American Phones, American Cars

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Over at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher responds to the horrors of Virginia with a discussion of how he hasn’t yet let his children have cell phones–which is fine–I wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies till high school. Dreher writes:

I don’t have the time or the skills to monitor everything my kids would get into on their smartphones, if they had them, and access to social media. But you know what? Why should I. They are nine and 12 years old. They have no business with smartphones, Instagram accounts, Facebook, Snapchat, and all the rest. They are not ready for those things. I certainly would not have been at that age. You give your kids a smartphone with access to the Internet and social media, you are handing them grenades.

I am curious what sorts of things Dreher’s parents, and people of my grandparents’ generation, would have or actually did ban/abstain/limit/withhold/censor from their own children? Was it the keys to the car? As geographer Yi-Fu Tuan has recently pointed out in Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America (2014):

The closest thing Americans have to an identity card is their driver’s license—a card that gives them license to drive into the blue yonder and there discover who they are and can be.[1]



[1] Tuan, “Place/Space, Ethnicity/Cosmos: How to be More Fully Human” Why Place Matters. Edited by Wilfred M. McClay and Ted V. McAllister. NY: New Atlantis Books. 2014.  p. 115.


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