Worried about giving your child a smartphone (and with it, access to the internet, social media, texting and more?) Could getting a landline be the answer? One mama investigates with her tween!
Remember the good ole days when you sat in a swivel chair or beanbag with your feet in the air, twirling your phone cord while talking to your best friend? Or breathing into the phone with someone on the other side while watching a TV show together. No talking, just watching? No? Then you must be a lot younger than me!
The thing I remember the most from when I was my daughter’s age, the tween years, was chatting on the phone with my buddies. And reading Nancy Drew novels every Saturday in my bed.
There’s something nostalgic about the way things used to be. We reminisce about the good old days, assuming they’ll never come back. Nothing will be “that way” again. And usually we’re okay with that. After all… we’ve progressed. Things are better now than ever before. We have all the technology to help us be more efficient and interact with each other in a variety of ways. And yet, our world is filled with so many things… so many material things… that it feels quite cluttered. Sometimes it even feels a little claustrophobic. All the apps on your phone with all of their notifications and dings and different ring tones! So many things vie for our attention and distract us from developing deep and lasting relationships or accomplishing lifelong goals.
Remember when people used to have good long conversations or read a book for hours or watched a whole movie without interruption? Of course these activities still happen, but often they’re strewn with pings and dings. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone where you didn’t check your phone at least once? When was the last time you watched a whole movie without any interruption? Without looking to see what time it was or if someone texted you or to check the latest number of Covid cases for the day?
Read more: I Regret Giving My 10-Yr-Old a Phone
It seems almost impossible to sit still these days and really enjoy something. We’re fidgety and wiggly and our minds race in a million different directions. We’re training ourselves to have short attention spans, and raising our children to do the same. So maybe all this new technology isn’t the best. Maybe it’s hurting our lives more than helping. I say we go back to old school ways! Turn the phones off… at least sometimes. And remove the distractions! That’s one way to move back in time a bit.
Here’s another suggestion… Bring back the landline! Now before you roll your eyes and scoff at this suggestion, hear me out!
Is bringing back the old-fashioned landline the answer?
My husband and I have been talking and joking about getting a landline for a while now. I’ll admit, I love social media, but he is so tired of it and is rarely, if ever, on it. He’s also tired of calls getting dropped when there’s bad reception, and just the general distraction and need for him to be immediately available at all times. We talked even more about bringing the landline back after all the trauma and drama we faced after giving our tweeny a cell phone and taking it away and giving it back and finally taking it away for good. (You can read about that in my last article here!)
While we don’t want her on all the social apps like TikTok and YouTube and SnapChat, we do want our super social girl to be able to chat with her friends. We have no problem with that! It’s just that it’s nearly impossible to get a dumbed down phone that doesn’t have all the features on it. So when we switched Internet carriers recently, and they offered a free landline number along with the package, we jumped at the opportunity.
You want to be social? OK, then TALK!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but younger generations are terrible conversationalists! (Of course, not all of them, I’m being dramatic.) But why are they so bad at conversations? Social media. All the problems in our world go back to social media. I’m joking… sort of.
So! My husband bought two cordless landline phones. And currently my twelve-year-old daughter is entering her friends’ phone numbers into one of the phones that she’ll keep in her room. Pressing a button one or two or three times to get the correct letter! (Remember that?) It’s really enjoyable and hilarious watching her use old school technology.
Have you seen this YouTube video of teens trying to use a rotary phone? It’s priceless!
Learning to have real conversations
This might be the most brilliant decision we’ve made as parents to date! And I’m not sure why we didn’t do it sooner. She called her nana right away and talked to her for 20 minutes! Just talked. No Facetime or emojis or distractions. Just voices sharing a conversation with complete sentences and thoughts. It’s bizarrely beautiful!
It’s also a win-win situation. She can talk to her friends as much as she wants without any fear of anyone sending weird messages or photos to each other.
Side note: Remember my other article ‘I Regret Giving My 10-Yr-Old a Phone‘ where I mentioned the boy who was asking her to send photos of her feet? I deleted his number, etc. But of course she managed to get him back on my phone. And he was asking her to send photos again. But I’d already talked to her about how weird that was and why in very clear, straightforward language. And I just happened to see a text she sent to another friend that said, “J*** is being creepy again.” Woo hoo! Good job, baby girl! She actually listened! The point of this side note is that your kids do hear you even if they don’t act like it. TALK to them and tell them all the things in very clear details! Don’t be weirded out or embarrassed by the awkward topics. They need to hear it from you in explicit detail. Not subtle hints!
Back to why the landline is so great…
Staying social with no downsides of a smartphone
My tween can also talk to her friends without the threat of saying something in a text that no one would ever say out loud. There’s not even Facetime, which can also lead to inappropriate behavior and a focus more on how you look on the camera than what you’re saying to your friends. She also won’t be borrowing my phone nearly as much, which will make me a happy camper too! I pretty much do everything on my phone… schedule appointments, research information, look up recipes, write notes and thoughts for these articles, etc. And any time she has it, chatting away with her buddies, I lose precious time getting my to-do list done. And my hair turns greyer as I wonder what exactly she’s doing on my phone!
Does the landline solve all the problems? Of course not. But it is a step in the right direction. A step that means remaining social and in touch with people without any of the other dangers that come along with a smartphone. Obviously in a city like Singapore where kids are very independent and travel to school and other activities on their own, it makes sense to have a phone they can take with them so that they can communicate with you.
I get that. But perhaps the smartphone is turned in when they come home and the landline used if they want to communicate with friends. It’s an idea… a suggestion… and one that is working well in our home. Maybe you could give it a try in yours!