High Tech Mama

[ 14 ] July 20, 2010 |

By Erin Barrette Goodman

A million moons ago when I was in high school (also know as the late ‘80s / early ‘90s) I went on vacation with my friend’s family. As we got off the plane a man in a business suit whipped out his cell phone and made a call.

“No phone call is that important,” my friend’s stepfather said, rolling his eyes.

I agreed. Absolutely ridiculous.

Fast forward 10-ish years. I’m in graduate school and my boyfriend (now husband) suggests that it might be a good idea for me to get a cell phone. For safety. I’m at school in the city. Often at night.

“It really would be a good idea,” he said.

I agreed.

And for a good long time that’s pretty much all my cell phone was. This thing that I drove around with in my car and carried in my backpack – just in case.

And then somewhere along the way, my mom got one. And my sister. And my aunts. And we all used the same carrier and cell-to-cell calls were free. And suddenly I found myself spending an awful lot of time chatting on my cell phone.

And I watched and laughed as my basic survival skills – like finding another person in a public place – atrophied.

“What did we do before cell phones?” we would laugh as one of us guided the other across a crowded room like an air-traffic controller. “Okay. Do you see me now? I’m wearing a red shirt. To your left. I’m waving at you! Yeah. There. Straight ahead. Okay. Good. I’m hanging up now.”

Absolutely ridiculous.

Every couple of years, when it came time to renew my contract, I would resist the lure of new phone with more bells and whistles. Text messaging. Photo-taking. Internet access. Give me a break.

I just want a phone. To carry around – just in case. To chat with friends and family. And to help me find people in public. That’s it.

And then a few years ago my husband got his first “smart phone” and I discovered the convenience of checking e-mail from anywhere. Pulling up weather.com to see if we had enough time to go hiking before the rain started. Taking photos of the kids and e-mailing them (right from the phone!) to friends and family.

But still I held out with my basic, phone calls only model. (And grumbled a bit when I caught my husband tinkering around with his phone during dinner or at family gatherings.) Until, finally, after being dropped and stepped on a few too many times, my no-bells-and-whistles phone was no more.

And as we started looking into options for a replacement, I found myself saying things like:

I guess it would be nice if it had a decent camera – you know, to take pictures for the blog and stuff. And it might be kind of cool if I could check my e-mail and the weather when I’m out. And I don’t think I’ll really be texting anyone…but a little keyboard would probably be good – just in case.

(You all know where this is going, don’t you?)

Ummm…yeah. I’m two months into my first super-duper, do-it-all phone and I LOVE it! Crazy love it.

I love taking photos when we are out and about and e-mailing them to friends or uploading them to facebook. I love being able to check my e-mail and send a quick reply from anywhere. I love streaming Pandora in the car. And popping onto my favorite blogs for some quick inspiration while the kids romp on a playground.

But most of all I LOVE texting.

I love sending random thoughts to my husband when he is at work without worrying that I am disturbing him. I love being able to send three words to my boss and have him understand that I’m running late but will bring coffee. I love coordinating potluck plans with our friends while shopping at the farmers’ market.

And I love that last week – after being out of touch for far too long – I started texting with my best childhood friend like no time has passed. Back and forth. Just a few words. Total silliness. Our own secret language. Like she’s right there with me.

Absolutely ridiculous. But oh my goodness…SO much fun!!

How about you? What is your relationship with hand-held technology? And how is it working for you? .

Erin Barrette Goodman is a writer, yoga teacher, community organizer and mother of two. When she is not working as the Marketing Director for Pat’s Pastured, a grass-based sustainable farm in Southern Rhode Island, she enjoys sharing her thoughts and photos (many taken with her fancy new phone) on her blog, exhale. return to center.

[Photo credit: John Goodman]

Category: moms, technology


Erin Barrette Goodman

about the author ()

Erin is a multi-media artist, interfaith minister, yoga teacher and passionate builder of community. She is the founder of the Rhode Island Birth Network and the creator and host of Behind the Blog. As a mother of two, she also packs lunches, drives the carpool, and bows to the power of PBS Kids.

Comments (14)

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  1. katy says:

    i love my iPhone, sort of, but i still don’t know why i would text instead of email. is there hope for me?

  2. Kathy says:

    Love the story – not sure I like the technology well maybe it’s not the technology but the fact that people with this technology are always distracted by their technology and are not fully present to the people they are with. I will say it does sound convenient but I think you run the risk of missing out on what is happening right in the same room!

  3. Alexandra says:

    well, it’s not going well, but as the mother of 3 sons, 2 who are teens…i know I can’t stick my head in the sand forever. I must find the time to learn…the time is what Ineed, and a good tutorial.

    thanks for the encouragement.

    Great post, and totally relatable.

  4. Anisa Raoof Anisa says:

    I love my iPhone for it’s convenience and extra features – email, gps, camera and video all in one device. I rely on it more and more for work, play, communication, etc.

    That said I am mindful of turning it off and making time to be present while playing board games, at the dinner table, at the playground, etc. trying to set a good example for my kids. I am not perfect about time limits all the time but I do try to be mindful.

  5. Tricia says:

    No iPhone yet, but I take pics and text with the lower tech phone I’ve got. I get very attached to my phones and I think it has more to do with the frustration I usually experience when trying to learn a new phone that keeps me so attached :-) Still don’t know how to get a pic from my phone to FB and my ability to use FB is currently at “barely functional”. It’s funny I resist the changes in technology and find myself dragged along because I simply don’t want to be too behind the technology times…wonder what will happen when I’m not trying to keep up with my kids!

