No Mobile Phones Allowed

"No devices with texting or phoning s'il vous plait!" Early yesterday morning I loaded my daughter on to a coach bound for Folkestone and the onward journey to Northern France, where she will be spending the next week with her school.  Her excitement has been palpable for days.  A chance for her to hang out with her mates and have fun away from home without the usual rules and regulations that dominate her daily life.  She has been on many school trips before, but this one is slightly different....a preparatory email from the French teacher banned all mobile phones, iPods and tablets on the trip.

There are a multitude of reasons for this, but the primary one is that it is a cultural trip intended to improve the pupils' French and Madame did not want them to be distracted by screens.  She is old school and she wants them to interact with each other and their surroundings without electronic gadgets and social media, "It will be good for them, oui?"

My daughter's immediate reaction was one of jaw-dropping horror  "You can't be serious!  Well I don't care what she says I am taking my phone.  How will I keep in touch with my mates back home? What about my Instagram?  I won't be able to post for a whole week!  How will I listen to my music?  I want to watch a movie on the coach journey.  What about taking pictures?  No this is ludicrous, I am taking it...end off!"  

Adamant that I must have misread the email she asked Madame again, only to be disappointed.  Yes, she meant it and if any one dared to break the rule and bring their phone or any other "app device" it would be confiscated.  She advised them to bring board games, cards and seek out old DVD's they could all watch on the coach.

My teenagers are firmly attached to their electronics and can frequently be found multi-screen tasking.  It is nothing for them to be simultaneously watching TV, chatting to a friend over FaceTime, sending a message via Facebook, posting on Instagram and playing Minecraft, whilst chatting to me of course!

I am often asked what my rules on screentime are and truth be told I don't have any other than they must switch off all their devices half an hour before bed and nothing is allowed to stay in their rooms over night but is put in to charge downstairs in my husband's office.  We monitor their usage but we don't prevent it.  Ultimately, they both have lots of interests and lead active lives, so if they have done their homework and their chores, I have come to accept that this is what their generation do to unwind and communicate.

The flip side of this is that whilst I concurred with Madame on leaving phones behind "What a great idea", I also found myself starting to panic.  How would I cope?  My own mother laughed hysterically when I shared my fears and reminded me of my own "electronic free childhood".  Nevertheless, I communicate with my teenagers frequently when they are at school or out with friends day or night.  There is always a text at the very least to say how they are and if I want to I can always plug into "where's my iphone" and instantly track them down.

My teenager's phones have ultimately become my security blanket.  They give me access to 24 hr contact in the event of an emergency and act as a tracking device to calm  my paranoid maternal mind in those moments when I suspect they have been abducted by aliens.

So it is me who is having the real separation anxiety from my daughter's mobile phone this week, not her.  I know my daughter has arrived safely because the school messaging system has told me so, but it doesn't tell me about her...

Who is she sharing a dorm with?  Does she have time to clean her brace properly before they head out for the day?  Has she been putting sunscreen on? Are they remembering to stay in pairs when they get their free time to explore the local town?  At least if she had her phone I could just check.  But as my husband keeps reminding me as I toss and turn every night, the rule is probably there to keep the parents at bay too. These trips are a learning opportunity on more than one level.  It teaches them how to look after themselves, which is all part of growing up and being independent and that has to be a good thing right??  "T'inquiete pas! Don't worry"  said Madame as they headed off.  In the meantime...five days left and counting.

Does your child have a mobile phone?  What do you think about banning phones on a school trip?  How would you feel without contact for a week?  I would love to hear what you think.

*****

It has been a strange week without Teenager No.2 in the house with her constant chatter and as we have been devoid of a means of contacting her the most obvious word to describe my week is "Silence".  Two more days and it will all change.

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21 Comments

  1. July 15, 2016 / 8:31 pm

    Oh gosh I don’t think I could spend this long without my phone. We were having a very similar conversation in work yesterday, where a colleague bans the mobile phone in his son’s bedroom at night, to ensure that he is not on it when he sound be sleeping. It’s difficult from I grew up as a phone was very much a phone. Now it takes photos, stores music, plays games etc, all things that teenagers want to be doing. I can completely understand how you will feel nervous not being in contact with your daughter for that time, I would feel exactly the same if it was my daughter or son. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    • July 15, 2016 / 9:46 pm

      I am the same as your colleague, neither of my kids are allowed anything electronic in their room, all phones, ipads etc are put downstairs overnight and that is non-negotiable. My daughter is home now and she survived and had a great time. #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. July 10, 2016 / 2:36 pm

    It’s so true that it is to keep the parents at bay too as far as I can see…last year my stepson who was 11 at the time, went on a football club trip to Barcelona for a week and no mobile phone were allowed and there was no contact with parents either. The coach went with them and we could email him if we were worried, but were told not to if possible. It also helped reduce home sickness as well as keeping the kids off Instagram I think! It was a tough week, but we just kept telling ourselves that no news is good news and he came back after having the best time 🙂 it’s certainly an odd feeling though! #picknmix

    • July 10, 2016 / 6:25 pm

      All the experts say that we should encourage some disconnection at some point during the week and I have to say if I could get everyone in my household to agree I would. I think in our family my husband would find it the hardest, but surely we could all benefit from a digital detox. Thanks for sharing your experience. #PickNMix

