Please never use your phone to be unkind. These shiny black rectangles in our pockets embolden people with the enormous capability to hurt others. The screen lets us hide, lets us be ugly and small in ways that real people can see and feel… but whose experiences of our behaviors we can neither see nor feel. Don’t gang up on people. Don’t send cruel words. Don’t ever take candid pictures of strangers or acquaintances and share them to laugh or judge. Don’t do it at all. Let people enjoy the freedom of occupying space in the world without stealing a rectangle of it for your own enjoyment.
You will be curious about a lot of things in the coming years. Your body. Your sexuality. Your tolerance to alcohol or drugs. It’s OK to ask the magic Google machine in your phone these questions. But it’s better to ask your mom.
Your body is absolutely beautiful and powerful and delicate. It belongs to you. Only you. Please do not use your smartphone to share images of your body with anyone, no matter how much you love the person. I believe that young love is real. I’ve known it. I’ve lived it. I’ve been changed by it. But I am eternally grateful that I never had to make choices about sharing images of my body when I was in the swimmy, aching midst of it.
Try not to do duck lips when you take selfies. And don’t over-edit them. Your selfie game is pretty strong right now, but I see what’s out there. Resist.
I see a lot of what’s out there. Resist.
Don’t get sucked into YouTube all day. It’s gross and annoying. Read books, do crafts, bake, go outside, live a full life.
Your smartphone is not an excuse to be shitty to people. Please don’t do that thing where your little brother is telling you something so utterly important to the lego brick-lined walls of his heart, and you can’t tear your eyes away from your phone long enough to see the magic in his. Don’t bury your nose in your phone when people you love are speaking to you. I’ve done it. A lot. I’ve done it to you. It sucks.
Use more exclamation points in texts than you normally would. Tone is so hard to convey. “Thanks!” makes people feel better than “Thanks.” It just does.
For the first time in your life, you have access to the whole world without me policing you. Be safe. Oh god, be safe.
For the first time in your life, you have access to your friends without my intervention or knowledge. I’ve been abruptly removed from your social equation. I used to text moms and arrange playdates and sit there making painful small talk the whole time you played. I used to reach when you dropped something, pull snacks from my purse, intervene when you didn’t share. And now I’m only going to know what you choose to tell me about your friends and your life. I get it it. You need to start learning how to navigate social situations without your mom always telling you what to say and how to act. But I can tell you what to say and how to act… any time you need me.
I’ll just say it. I’m scared of not knowing you so intimately anymore. I’m scared of how obscured my view will be from the backseat of your life as other people become more important to you in the coming years. I’m scared of how futile it is, trying to protect you from the world when you are already so capable and so hungry. I’m scared of who I’ll be when you’re grown and gone. I taught you how to eat, how to brush your teeth, button your coat, build a snowman, make flashcards, bake pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, braid hair, use a debit card, shave. And now, here you are. Spectacular and brave.
You’re ready. I believe in you. I trust you.
That said, please leave your phone on the kitchen counter every night at 8 p.m.
Signed, fretfully, stubbornly, silently, mistily, of (mostly) sound mind and body,