No cell phones were allowed at my child’s prom

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  • My daughter got a cell phone for Christmas last year and is attached to it.
  • Her school said no phones were allowed for the 7th grade dance, and she was fine with that.
  • I was excited that she would have an evening without phones, but also worried about how she would reach me.

Parents, teachers and school administrators know that teens are tethered to their phones. After our high school daughter received hers for Christmas last year, we only saw the top of her head for months.

That’s why it was surprising to see her willingly and without hesitation leaving her beloved phone on the counter when she recently attended a high school dance. But she knew the school policy: no phones allowed. And if she brought it, she had to hand it in on arrival anyway, so why bother? I knew the pick-up time and she knew she could borrow an adult’s phone or use the school phone to call me if she needed to.

So, dressed in a baby blue summer dress with her favorite pearl earrings (and dressed in Nike Blazers – because she’s 13), my daughter excitedly bounced off to spend a few hours with her friends, dancing and singing lyrics to Taylor. Swift and Olivia Rodrigo strike.

She said it was the best night ever

And she did. She danced every song all night and came home breathless and happy, calling the dance “the best night ever.”

When she got home, she immediately resumed her normal activities and started texting and Snapchatting her friends. But between seven and nine that night there was only laughter, music and dancing – and no one had a phone in their hands.

No phones equals real, authentic fun for kids

As a parent navigating a digital world that seems light years away from the world we grew up in, I love this policy. I love that kids who chose to attend the dance lived in the moment for two hours, looking at each other’s faces and having real, authentic fun — not manufactured, filtered fun fit for Snapchat or TikTok.

I love that my teenage daughter had that feeling of magical joy that doesn’t happen often – the kind you feel in the depths of your chest, the kind you remember for a lifetime. I remember when I was 13, having so much fun, dancing with my friends, screaming and singing Whitney Houston’s ‘I’m Every Woman’, I could never imagine a world where we all had a little computer in our hands would have.

She could still reach me if necessary

I shared this policy on social media and received high praise from our school board. But the comments were also flooded with criticism, particularly about children not being able to contact their parents if there was an emergency, such as a shooter, or if they were being bullied or harassed, or felt sick and wanted to leave.

This is an easy solution for the second set of critical comments. Children who hand in their phone can ask for it back when they leave and take it for a ride. They can also ask to borrow an adult’s phone or use the school phone.

However, on the issue of gun violence, I see their point. I fear that my children will have to deal with an active shooter situation every day.

It’s a balancing act: raising children in the digital world and also in a country plagued by gun violence. I want my child to have these authentic, core memories like I did as a child. But I also know that our world is not the same world I grew up in.

An evening without phones is worth the risk

I want my 13 year old to enjoy being 13. I want her to feel free and untethered by a little computer in her hand. And sometimes I want her to feel free and not tied to me.

That means she sometimes leaves her phone at home. And that she will have to face what is happening around her, without me, without me, for two hours, so that she can lose herself in her favorite song. So she can hold her best friends’ hands and sing “Getaway Car” at the top of her lungs. So she can come home and tell me she just had “the best night ever” – even though (or perhaps especially because) none of her dance memories exist online, but instead just a memory in her mind and in her is. heart.

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