When we talk about the parenting subject of privacy vs. protection today’s topic is: cell phones. The push to have cell phones has become younger and younger. Many households no longer even have a land line which makes families have to address this issue.
The first thing that a parent needs to remember is that a cell phone is not a right, as your children would have you believe, it is a privilege. Before parents extend this privilege to to a child, there are many things that need to be thought through ahead of time. What will be your family cell phone parameters? At what age is reasonable for a child to have a cell phone… not according to their friends and social circles … according to your family’s needs and standards. Will they pay all or part of their bill? What will be the parameters for talking/texting on it? All of these are easier if established beforehand.
As you are setting up family cell phone rules the obvious first step is leading by example. If the rule is “no answering the phone during dinner,” but the parent … their leader …takes a call, it’s an obvious huge inconsistency. It can even be helpful to have a family charging dock where everyone leaves their cell phones over night. This can help with the battle of calls and texts late into the night.
Phone rules also need to be established about where and when having your phone is appropriate. There have been many issues with cell phones in the schools. Even cheating has gone tech as kids are texting test answers to each other. There is no reason for a child to have their cell phone on during school hours. It creates a distraction to the classroom environment as well as being against the rules.
As difficult as this sounds, parents can lead by example in the car. Teenage drivers are not experienced enough to be able to use a cell while driving. Most states have a hands free law in place. Set an example when it comes to cell phone appropriateness.
One more area to discuss which is extremely popular is texting. It is so easy because you can get straight to the point of communication. This may be why it appeals to the younger generations. They have even gone so far as to shorten words to enable quicker communication. Because it is so popular, this form of communication is definitely something that parents should be aware of and place parameters around. Until a child is trustworthy with the cell phone there may need to be limited, if any, texting.
Another issue that has popped up in this current trend is called “sexting.” This can be either sexually explicit conversation or explicit pictures. With the introduction of camera phones this has become a major problem. The government is beginning to crack down on explicit pictures sent via text. Most teens send them as a joke or because they have not thought through the ramifications of their actions. However, because they are underage, the government is treating this issue as child pornography. Please have a discussion with your child about this issue before allowing them to send or receive texts.
Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.