Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone. ~Steven Spielberg
Kyle’s had a cell phone for a little over a year now. It’s nothing fancy, no smartphone but it works to send and receive calls and text messages, perfect for a twelve-year old.
However, Kyle loves my iPhone! He has for as long as I’ve had one, and he’s been itching to get his hands on one too. Right before I got the iPhone 5, Kyle looked at me with wide eyes suggesting that I should give him my old one and I get the new one. Great thinking kid, but NO! At the time Kyle was eleven. To be honest I thought about it, putting the extra cost aside, which was a big factor considering I knew how much data time Kyle would use; and putting aside the security I would need to put on the phone similar to his iPod to try and remove inappropriate content from reaching Kyle’s eyes and permanently taking up space in his mind; I was stopped at the idea of Kyle getting everything he wants and having too much.
Yes, the later really weighed in on me. It’s not that I don’t want Kyle to have everything and every opportunity in the world, because I do and yet I don’t. I want him to appreciate what he has and work toward better, like life should be. It shouldn’t just be a hand out, especially for no reason. That’s a huge lesson in itself that even adults have a hard time accepting. I want Kyle to be better, to be a better person.
At the time of my phone purchase, it wasn’t his birthday or a special occasion and Kyle hasn’t impressed me with all his volunteer work (meaning none, except being an alter boy at church) nor has he gone out of his way to be an exceptional child. Not that he’s a bad kid, absolutely not! He’s a great kid, but again I want him to learn these lessons now to be an even better adult. Nope, all reasons for my decision not to give him his own iPhone.
Granted, I know other children, probably younger than Kyle have smartphones. Great! That’s none of my business nor do I care. I’m sure the parents have their reasons, like I have mine and I’m happy for the child. However, in my particular case, it was not going to happen, at least not yet. Did Kyle did mention about his friends who have iPhones? You bet that stinker did, and he tried to sell me on the idea that he already knows how to work one. Yes, it’s true not the reasoning, as I tried to explain. Honestly, that single comment about his friends brought a smile to my face, not because I’m a cynical person, which sometimes I am, but because it helped and continues to help me teach Kyle.
What are these lessons? Simply humility, Kyle doesn’t have to have the best and flaunt it (not that he really does); patience, good things come to those who wait; appreciation, so he never takes what he has for granted, which he does like most kids, so I feel this is a much needed lesson; adaptability, learning to use what you have at ground level, if you can do that you can work with anything; minimalism, I didn’t want to clutter Kyle with too many electronics, even though it’s too late. The list goes on and on. I want to give Kyle an opportunity to live life and enjoy it for what it is, not through the eyes of electronics. I don’t want him to be the person who is only focusing on his or her smartphone that they don’t pay attention to their children crying for their attention or the world around them and truly missing life, or the man who literally walked into a bear while texting. (Yes it was caught on camera somewhere. A bear was running a muck in a neighborhood and they needed to tranquilize it and the guy was so focused on texting he ran into it then quickly ran away.)
Please don’t mistake my opinions and dissertation for a hatred toward mobile devices, because it’s not. I love my phone and I use it probably too often. I also love being able to call or text Kyle and reach him whenever, except when it’s not charged or when he’s playing video games. However, if he wants something he will call and call and call and text and text and text till he reaches me.
Then, there are those cases when the phone gets Kyle in trouble. Yes, this one is really not Kyle’s fault. This one comes straight from Kyle’s mold, his Aunt Nikki. A few weeks ago, trusty old Aunt Nikki decided to call Kyle in the middle of the day, thinking he was home from school due to the snow. Guess what? He wasn’t, he was sitting in the middle of class when his phone rang. I asked Kyle why he didn’t have it turned off and he confessed, “I thought I did, I must have sat on it and it turned on.” I totally believe the kid because nothings worse to him than getting in serious trouble with authority figures, especially being sent to the principal’s office. He did the dreaded walk down the hall into the unknown trouble, giving that kid the worst anxiety. Kyle said, “We were just about done with class when the phone rang and I knew it was Aunt Nikki!”
What did Aunt Nikki have to say? She laughed and called me to tell me she got Kyle in trouble. It’s true, I did giggle along with her, knowing how devastated Kyle was over the situation and knowing he doesn’t like to break rules and get in trouble, but it was all in good fun. Nicole said the next time this happens, Kyle gets detention. Boy that will just kill him! Sorry bud, but that was funny!
Now for a positive note regarding Kyle’s cell phone. Keep in mind most of my pictures and video of me and Kyle, as well as records of his daily life are streamed from my phone keeping friends and family updated on the package. Good thing! There are also so many, many more great reasons for Kyle to have a cell phone, especially in his particular case. I won’t get into all that but I would like to share a funny story that had me cracking up!
About a month ago, Kyle had a youth group meeting at Sacred Heart School for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group. They asked the parents and guardians to be there because they were discussing major events that involved all parties. As they were throwing around ideas and discussing them, they were asking for volunteers to spearhead specific items. I did volunteer to for a specific job. After it was discussed and agreed upon, I heard my phone beep with a text message. Knowing it could be anyone for Thrill of the Hunt, my clients or my family, I looked down to see one Mr. Kyle Piper’s name across the screen. Sitting across the room from me was that little critter smiling while holding onto his phone. The text read, “That means u.”
While the meeting was going on, I busted out laughing and looked right at Kyle. He gave me an ornery look with this cute little mischievous grin. I was smiling from ear to ear, now not paying attention to the meeting and getting sucked into his silliness. Naturally, I began to text him back. It was seriously so much fun and worth the distraction. It was our own inside joke that humored both of us equally. Love that little man! Sometimes his communication skills scare me and sometimes he has the best personality and is so quick witted.
I guess with everything there is good and bad, all depending on the user and the intent. Everything in moderation, taking away extremes helps to create a full and balanced life. Like it or not, cells phones are here to stay.