Cellphones and Internet


Today’s smart phones can present another issue for parents.  Just like everything else we have talked about they just need to have parameters and safeguards set up.  Keep in mind everything that we have talked about this month is for the protection of our children.  The first question you need to ask yourself as a parent is, does my child really need this?  Is a smart phone something that they need or is a regular cell something that will suffice?

The thing to remember with a smart phone is that, while they are the most popular thing to the youth culture, they cost more per month and they have internet capabilities.  The internet on these phones is much harder to filter.  Last week we discussed internet safety and how to protect your children.  The safety tips we discussed are much harder, if not impossible, to put into place on a phone’s internet.   So again this begs the question, is this a necessary thing for your child to have? Do the risks of a phone like this outweigh the benefits for a teen?

Cellphones and Internet 2010-04-26T15:26:07+00:00



One form of communication today that 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.

Texting 2010-04-26T15:21:58+00:00

Cellphones and Responsibility


One of the biggest complaints about cell phones and teens seems to be that they are not staying within their minutes.  This causes the family phone bill to be astronomical.  If you have not decided to have your child pay all or part of their bill, then this may be an issue.  When children are responsible for the money, they to pay more attention.  They at least need to take care of whatever overages that have accrued.  Take their cell phone away until those overages are either paid off out of their allowance or worked off by doing jobs around the house.   Unfortunately most parents would rather pay the debt than fight the battle.  It might be easier to just pay for it, but it teaches nothing.  This is a responsibility issue.  Cell phones are a privilege and responsibility opportunity not a right.   This is an excellent training time for a child who may not be paying attention to those small details.  It is those small details that may help them be successful later with finances and work related responsibilities.

Cellphones and Responsibility 2010-04-26T15:17:55+00:00

Cellphone Parameters


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.

Cellphone Parameters 2010-04-26T15:15:39+00:00



When we talk about the parenting subject of privacy vs. protection this week’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.

Cellphones 2010-04-25T12:37:39+00:00

Internet Gaming


As we close out our week discussing internet safety, we have merely begun to scratch the surface.  The point to remember and put into practice is accountability.  We must make our children accountable on the internet for their safety.

Many parents are not aware that many of today’s gaming systems are connected online.  You can set your Xbox live and Playstation 3 up to play other people online.  This is fine and fun when you are connecting with your friends to play.  Problems can happen, however, when they are playing people that they don’t know.  I wouldn’t have them stop in the park to play checkers with a person they don’t know, why have them with strangers play online?

Social networks also offer a variety of games to play.  This is another area that parents need to be aware of and set parameters.  Your child does not need to be gaming with people that they don’t know.  Most of these games have open chats.  And most chats have very inappropriate discussions in them.  This is often where predators hang out. Please monitor your child while they are gaming to make sure they are safe and that no one they don’t know is talking to them.

Internet Gaming 2010-04-20T11:01:37+00:00

Social Networking


What’s a parent to do about the social networking scene. Kids today seem to do a lot of their “hanging out” online.  Which is why there has been an explosion of social networking sites. Parents must set parameters.

Many parents are not aware of the fact that sites have a 13 year age minimum.  Sites are doing what they can to safeguard younger children. They also have an automatic privacy setting for people under 16.  The problem is children are getting on and lying about their age.  Parents that allow their under 13 year old to have a Facebook or MySpace account are encouraging dishonesty.  This can be a very dangerous and slippery slope.

If your child is over the age limit that does not mean they must have an account.  These accounts need to be handled responsibly and can only be trusted to teens who can handle the responsibility.

Parents need to know passwords and privacy controls need to be set so only friends can see their page.  Teens need to understand they are not permitted to share personal information such as phone numbers, address, email addresses or any other information that a stranger could use to contact a child for a one on one. Only people they know are to be allowed to be their “friends” on their pages.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of safe guards, but it is a starting point.   First and foremost keep an open dialog with your teen about their page or even get a Facebook or MySpace page yourself so you can keep track of what’s really going on.

Tomorrow we will discuss social networking and reputations.

Social Networking 2010-04-19T21:36:13+00:00

Where do we go from here?


We have just begun to scratch the surface of the parental challenge of rights vs. parental responsibility to protect the child.  In the weeks to come we’ll continue with this topic, but what about hope in the middle of this discussion? Today’s blog could be titled, “ok, so now what?”  If you have older children this is something you are already in the middle of.  There maybe someone out there that says yes, I agree with everything that has been said but what do I do now?

Sit down and evaluate what changes need to be made.  For the sake of example we will use the bedroom.  A parent has not felt it was their right to go into their child’s bedroom.  They are realizing this is a mistake.  The plan that has been decided on is that mom will check the bedroom daily to make sure the chores are done correctly as well as keeping her eyes open for anything that doesn’t meet family standards.

Start with a family meeting. Talk with your children about the fact that for their protection and safety things are being changed.  Privacy is a privilege that is earned only when trust is built.  It’s not even so much that you don’t trust them.  It’s that you don’t trust others out there that you don’t know.  You don’t really care what other people are doing or say is okay.  You love them too much not to get more involved. “But mom,” the child might protest, “Why are you starting this now?”  “Because I now realize that I have made a mistake and  for your protection I’m taking steps to correct my mistake.”

The bedroom is a great place to start.  Next, however, it’s time to move on to the boundaries surrounding those potential secret invaders into your child’s life …friends, technology and the internet.

Where do we go from here? 2010-04-04T20:48:47+00:00

A Right to Protection


What is a child’s most important right?  In today’s society, there’s a dumbfounding battle between the child’s right to privacy vs. the child’s right to protection.  One of the things that our children are being taught by their own sub-culture is the attitude that “I have rights that you as a parent cannot touch.”

Many parents are paralyzed over what to do with this type of attitude.  They feel helpless knowing the need to protect their child but feeling they are not “allowed” in some instances.

When it comes to bedrooms, cell phones, computers etc. begin with two thoughts.  Whose are they really and who is in charge of protecting the child.  Never have my children reminded me that it was time for them to go to the dentist or time to get a shot.  But I knew they needed it for their own protection.  I went against their “want” in order to meet their “need”.  Begin the process of thinking through boundaries as a protection issue rather than a rights issue.

Tomorrow: when it comes to personal rights … developing the right attitude in the heart of the child.

A Right to Protection 2010-04-04T20:01:42+00:00

The Protection of Boundaries


No one in their right mind would allow a stranger off the street to baby-sit for their child.  No one would allow a stranger to knock on the door and say, “I’m here to spend some time with your child … alone.”  Yet many parents are unknowingly doing just that.  When it comes to technology … and it is coming at us faster and faster … your child needs some basic parental leadership. Two basic questions need to be answered for your child: what forms of technology (Facebook, Twitter, texting etc.) are they allowed to use … at what age and what are the boundaries. There are no real boundaries unless a parent chooses to establish the boundaries. If there are no boundaries established then virtually anyone has access to your child without your approval, without your awareness and without even identifying their true identity or intentions.

Technology isn’t bad anymore than water in a pool is bad. But a pool with no rules is incredibly dangerous.  There must be a balance in allowing your child freedom, but it absolutely cannot come at the cost of their protection.  One of parenting’s ultimate ends is to protect children.  We will be discussing of over the next several blogs this topic as well as learning the balance.

The Protection of Boundaries 2010-04-04T19:51:24+00:00