Last week my daughter Lucia wrote a persuasive essay for her fifth grade writer's workshop about why 8-11 year olds should have smart phones. Her essay was very persuasive. Among her arguments-- "Parents think their kids are just surfing the internet, but really they are doing important research for their homework assignments." Another one-- "When your child is riding the bus home from school and they need to go to their friend's house to do math homework because they didn't understand it in class, they have to be able to call you!"
Lucia does not have a phone. She's in fifth grade and is basically never alone. The child does not need a phone. When I read Lucia's essay, unfortunately for her, I did not feel persuaded in the direction she was trying to persuade me. I felt more urgently backed into my position of "no phone." All of Lucia's very well thought out arguments pointed to the problem with smart phones for kids AND for adults. The possession of a smart phone enables us to be ON all the time. Homework research becomes immediately available. Finding out who the ninth president was is a must-know-fact in the middle of family dinner. Being in constant contact with family, friends, colleagues, at all times, is possible, even expected.
Today when I was teaching, I had that familiar feeling of gratitude that there are no phones in the yoga room--ever. It's the one place in my life where my phone doesn't exist. Even when I meditate in my quiet basement at 5:00am, my phone is nearby, programmed to ding when my allotted meditation time is over. As I taught, I felt relieved, relaxed, and hopeful to be in a place where my phone will never be.
As a yoga student, being in a phone free space, we are practicing the "anti-busy," reminding our brains what it feels like to not have immediate access to people, facts, music, images. After I taught this morning, I practiced, which meant that I had a full four hours without my phone. I take it for granted that I have this phone free time every day. It's important. It's life saving. It reminds me that my brain is still my brain even without all that stimulation.
I know when I pick Lucia up from school today she will mention a phone. She does it almost every day. She's persuasive and persistent and has not found any of my counter arguments for not having a phone nearly as compelling as her own. But I have a plan. When Lucia brings up her "I need a phone" monologue, I will have a new answer. "Lucia," I'll say, "if you commit to practicing yoga every day, I will consider getting you a phone." Stay tuned for a persuasive essay on why yoga every day is not a good idea.