  6. Marcia M. Fowler Marcia says:

    I still have the oversized plain black- cell phone and changed to pay as you go to save some money. I do miss chatting all morning with friends/family while my son plays in the dirt pile. Thankfully, FB is still free.

    I’m waiting until 2019 to learn all the updated tech gadgets. “Watch out kids. You won’t be able to sneak past Mama in your teen years, even if it means paying more for a service plan.”

  7. Jen S says:

    PLEASE DRIVE SAFELY – MAKE YOUR CAR A NO PHONE ZONE!
    I love my phone and iTouch as well – but I think it’s important to include with an article like this that using cell phones while driving, especially smart phones and applications like texting and email, DISTRACTED DRIVING IS VERY DANGEROUS. Just talking on the phone while driving increases your likelihood of getting into an accident four times – the equivalent risk of drunk driving – and texting raises it far higher!

    As parents, it is important to remember that not only do we have precious cargo in our cars – far more valuable than any phone call, text or photo we could send or read – and that when we are on the road we are guardians of other people’s children’s safety. And as our children’s guardians, we should take care of our own safety as well.

    For more information distracted driving and on making your car a NO PHONE ZONE – you can go to:
    http://www.oprah.com/packages/no-phone-zone.html

  8. amy says:

    It’s just for emergencies. I routinely forgot to even turn it on until my boys started school. I’ll check email or blogs on my husband’s phone first thing in the morning or before bed–it’s useful in case school is canceled, so I don’t have to turn on the computer to get the email, and I like to read blogs with my 2-minute bowl of cereal–but I deliberately did NOT want anything more. I’m always out with at least one kid, and when I’m out with my kids, I’m out with my kids, not stuck in a phone. I feel very strongly about that. Perhaps when they’re older, I’ll feel differently. But even still, on the off chance I get a few minutes at the playground, I’d rather knit than read blogs.

  9. D says:

    So I first read this article on my iPhone while laying in bed this morning. And as a geek, I’m dying to know which smart phone Erin is currently using, not for status reasons, but just curious which phone was worthy of upgrading from a basic phone.
    Personally I’m using a Blackberry (for my day job) and an iPhone 4 (for everythign else), because I want a personal phone, not just a work phone and I love everything the iPhone can do (and I’m a long time Apple user/fan – staring with a Classic).

    I’m glad to see all the comments now and I’m also actively trying not to use a phone while driving.

    Last week I did have the opportunity to truly appreciate having a mobile phone when my car failed and I made 2 conference calls from the car then continued the tow truck while using chat with coworkers for the first half of the day until I got into an office. Made me wonder what I would have done before cell phones, maybe have more time to just think while taking a long walk along the road (although a co-worker did pull over to see if I needed a ride).

    Bottom line, I’m loving my iPhone 4 for the high quality camera, video, email, chat, games, web access, and sometimes even to make phone calls – the calls haven’t been dropping for me. The Blackberry is just a simple tool (even though I know it can do more): phone, email chat, just for work.

  10. Irene says:

    I picked up my iPhone on Saturday night, and, as you probably already guessed (from my FB posts) — I LOVE IT!!! I’m not big on texting too much, but think Pandora is great, and checking my e-mail/FB/Twitter while away from home is a real convenience. I agree with you that taking pics or video and sharing them with friends is a real plus! I’m still learning the features and will be taking a workshop on Friday to get any questions answered at the Apple store. BTW — still have WP questions, so I’ll probably be texting ‘ya;-)

  11. Well… I remain unconvinced. I tend to have a hard enough time being present without such technology. I think the temptation would be too great to resist if I had access to such fun and easy gadgetry. But I’m open to change. Only if I thought the benefits would outweigh the drawbacks. Right now I’m still on the fence about that. Definitely when my children are older and on the go without me I will use one to keep in touch and by then who knows what they will do!

  12. i really appreciate all the different opinions expressed — and in true kidoinfo fashion, all done with such respect!! love it!

    thanks for the info about cell-free cars, jen. very important!!

    i definitely understand what people are saying about phones / gadgets taking us out of the present moment and creating unnecessary distractions.

    but overall, i find that i am actually able to be more present with my family since moving to a smart phone.

    as a mostly self-employed working parent, i am almost constantly thinking about work and what i need to do next — it’s just the nature of the beast (for me at least).

    when i used to have to log on to our desktop computer to check e-mail it really took me out of the moment (and completely out of the room) with my family.

    moving to a laptop helped so that i could do a few work things alongside my kids but still i felt a bit disconnected from what was going on in the room.

    now that i can very easily and very quickly check e-mail / monitor my blog etc. from my phone wherever we are, i find that i am a lot more relaxed and able to focus on the present moment.

    sounds a little wacky, i know. and it is still kind of crazy to me that i am advocating for anything technology-related, but it really is working very well for me!

    all that being said, i know i (and others that i have talked to) have had to come up with my own way to ‘unplug’ — especially since moving to a smart phone. going to yoga and turning my phone off for two hours or purposely leaving it in the car while having lunch with a friend or enjoying a museum with my kids are essential for my sanity!
    :-)

    ~erin

  13. Anisa Raoof Anisa says:

    Well said Erin. I think as get used to these new tech gadgets like smart phones that make our work easier we need to find balance and make rules about how we use these gadgets (especially in the presence of our kids) and remind ourselves that just because we can connect to everyone all the time does not mean we have to connect with everyone all the time. As always I love your honesty Erin.

  14. amy says:

    Erin, I think if I were in your position, I’d get the fancy phone too! The challenge is making the technology–whatever it is–work for us, instead of the other way around. ;)

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