To BBM or not to BBM…that is the question

The question more likely facing parents is: At what age do you allow your son/daughter to BBM? And once allowed, how often?

For the pre-teen or early teen the question is simply: I want/need a Blackberry and when can I have one. The trump card – which they usually have and therefore often works – is, “But everyone else has one!” What parent wants their child to be left out, the only one in the class not connected to the marvels of modern technology?

Every now and then its good to face down this “you have to have it” demon. At the school where I work a grade 6 teacher, exasperated with the trouble girls were getting into with their cellphones – and out of depth with the dangers they were being lured into – asked this question: “How many of you don’t have a cellphone?” Two hands shyly went up, in a class of 30. 100 house points to each of you, she said, and well done to your parents for resisting the pressure. The two girls instantly soared in stature. Another girl pleaded for house points, claiming she only had an old brick of a cellphone, nothing fancy like a Blackberry. A cellphone is a cellphone said the teacher – no house points.

I recently spoke with a girl who had got into some dodgy and inappropriate communications with boys on BBM. Her punishment was to have her Blackberry confiscated for a few months. So how are you finding life without it, I asked? Great, she said. She felt relieved not having to field messages all day long, and was enjoying the free time this left her with. She found, for example, what fun it was to go to a local morning market not knowing in advance, from the usual flurry of texting, who would be there. It was quite exciting she said, to just arrive and see who was there. She went on. She noted that since she was not in her usual mode, with head down and thumbs dancing over the keys, that she actually noticed what was on display. A particular t-shirt caught her eye.

No doubt, once the Blackberry is returned, she will once again be in its thrall. That it can be seen as a form of addiction is not an exaggeration. Hence the unfortunate nickname “Crackberries.” I hope though that the insight gained in this period of “deprivation” will stay with her.

Parents can be happy with their instinct to curb or limit access to whatever new treat technology has to offer. Firstly, it is not true that “everyone has one”, nor is it true that having it guarantees happiness.

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Published in: on April 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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