A reader writes:
I am 100 percent on board with your indictment of technology for kids. How does a family, however, handle the isolation and loneliness that comes with being “disconnected” from others? My husband and I have flip phones and our four teenagers still have no phones (we homeschool). My husband runs a proxy server at our house and only allows the kids to access a very few select websites on computers mounted to the wall in our family room. He and I use a filter on our password protected computers, but a lot of junk still gets through that we would prefer they not see.
The few people who still bother with us think we are nuts. We are social outcasts, and I really think it has to do with the technology thing. One by one, we have seen good families cave in and get iPads and smart phones for their kids. When we mention the serious problems with this, we get blank stares or they politely change the subject and soon distance themselves from us.
I continuously weigh the social isolation against my kids’ purity and feel we are paying a very heavy price for virtue. Sometimes I don’t know how long we can hold out. My husband was one of a small group of Catholic men who saw this problem brewing on the horizon in the early 1990s and started a small Internet filtering company in 1997. He heard so many sad stories of families destroyed by porn even back then.
This gets to me, and reminds me of the desperate need we have for community. But it has to be a community where all the parents are united in their policy towards smartphones and the Internet. A community is not really a community if it cannot say “thou shalt not” and enforce its standards. I think the overwhelming majority of parents would rather pretend that this is not an issue, because if it is an issue, then the work they would have to do even to begin to address it is too hard.
I’m not saying this from a high-and-mighty position. I’m in this struggle too, raising kids. Advice?