I stayed plugged in and I liked it

I found out this morning that this past Friday was the second annual National Day of Unplugging. Ironically, I am off Fridays, so I didn’t check Google Reader, so I missed the note.  I remained plugged in all day.

This does have me thinking, though, about unplugging during Lent.  I won’t unplug through the entire season, but should observe an unplugged day each week. As I type this I am already parsing the exact meaning of this, and think I will allow phone usage, and text messaging, but will refrain from internet connection.

Do you think this is a cop-out on my part?

7 thoughts on “I stayed plugged in and I liked it

  1. Some of us can’t totally unplug and do our jobs. It’s a form of “the ox is in the ditch.” I personally would not be able to take 6 weeks off from working on my dissertation and meet deadlines.

    Another interesting thing to consider: A few years ago, I realized I had all the symptoms of mild narcolepsy that fluctuates with certain life variables (excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, hypnogogic/hypnopompic hallucinations, cataplexy). I use TV to provide myself with extra cortical stimulation while working at the very solitary task of dissertation research. The idea that I NEED extra cortical stimulation was confirmed for me when I took the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task last year and made an unusual error for somebody who functions at my usual level … the room was quiet and without distractions. It gave more credence to some teenagers’ claim that they study better with the music on!

    On the flip side though … I am curious about whether I have created this need, and whether even with my (now diagnosed) narcolepsy I could eventually train myself out of this need.

    Peripherally, I would really like to see you post on your opinion about the effect of cell phones and texting on teens’ sense of being part of a family system. Doug and I have seen a huge improvement in our relationship with one of our teens, once that teen had the cell phone taken away. The other teen still at home got a cell phone much earlier in life than our others … and I see the impatience with family obligations coming out in this teen. With the others, I thought it was just normal teen pulling away. Now I’m wondering. We are considering installing a landline in our house, although it will be more expensive than our current arrangement, and cancelling the remaining teen cell phone. It’s not that we don’t want them to have any contact with peers. It’s just that the use of cell phone (anywhere, anytime as opposed to the restrictions of a house phone) and texting (totally silent, hard to even perceive its happening, intrusive on any other activity) is disruptive in a silent, hard-to-put-your-finger-on way.

    I know that this question is peripheral to your post … but still related. I’m very curious to hear your opinion on this, from the standpoint of someone in youth ministry.

    • Very good question, Kim; one I haven’t dealt with personally for a while, and won’t again for a while (though I have already been wondering at what age it will become expected for Eliza to have a cell phone…)

      On the topic of youth and cell phones, I begin from the position that we adults HAVE TO model appropriate boundaries with our own cell phones for them. If we show no self control yet harp on them for their lack of the same, we have already lost the battle.

      Perhaps (here a combination of Dave Ramsey and Love & Logic kicks in) youth may be ready to have a cell phone when they are ready to pay for it?

  2. Well, from the standpoint of modelling what we want to see in our kids, I guess my question wasn’t quite so peripheral to your post.

    One of the major problems with the technological explosion is that it has created exponentially more fields that parents must monitor … and last time I checked, kids at the most have two parents (often only one) which is no different than our Stone Age counterparts. One argument for setting a “no-cell-phone” policy would be that it simplifies our jobs as parents … and before somebody says that that is a bogus reason, I submit that parents are only human and sometimes we too are on overload.

    It’s kind of like when you are on a diet … don’t bring the chocolate chip cookies into the house at all. That way you are not having to make a million decisions all day NOT to have them. You make one decision at the store and that’s it.

    • I am COMPLETELY with you on the diet/cookies analogy, except for this: Rachel and I practice that rule with far more than just “junk” food. We buy low fat or no fat almost everything. Eliza, on the other hand, NEEDS fat in her diet, so we may come to the place that we have to exhibit our own self control in ways that we don’t want our child to do so.

  3. While I don’t think it’s “possible” for me to unplug – for lent I like to drive with no radio or cds. The silence allows my mind to go to new and deeper places. I get new perspectives on old things – I remember events – I make discoveries about myself. It’s boring at first, I guess, but it turns into something almost meditative.

    • Good idea! I have noticed times when I almost instinctively turn on the radio if I am driving alone.

      I may even expand the silence to include while I am running.

  4. I don’t think it’s very hard to get all the fat a baby needs in her diet … keeping real butter in the fridge for her toast and cereal, maybe buying a separate carton of whole milk for her, and you’re probably covered.

    For our older three children, we did not get them a cell phone until they got their drivers’ license. Which, not coincidentally, is the same age that they could potentially get a job and pay for it themselves. However, #4 is only 13 and we got him a cell phone when we decided not to install a land line in our new house. We are now questioning that decision. Certainly it made economic sense (our cell phone package added the extra phone for the same price), and there is a certain security in knowing we can reach him and he can reach us at all times.

    Throughout the years, we have seen kids as young as kindergarten with cells in their backpacks, and there were quite a few of them by third grade. I think that generally the purpose of giving your kids a cell phone that early, is part of the “helicopter parent” phenomenon … parents want to be able to access their kids at all times, and to be accessible at all times. It is no surprise to me that when we took our oldest son to Tech, we heard that “this is the most parent-dependent generation we have ever seen. It is not unusual for students to be on the phone with a parent 5 or 6 times a day.”

    I don’t think dependency is the same thing as closeness … I see kids with an unrealistic view of what it means to be “independent.” They want to make all their own decisions, and they also want to be able to send their parents the virtual or actual bill. I don’t think this is SOLELY a phenomenon of cell phones, but I do think that cell phone usage illustrates the problem. Cell phone use can be 1) totally private communication that fosters a false sense of autonomy, and 2) a way to avoid solving your own problems, when you can instantly and continuously access your parents.

    Even kindergartners can learn that if you forget your library book at home, there are consequences … and I’m not sure that slipping a cell into their backpack so that we can be at their beck and call is good for them.

    Wow, I’ve obviously had a lot of coffee this morning :).

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