Jake Frost discusses his family's continued battle over electronics.
A funny thing happened in our family over the weekend.
We’re in a constant battle over electronics. In particular: the kids want phones. Everyone has one, or so I hear (at least from the middle schoolers; my second and fourth graders say that kids in their classes have phones, too, but apparently they are not so ubiquitous in the primary grades as they are in sixth and eighth grade).
And when it’s not phones, it’s pleas for more screen time. When we first got tablets, they seemed a good addition to the family dynamic: Math Tower, Stack-the-States, and Geography Drive; the kids enjoyed the games, they were educational, and it made for some quiet time in the day.
But man, the screen monster is hungry: it seeks ever to devour all else.
To try to keep it in check my wife and I have had to get highly intentional, sometimes it even seems to verge on scrupulosity, to hold the line on screen time: how, when, where, and for how long. There are lots of strings attached to electronic use in our Homely House—and it seems the kids are always tugging at those strings in never ending efforts to stretch the boundaries.
Especially when it’s time to collect the tablets again when screen time is over.
But the hassle is worth it.
It doesn’t take long once the electronics have been stored away for the day for the kids to move on to other things, and it’s fun to see them playing together. Over the winter there’s been lots of sledding in the yard, snow-fort building, boardgames like Battleship and Farkle, and activities of their own design—lately the of building leprechaun traps for St. Pat’s Day has already commenced.
And this weekend the kids reached into the way-back machine to pull out something I haven’t thought of in years.
We had crummy weather, rainy and 34 degrees, with all the snow getting soggy and gray. So the kids stayed in and started experimenting with paper cups and string.
Do you remember making phones out of those?
I hadn’t seen them in years, but one of the kids suggested it to the others and soon there were strings stretched all over the house with people whispering into cups.
I had to get in on the action myself. And I have to say, even all these years later, string-and-cup phones are still pretty cool.
It was while watching the kids holding cups to their ears and seeing their eyes light-up when a message came in loud and clear over the line stretched down the hall that I suddenly realized with a laugh: the kids finally got their phones!
Parenthood has its battles, but its moments of levity, too. Life is good!
Copyright 2023 Jake Frost
About the Author
Jake Frost is a husband, father of five, attorney, and author of seven books, including the fantasy novel The Light of Caliburn (winner of an honorable mention from the Catholic Media Association), collections of humorous family stories ( Catholic Dad and Catholic Dad 2), poetry (most recently the award winning Wings Upon the Unseen Gust), and a children’s book he also illustrated, The Happy Jar.