  4. Erin, you are amazing! :)
    Sheri, I love this. I'm not there yet with my own kids, but I asked my nieces to stop using their phones once at a family gathering. They walked through my door - all 3 texting! :/
    I have filed this one...

  5. Can we get this broadcast to all parents nationwide? While I am slowly learning that texting is its own category of communication, I really struggle with the lack of face-to-face and voice-to-voice contact. The only good thing about my daughter's reliance on her phone is that it's a great discipline tool to take it from her!

  6. If you think you mothers have trouble adjusting to a world of texting everywhere, all the time, imagine what it's like for a grandmother! Especially one who only sees her teenage grandchildren a couple times a year (because they live 12 hours away.

    When they were here for their spring break, I made a rule that their phones were plugged in for charging downstairs in the kitchen every night at 10 p.m. because I found out that they were getting texts at all hours of the night! I agree that peer pressure is part of the problem and if an adult sets limits on texting then the teen doesn't have to take the heat themselves -- "Sorry, that's Mom (or Nana)'s rule."

    I totally agree with your recommendation that you keep talking to them about it all the time -- and setting limits. I was amazed that we had to even make a rule "no texting during meals"!

    A well done post about an important and very relevant subject. :)

  7. Sheri, where did you get all of your wisdom? I am impressed with you over and over again. Thanks for being such an inspiration to moms everywhere. Alyson - Arizona

  8. Sandra, I love that you set boundaries with your grandchildren! So many are not doing that. Thanks for leading the way and sharing your experience with us here.

    I will post again about this topic...I just had a conversation with my 10 year old niece about cell phones and it really rather broke my heart when I heard how she is experiencing this world of technology.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  9. Alyson,
    You are kind to share your thoughts. Now that the graduation for my daughter is done I look forward to connecting with the NYC group again - at least via email!


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