Harry Wong
Dec 2017
Vol 14 No 4

Drop the Call by Naomi Schaefer Riley, Author of Be the Parent, Please

By Teachers.Net News Desk

Excerpted from Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat. Published by Templeton Press. (c) 2018 Naomi Schaefer Riley. 

When it comes to technology, parents must examine not only how they want their children to relate to the devices or how much of their time they want kids to spend texting or emailing or gaming or surfing. They need to decide something more fundamental—how their children are going to interact with the rest of the world.

It is not an exaggeration to say that giving your kids a cellphone is giving them the keys to the kingdom. There is a whole world out there that they can now access without your knowledge. That world, which will be constantly beeping at your child, will forever change him or her. It may change how your child views friendships, how he or she interacts with the outdoors, how he or she experiences time alone.

When we hand over phones and tablets to children, we are likely to be changing not only the information they can access but also their habits, their personalities, and their tastes. And while they may see their online life as a privilege — if not a right — we should also be honest enough to understand it as a burden. For the sake of our own convenience and their entertainment, we are giving up their freedom and perhaps even some of their happiness.

Tips for Cutting Back

Buy your child a watch and teach him or her how to use it. You may think that you need your kid to have a phone in order to arrange pickups and drop-offs, but you don’t. Agree to meet at a time. You are not Uber. If something goes wrong, teach your child how to ask the adult present to contact you.

Play the memory game. If you’re tempted to give kids technology because you can’t figure out how else they would entertain themselves or communicate with you or their friends, ask yourself how you did it as a kid. The answer won’t always be the right one, but it will give you perspective.

About the Author:
Naomi Schaefer Riley is the author of Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat (Templeton Press, 2018). She is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Wall Street Journal editor and writer whose work focuses on higher education, religion, philanthropy and culture. Her book, ’Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America (Oxford, 2013), was named an editor’s pick by the New York Times Book Review. For more information, please visit


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