I’ve been quite happy with our decision not to have cell phones. I know we’ll get them eventually, but I feel no rush. I’m not saying there aren’t moments when instant communication wouldn’t be handy — there are — but we live a pretty predictable life and those moments are few.
So I had ambivalent feelings about Dave’s idea, about a week ago, to get a couple of ten-dollar, on-clearance smart phones for the kids to play around with. We wouldn’t be getting a plan to go with them; they’d be used purely to connect to our wifi, and the kids could download free games for them. On the plus side, this would (hopefully) quell their insistent desires for cell phones, a topic that arises roughly once a week in our house. On the negative side, they would suddenly have portable screens.
But I have a long-standing policy of not arguing with Dave over technology — it’s probably useless to do so anyway — and so shortly we had cell phones in the house.
And I must admit that, once the initial euphoria passed, the cell phones became less of a big deal. Occasionally one of the boys remembers to take one in the car, in order to while away our long commutes to Village Free School, but they’re little used at home. There is a limit to the entertainment value that can be found, for our game-experienced sons, in the sorts of games you can get for free.
For Mica, though, this is less true. The cell phones are actually very well geared toward a two-year-old. The interface is a touch screen, which is helpful to her since she is still a bit sketchy with a mouse. And the free games that can’t hold a seven-year-old’s attention are actually about right for her.
In particular she likes Pou. Pou is a little blobby creature that lives on the phone, and who needs occasional feeding, sleep, medicine, etc. There are also tiny sub-games involving Pou that mostly involve tapping the screen at the right time. Mica is terrible at this but still goes back to try roughly once a day. “Aw, I died!” I heard her little voice say from the other room today, followed by, “Dammit!” (I’ve needed to have multiple conversations with the boys about not passing on taboo language to their sister.)
So I still have ambivalent feelings about this endeavor. But I comfort myself with the knowledge that, if it becomes necessary, any toy can conveniently “break.”