SZ Connect: Helping Community Singles Split the Sea

Past Articles:
ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE ‘NO PHONE CHALLENGE’?

By: Helen Gindi



I didn’t think I would have the guts to do it, but I did it.

My 13-year-old son asked to have his friends over on a Sunday. I told him he could have as many friends as he would like, on one condition: no phones. This answer was not a surprise to myson, since he knows how much I despise kids’ attachment to their phones. My son was still interested in inviting his friends, so I explained again, either he’s going to have to ask them to put away their phones once they come, otherwise I’ll say something, as nicely as possible, without embarrassing him.

The Moment of Truth

We both understood the tough position I put him in and what the stakes were for his reputation, yet he chose to take that chance and invite them anyway. Ten big boys piled into the house, all of them way taller than me. My husband and I, along with my other children, were hanging at home since it was a cloudy day, and we gave the group of friends their space. It didn’t take long for all these boys to sit lined up along the couch, each one on his phone, playing whatever game was popular for that minute. I called my son over to the side and reminded him of our conversation. He sighed, but knew that it was inevitable, so he asked if I would be the one to tell the boys something instead of him.

I went inside and came back with a pail (closest thing I had to a bucket), looked at my husband – and with his encouragement to go for it – I did. I asked the boys for their attention, told them
how happy I was to have them in my home. I added, however, that if they wanted to stay they would have to put their phones into the pail and figure out something else to do. I think I was more surprised by their compliance than they were of my request. One by one they dropped their phones in the pail and looked at each other as if to say: now what? My husband, who is an extremely involved and devoted father, offered to organize a game of slap ball for them. They all said sure. I stopped my son on his way outside and complimented him on his bravery and told him I love him. I texted all the mothers letting them know that their sons’ phones were put away, and if they needed to reach them to please call me.

A Happy Ending

Six hours later, the day was slowly ending, after games of slap ball, football, and a competitive basketball tournament. I was pleasantly surprised when each of the boys, individually and on their own, thanked me for the day and asked if I can leave the pail on the mantle for the next time they come over. They played like kids are supposed to be playing – and they loved it. I loved it. As they started to leave I returned their phones, and the last few who remained went to the front porch and began to pray minha. The day had every opportunity to be a failure or a success, and it couldn’t have gone any better. My husband and I were pretty impressed with the boys, and even more so when our son came over to us and said thank you and that this was his best day ever. Like I said, I didn’t think I’d have the guts to say it but I’m certainly glad I did.

Call to Community Parents

Now I can end my letter here and feel content that people can appreciate and smile at my story (hopefully). However, I have higher hopes. I am encouraging all parents out there to slowly remind kids to enjoy the pastimes we once did. I know that I’m not in this alone and that many of us are struggling with the same obstacles regarding kids with their devices. However, one story will not change the community’s aspirations. As much as I am determined to show my child and his friends that there is a world beyond the screen in their hands, I cannot do it alone. With the help of Hashem, I hope that my child will excel even in a world where he is constantly challenged with technological addictions, and I pray that whoever shares the same hopes will have the same guts I had that summer day.