When we bought a cellphone for our son, we worried. We worried about how it would affect his brain to be hooked into social media all the time. We worried about online bullying and if he’d be respectful and responsible. We worried that he’d become a video screen monster who never looked up and only grunted in response to our questions about his day at the dinner table.

My middle daughter, age 13, read the novel The Outsiders last year. She loved it, and like any good mom who was raised in the 1980s, I bought her a DVD copy of the classic movie. She loved the film version, too.

Our son turned 15 last month, and we’ve had plenty of wary, nervous comments since then about how driving is just around the corner. Next year, he’ll be getting his beginner’s licence! Just 11 more months before he’s behind the wheel!

We have a few smartphone rules in our house: no phones after 9:30 p.m., no phones at the dinner table or other family events, and no phones in bedrooms.

As a kid, did you ever hide a flashlight under your pillow? Then pull it out after you were supposed to be asleep, so you could sneak in another half-hour of reading?

I did that. A lot.

We got a new tech toy at Christmas this year – a Google Home. I must admit, I’d only learned that such a device existed a couple of weeks before I ordered one as a gift for my husband. I wasn’t sure what it would do or how we would use it, but it seemed like fun and it was on sale, so I picked one up.

Well, it happened: we had a parenting fail when it comes to technology.

As a family, we’re watching a lot less advertising these days – at least, I thought we were. That’s because most of our family watching is on Netflix, which has no commercials, and the few shows we watch on regular TV are recorded in advance and ads are skipped over. I can easily go months without being aware of what new movies are coming up, which new developments have occurred in the world of toothpaste, and what new packaging strides Coke and Pepsi have made.

In a house full of Lego, board games, basketballs and sidewalk chalk, it’s amazing how quickly boredom can set in. The magical screen seems to fix all – it’s like a siren song, constantly calling them, beckoning them with its flickering blue light.

I’ve recently become the chauffeur for my son and his group of friends, as they go to for a weekly gaming afternoon/hangout at one boy’s house. It’s clear that my role as the driver is to be invisible – they talk and goof around with each other in the car as if I’m not there, and if I do interject in their conversation, there’s a moment when they all freeze, confused as to where this voice from above came from, before ignoring it and carrying on. I’m there to hover on the outside, not to get involved.

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