Archive for the ‘parenting’ tag
Teenagers and cell phones – they go together like biscuits and gravy. Or pastrami and rye, depending on where you live. But no matter where you live, one thing is universal: it’s possible for teens to get in trouble with cell phones. Where there’s potential trouble, there have to be rules.
We gave in early to our teens having cell phones. As soon as they were allowed to go somewhere without one of us, we decided it was time for their own phones. I remember growing up and using “But there wasn’t a phone there!” or “I didn’t have a quarter” as excuses to be late for dinner or go places other than where I said I was going. Teens today don’t have that luxury. The reason we let them have phone wasn’t to boost their social standing: it was for parental peace of mind. I know that if they get in trouble and need me, they can call or text me and I’ll be on my way. I also know that I’ve got “kid-on-demand.” I can instantly talk to either of my girls and ask them where they are and who they are with, and they’re at my beck and call via speed dial.
That leads to rule number one:Â They will always answer the phone when I call. Aside from swimming, I can’t think of one other activity teenagers could (or should) be participating in that would make them physically unable to answer the phone. Sure, playing football or being in a movie theater might count, but I always know when my kids are doing that and I don’t call. They know that if they don’t answer, I’m going to call back again and again until they do and I’m not going to be happy about having to keep at it to get an answer.
Rule number two:Â Their phones are accessible by their parents on-demand. Boy, this makes them mad, but it’s important. I don’t go snooping through texts or check voice mails on my girls’ phones, but they know that I can. And if I have strong evidence that something unsafe is going on, I certainly will.
Rule number three:Â Always observe proper phone etiquette. No calls or texting during inappropriate situations such as during school/class time, family meals or when ordering at a restaurant. It’s just good manners. I see enough adults doing it that I’m not going to let my girls get into these bad habits as well.
Rule number four:Â Remember that I pay the bill. This isn’t a rule so much as a reminder to them that I’m going to know what’s going on when the bill arrives each month. I have a list of Â numbers for all their legitimate contacts and if I see that one of my girls is talking to someone I don’t know, I’m going to find out who it is.
Rule number five:Â Never, ever give your phone number out online. The danger of that is obvious. We have installed keystroke tracking software that monitors every time a phone number is typed into the computer. (That last sentence is completely untrue, but our kids believe it.)
Raising two teenage girls is tough enough without laying in bed worrying about predators or boys with bad intentions accessing them through their phone. A little diligence and some firm rules go a long way towards us sleeping better at night.