Sunday, 10 February 2013

Parenting by text

Imagine it's the 1950s. Mum in the kitchen, waving her children off to school. I would think most of the conversation between loving mum and offspring hasn't changed much. Have you got your bag, books, pencils? Have you remembered your lunch? Kit for PE? But there's a new addition to the list for many mothers nowadays.
"Have you got your mobile/cell/handy phone?" ( delete according to your country of origin!)
In the madmumof7 household this question is only directed at my secondary school age kids who have to catch a bus to school in the next town and sometimes miss the bus, decide to meet with friends after school or have after-school clubs or occasionally even the odd detention! For these unexpected variations to their day I find it comforting to know they have mobile phones to hand to keep me fully appraised of their whereabouts.
English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволю...
English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволюция мобильных телефонов (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I do know families who arm their primary age children with mobile phones- and I am embarrassed to admit one of my younger offspring is soon to be one of this growing sector of the market after we saw a phone/radio/mp3player/camera in a sale for £3.25! I don't expect the recipient to use it as a phone for a few years but it's something the child has desperately wanted and I figured if that child only used the camera and gained valuable boasting rights in the playground it was worth £3.25!
Of course we didn't need them when we were young. I just walked home if I missed the bus, and I presume my mum was smart enough to guess that's why I was later than normal.
But an explosion in media means we see minute by minute details of abductions, rapes and murders and get to see the crime sites, anguished parents pleas and heartbreaking pictures of the missing children in HD. This give the impression that the world is a more dangerous place and our parental anxiety levels have risen accordingly.
Oddly part of me is still in 1950s mode and I worry more about my daughter than my sons. So her phone is always topped up when I might let her brothers phone credit lapse! This can be expensive as she is as much of a chatterbox as me.
So, we've established that our home is overflowing with a variety of phones ( largely hand me downs from friends and family) which added to the older children's iPods which can send messages has highlighted a new style of parenting.
Kids out playing on the green? No longer do I need to bellow out of the front door like a fishwife. I text them. Out for dinner with friends and want my electric blanket turned on? Send off a Viber or Skype (VoIP ) message. Can't find wandering teens in the department store or supermarket when you are looking at cushions and they've headed for the DVD section? I call them and tell them I am in aisle 12.
This works quite well with most children except DS#2. Who despite being a whizz with most technology (he could rewire a toaster to turn it into a time machine if he put his mind to it ) doesn't like mobile phones and largely doesn't remember to charge one or take one with him. This leads to me texting his long suffering friend quite regularly to ask where my son is!
And the habit is spreading. I love my bed and will take any opportunity for an early night. Nothing's nicer than being tucked up under the duvet, electric blanket on, TV on, packet of biscuits ready to eat. Ah. Forgot to bring a drink up. Do I get up, go downstairs and fetch my own? Or do I shout and hope someone hears me? No- I send a plaintive text and hope the recipient takes pity on me and brings me what I want.
I even talk to my mum from my bed from my phone or ipad through the magical media of FaceTime so we can share joys and woes over a coffee break even across the miles. So she's effectively parenting by mobile too.
Let me know what you think of this new era? Are you anti-mobile and happy to keep yelling " tea's ready!" into the street or are you like me- never without your phone, even in bed? Post comments below!

DS#3 
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