Last Christmas one mom gave her 13-year-old a new phone – accompanied by a list of 18 rules he’d have to follow to keep it. It’s made the rounds of TV stations and Facebook, but if you haven’t read it, you can check it out here: Gregory’s iPhone Contract.
I shared it with my 7th and 8th grade girls and learned that some of them text late into the night (and very early in the morning), without their parents’ knowledge. A handful have phones protected by passwords which their parents don’t know. If the phone gets confiscated, they’re smart enough to delete any incriminating texts or photos before handing it over. One or two said that their parents don’t even know how their phone works.
Most parents agree that there should be some rules for phone use, but many are either too busy or too reluctant to actually enforce any. They may insist the family computer be kept in the living room,but they forget that a smart phone places all of cyberspace – and hundreds of fun apps – right in the palm of an adolescent hand.
While 18 may seem excessive, it is important for parents to make at least a few rules – and to enforce them. Just like proper hygiene, appropriate cell phone usage has to be taught. Discuss with your teen restrictions on time limits and your expectations for text, picture, and internet content, and agree on consequences for broken rules. Take charge of the cell phone rather than letting your teen be in charge of it.
And don’t forget that one of the nicest things about cell phones is their portability – they fit nicely into parents’ purses or pockets!