My 9-year-old cheerfully informed me that his teacher gave the class of fourth graders permission to bring electronics on the bus en route to their distant field trip this week. “People are all bringing DSes or ITouches,” he declared, his eyes getting more round and serious the more he saw I wasn’t going for it.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in computer equipment being manhandled, dropped or lost by 60 tweens ran through my mind. The same aged kids who couldn’t even remember to tie their shoelaces were bouncing merrily along on a packed yellow bus, oblivious, with half a dozen mini computers being crushed under foot.
“No,” I said, instinctively.
“But, Mom, they’re ALLLLL going to have one! They will laugh at me for not bringing mine,” he pleaded.
I called a classmate’s mother, and she concurred that the teacher did indeed say electronics were OK for this field trip.
His hand held game device, which is under lock and key, is only brought out under special circumstances, like on Friday afternoons for one hour or for especially long car trips. I have discovered it also serves as an especially juicy carrot, dangling the promise of play if all his chores are done, for instance.
“Ok, you can take it,” I said, “but if you lose it, I am not buying you another one.” And then I added for extra gravity, feeling a little guilty for doing so, “And Santa might not even bring you anything for Christmas if you lose it.” Silence.
“Do you still want to bring it?”
“No,” he declared.
I’d like to think it wasn’t my threats, but his own conscience telling him what would be best. Just last year I bet he would’ve agreed to take it even if it was encrusted with jewels and he was hiking Mt. Everest.
What made me frustrated was that I had to be put in the position. I am sure the teacher said OK to them to have a quieter ride- and it’s not just our teacher, others have agreed to it too, I am finding. A high school principal who is a friend of ours said, “Everybody’s got hand held phones, Ipods, etc.”
But 60 young kids, not high schoolers, with only a few adults to supervise? Not to mention the cost of such “toys,” what about content not suitable for kids for 2 hours? Who would know as they’re lurking in the back of the bus watching YouTube videos?
I offered my son my music player as consolation. “No,” he said tearfully. “I might lose it.”
“This is only the beginning of peer pressure,” I explained. “That’s the feeling that everyone is doing something and you want to do it too to be like everyone else.”
This was our first real dance with peer pressure… I told him I was proud.
I also want to see if he really, truly, was the only one who didn’t bring a game device on the bus, and if so, then that’s another topic.
Last year I wrote a piece about the dilemma many parents face in Kids and Electronics. Check it out.