  3. July 10, 2016 / 12:21 pm

    My boys haven’t quite got to the age of mobile phones (5 & 2) but I’m already shocked with how much they know with phones and smart tvs and the likes! I’m not looking forward to the day they’re stuck to a screen messaging but it’ll inevitably happen suddenly overnight – I think it’ll do her some good to have some time out and to be honest I’m sure she’ll get stuck in with their activities that she’ll find something new to pin her eyes and fingers to 🙂 it’ll be good for her.. as for you, well I can only imagine how scary it feels being apart fro that long, I guess you can only hope she adapts well to the challenge ahead 🙂 hope she comes home with a happy, excited attitude rather than moaning about her lack of gadgets 😉 xx

    • July 10, 2016 / 1:47 pm

      I read in an article recently that being online isn’t part of our children’s lives it is their life. Spending time on screens is the norm for our children’s generation, whereas we have had to adjust to a digital world. Nevertheless a limitation on screen time and an absence from it sometimes is healthy….I will be interested to hear what my daughter has to say when she gets back. Thanks for commenting. xx

  4. July 10, 2016 / 9:39 am

    Great post! Hadn’t thought of it from our perspective before. I forgot my phone for a whole day out yesterday and it was liberating! Thanks for sharing! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • July 10, 2016 / 1:26 pm

      How funny…liberating is exactly the word I used to describe it. It’s so easy to become attached to our phones etc but actually sometimes it’s quite nice to have the freedom of no-one being able to reach us. #fortheloveofBLOG

  5. July 9, 2016 / 2:50 pm

    I think it’s great to switch off once in a while and when I was in the hospital I chose to go sans technology. My hubby wondered how I coped but if I wanted to write I had pen and paper. I also had my magazines and colouring book as well as bonding time with the new baby. #WotW

    • July 10, 2016 / 1:24 pm

      It’s so easy to forget how we managed before we had the means to have 24/7 contact with the world. It’s good to go back to basics sometimes and feel liberated. Thanks for commenting Helena. #WotW

  6. July 8, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    You’ve just reminded me. We took 16 – 14 year olds on a GirlGuide trip to Switzerland in 2014. We banned phones. We allowed seperate MP3 players. We were hit by frustration from them but ultimately they agreed with us. Our reasons were many but ultimately we didn’t want a way for them to contact home. Homesicknesses is a thing and speaking to your parent always made it worse, even on a weekend away in the UK. The parents all supported out decsion and it worked well. The arguement of the no camera thing was quashed as we as the adult leaders all agreed to take loads of photos and share them with the girls after. It was a fab trip with no misshaps! Character building for parent and child hey!?? #Picknmix

    • July 8, 2016 / 9:29 pm

      Had never thought about the homesickness angle but you are completely right. When we waved them off last week I was shocked how many of them had not been away before and the anxiety amongst the parents at not being able to speak to them. It made me feel better as my daughter has been away so many times, starting from the age of 7 and because she has always done Brownies and Guides, there have been more opportunites outside of school too. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have nothing but respect for the Guide leaders. #PickNMix

  7. July 8, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    I think it’s a good idea, though I can completely understand the panic on both sides! My oldest is only 6, so we’ve yet to reach the mobile phone stage anyway, but I know that when she goes on residential with school in years 5 & 6, they don’t allow phones or contact with back home as standard policy, which already makes me feel nervous! Enjoy the silence and hope she has a wonderful time x Thanks for sharing with #WotW

    • July 8, 2016 / 7:09 pm

      Yes can’t wait to see how she really found the whole experience of not being able to communicate with anyone online. I will report back with her verdict. Thanks for commenting. #WotW

  8. July 8, 2016 / 4:55 pm

    Great article…such a minefield of unknown territory for us, the first generation of mums to have to deal with all this. #picknmixfriday

    • July 8, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      Oh yes you have a while to go yet. Thanks for reading. #PickNMix

  9. July 6, 2016 / 2:01 pm

    I rhink Madame has a brilliant idea. It is a good idea to have a complete disconnect and have person to person interaction but like you, I would also be fretting about my kids without their phones. It is indeed reassuring to have that instant access to them. I don’t know how I would survive if I am not able to contact my kids but I know it would be good for them. #bigpinklink

    • July 7, 2016 / 8:33 am

      I may have to introduce it as a regular occurrence in the house although I suspect the husband may object the loudest. #bigpinklink

  10. July 6, 2016 / 12:17 pm

    Ooh yes, I completely see both sides to this. Madame is certainly brave! When I had my year 6 school trip, waaaaay before the humble Nokia 5110, we were each allowed to use the hotel reception phone for one call to parents every two days. That worked, but as a parent I can’t imagine having no contact for 48 hours if my child was away with a school or group activity. Being off social media for a week is very cleansing for the soul though! #BloggerClubUK

    • July 6, 2016 / 1:06 pm

      We have had two texts from Madame, the first to say they are there, the second to say the weather is good so I suppose that is better than nothing! When I was young we just sent a postcard home which of course always arrived after you got home. It will be interesting to see how they have all responded to having no social media for a week, although I suspect the first thing my daughter will do is ask for her phone! Thanks for commenting. #BloggerClubUK

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