Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Teenagers and Cell Phones. Learn From My Experience.


So, I promised my twelve-year-old she could go back to school with a cell phone.  That was six months ago, and we are still navigating the waters.   If you are new to this situation, too, maybe we can help each other.

Now, it’s not that I want to hide from cell phones, television, or computers altogether.  I want a door that shuts on them from time to time, to protect sanctuary in my home. 

How to find moderation with a teen or ‘tween, and cell phones?  If you can learn from my experience it will make me happy.  And then share your insights with me.  Here are some of my hard-learned lessons.       

1.  Buy time.  Not cell phone minutes, but as much time as needed to get informed about cell phones and teenagers.  If your child is pressing you for a phone, set a date that’s reasonable for you, and then stick to it.     

2.  Get informed.  Learn about phones, services, and payment plans.  Learn about your provider’s parental controls.  Don’t assume that because you have a cell phone, you know the needed facts.  Assume that your child knows way more than you do. 

3.  Ask what boundaries seem reasonable to your child.  Try to discern what he/she thinks cell phones are for.  Sit down, and prepare to be educated. 

4.  Decide what your boundaries are.  Do you mind the cell phone being used first thing in the morning?  At midnight?  At dinner?  On family outings, hikes, bike rides, movies?  Your child will have seen atrocious cell phone behavior by the time she’s potty trained.  She can’t be expected to follow reasonable boundaries unless you make them conscious and clear.     

5.  When in doubt, start with a strict boundary and ease up later.  Explain that this is a work in progress.  Allow yourself to evolve.

7.  If your child is young enough, start an early rule that a phone at school belongs in the locker.  High school teachers report that the cell phone habit is nearly impossible to control in the upper grades—even though schools have rules against them, they are hard to enforce.  Discourage the habit of carrying it to class. 

8.  Let your child have a say in which phone to buy, but pay for it yourself.  Ownership = tiny shreds of control.  Your child can pay for services if you want him to have a financial stake. 

9.  Finally, when it all seems too much, look for comic relief.  You might try learning some texting language to try out on your partner or mother.  Beyond the ever popular “WTF,” there are phrases like: 

YRYOCC:  “You’re running on your own cuckoo clock.” 

SSEWBA:  “Someday soon, everything will be acronyms.”   

RUMCYMHMD:  “Are you on medication cuz you must have missed a dose.”

Do you have any wisdom about teenagers and cell phones? 


photo cartoon from  Click on photo for link to page. 


Saz said...

Hilarious, true and very frightening....worryingly so.

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Great post - filled with parental wisdom and humor. Good luck!!

Frugal Scholar said...

We did the pay for minutes type too. My only additional tip: we had the kids research the cheapest/best plan. It saved us a lot of time on a task we hate. It taught them valuable skills. Plus, our children know they benefit from family frugality.

Jean said...

The Teenager-in-waiting has a mobile phone (cell phone) and she has to have it on her whenever she is out of the house. If she doesn't reply to my calls it is confiscated. It does get taken off her when she's get grounded too. She's actually very sensible with it, and texts me to let me know where she is.

Good luck!

Unknown said...

I've learned..also make sure your cell phone company puts a block on spam Text messages. make sure they do not text their vote into a TV show. or those spam text messages will start showing up on the bill as an "extra" $9.99 a month. Though you never subscribed. I was getting the weather for the midwest, though I never subscribed or even live there. LOL!

studioJudith said...

Great acronyms ... .
I must admit to not being able to share any wisdom on this subject.

You've just reminded me of another reason I'm grateful NOT to have any teenagers at home!


Rosaria Williams said...

Sallymandy, these are excellent suggestions. BTW, schools have strict rules about phones.

Zuzana said...

Ah, luckily I have no such problems.;)) It is amazing realization, each time I talk to my sister, who has two kids (third on the way;) how different a life is when you have no children.
But, there is also some incredible magic that is never present and never to be...

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

Yikes. I'm already worried about that and he's only 14 months. Ah ha

Darla said...

Good ideas. My 12 yo GD has a cell phone and is pretty responsible with it. I did tell her my car is a "cell free zone", when I pick her up I expect to talk to her not listen to half of a conversation with someone else.


sallymandy said...

FFF: Well, I'm trying not to be frightened but to meet this technology straight on!

Thanks, Bonnie.

FS, Not SM and Cher: Good ideas...thank you!

Judith: Right, the acronyms are just too much.

Lakeviewer: I appreciate your thoughts, being an educator. Thx.

Protege: Yes, children change everything. Being an aunt is an important role, too. I really believe that.

Kristin: That's funny. I don't remember what I worried about at that age, but I know I did.

SYT: I thought about the cell free zone tonight when we were in the car. Thanks...great idea.

Tiffany said...

Maybe boys are different. My 12-year-old has a phone because he travels quite a distance to school. He does use it to contact friends, but he's not a 'chatter', so we've had no issues with it. YET. My daughter, who is about to turn 9, will no doubt be a different kettle of fish ... So I will save your advice for that day!

Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

Great tips - and locking it away at night time - kids are notorious for texting at night - interrupted sleep is not good.