My kids have discovered FaceTime. If I have your number, it ain’t safe, it ain’t safe, it ain’t safe, it ain’t safe

OPINION: My kids like talking, so you have been warned.

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Straight up, it wasn’t my idea. 

In fact, I was fervently against the idea. I quite passionately told my wife that I didn’t think it was a good idea to enable FaceTime on the 7- and 5-year-olds’ iPads. I could see where it was going. Somehow, someway, they’d discovered texting, a discovery I made while driving back to Washington, D.C., from Michigan in February. I started getting the most random of messages on my phone…from myself. Somehow my email address was texting me things like, “I miss you, daddy and when are you coming home.” It wasn’t spelled as cleanly or written as succinctly as I would have, but you get the point.

I called my wife and asked her if she was texting me, only to determine that my kids had discovered both texting and using Siri to dictate messages at the same time. And because my Apple ID was being used on their iPads—until recently, they didn’t have their own kid-appropriate Apple IDs—I kept getting texts from myself. Which was fine; responding was where I went wrong. As soon as they saw that I responded, they started responding, and for hours, my phone was flooded with texts. 

FaceTime was different, though. See, I didn’t have FaceTime enabled on their iPads. I figured if I did, they might start calling folks haphazardly since they’d gotten really good at pressing any and all numbers available. 3457864253 looks like gobbledygook to me, but I’ll bet that’s SOMEBODY’S phone number, and I do not have an international plan on my phones. But see, we FaceTime family and friends all the time, so it was only a matter of time before they noticed that though they could text, they couldn’t actually FaceTime anybody. 

That realization—and pursuit of corrective action—took place a few Saturdays ago. One of the kids, the older one, came downstairs, wondering why he couldn’t FaceTime anybody, just text. Me? I stood tall. That answer was simple—“because you don’t pay no bills around here.” Thing is, they didn’t ask me; they asked their mama. And their mama, in her ever-understanding, benevolent, short-term-thinking wisdom was like, “why can’t they FaceTime anybody?” and asked me to enable it. I distinctly remember saying, “I don’t think this is a good idea.” 

I distinctly remember her ignoring that first distinction and having me enable the function. And not only that, she ADDED numbers to their contacts. Friends, family, etc. And then the hootenanny started. 

My phone kept ringing; my son was FaceTiming me. From two feet away. Then three feet. I had to run an errand. He FaceTimed me in the car. Then my other son FaceTimed while the first was on the phone with me. I could hear the feedback on my phone. And then my wife, hopefully after having called other parents, added the kids’ Apple IDs, and then the kids started calling each other. In the morning. At night. Once, I went to charge their iPads at like 11 p.m., and both of their iPads were still in conversation with another iPad that belonged to a child who, like ours, was well into Lalaland. 

But then my wife’s college-attending brother’s friends came into town. My kids cajoled them into giving up the phone numbers, and then the FaceTimes to the college kids started; I have no idea where they were (or, more importantly, why they answered), but I’m fairly sure my kids called them at the club. 

My kids have asked me to add all sorts of folks to their contacts list. I often tell them no. Not even often; I almost always tell them no. I know what’s going to happen. But mama, oh mama, she believes in communication at its apex. She wants me and you, your mama and your cousin, too, to be able to talk with and to my boys at all hours of the day. These kids wake up at 630 a.m. and immediately hop on Roblox or Minecraft—I’m actually unsure which one they’re playing at all manner of day—and yell at one another through the phone since I suppose they cannot yell at one another in person; kids yell at one another a lot. 

My kids are FaceTime mavens at this point. When they get in the car, and they have their iPads, they’re calling somebody. We pretty much have to tell them not to, or else it’s happening. They get very sad when they can’t call somebody. So this is just to let you all know if I have your number—or more accurately, if my wife has your number, and she has A LOT of numbers—you might get a call or 12 from some pint-sized communicators who never say bye before they hang up and who also really want to talk to you at hours you think your notifications are turned off. You’ve been warned. It’s not that I won’t stop it; it’s that I can’t. 

It ain’t safe it ain’t safe it ain’t safe it ain’t safe.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).

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