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Do You Have Your Own Rules for Your Children's Phone Usage?

How closely do you monitor your children's use of technology?

Janelle Hoffman, a Cape Cod, Mass., mother of five, presented her 13-year-old son with an iPhone for Christmas, along with a list of rules and regulations for its use. Not the Apple list; the mom's list.

Rule No. 1 is, "It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?" And No. 2 is, "I will always know the password."

The contract has 18 points of requirements for usage that range from proper phone etiquette to sage advice for the future, such as No. 12: "Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else's private parts. Don't laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea."

KidsAndMedia.org suggests responsible parents be vigilant with their teens, but monitoring may be a bit overkill. "As parents, we are responsible for our children, and, thus, we have a right as well as a duty to guide them in the digital world. At the same time, children have a right to use digital media, and they have a need to learn about safe and responsible use thereof." They suggest a balance be found, and sometimes that just depends on the child and the age of the child.  

Common sense parenting seems more reasonable than installing the monitoring software and while Hoffman's set of rules seems reasonable to many adults, teens, no doubt, see this as a gross intrusion of their privacy and a lack of trust that, many times, just isn't merited. 

Do you have rules for cell phone use at your house? How closely do you monitor your teen's usage? Do you think Ms. Hoffman's rules are reasonable? At what point should teens be allowed the rights of privacy afforded by a cell phone?

Jerry Posner January 02, 2013 at 04:03 PM
yeah phonesheriff works great, it's an easy way to set AND enforce the rules while guaranteeing the child's safety and keeping logs of everything that goes on
Gail Lane January 02, 2013 at 04:46 PM
A little surprised that you found this overkill, Tammy. Not in a bad way, but still surprised. I found this parent's "rules" to be more about learning to communicate and be part of our world rather than anything Draconian or overkill. I especially liked #17 "Wonder without googling." What did you find that was overboard?
Tammy Osier January 03, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Me too Gail. This is coming from someone who teaches life skills to kids and parenting. I'm always surprised at the kids who seem a little edgy when their parents don't keep their boundaries tight enough (you wouldn't think that of kids who had been in trouble). I was usually a little miffed at the kids who laughed at their parents for being naive enough to think their kids wouldn't be tempted. They weren't meaning to be disrespectful, but it helped me realize that kids respect a parent that gives them boundaries- some stricter than others; depends on the kid and their personality. I've done this for 20 years, working with kids who have been in trouble (at school and with the law), and that's the consensus I get. They WANT stricter rules. They rebel against it outwardly sometimes, but confide it privately. I found when raising my kids, that it wasn't about me or how good a parent I was, it was realizing that anyone can be tempted and my boundaries gave my kids an "out" when they were tempted. In fact, the good kids need it even more. Being overly strict without a good relationship with kids - will that cause rebellion? Most likely, but keeping the adult - child relationship intact - in that order - is the best prescription. Kids respect it (they won't tell you that until they are around 23 however...). :)
Tammy Osier January 03, 2013 at 12:03 AM
I remember something my parents told me once and I never forgot it. THey said, "It's not hat we don't trust you, we just don't trust that big wide world out there that doesn't love you like we do". Today, as I watch my grandaughter get on a coloring pages site, I have to monitor because of pop ups and it "suddenly" scrolling over to an inappropriate site! The internet age should scare anyone who has kids now.
Tammy Osier January 03, 2013 at 01:01 AM
I re-read this...and it made me think of my 17yr. olds truck. It was in MY name, therefore, I reserved the rights to it. He could learn to be independent, how to take care of something, but it he misused the privilege, it reverted back to me. I don't care how old they are. I never assumed that my children knew as much about the world as I did. They don't. They're young. That's why they need guidance. They have to learn that their privacy ends when they can't obey a rule. But there is a balance and you have to work together towards it, but always keep in mind who the adult is, and who the child is. I've seen many a family ruined when they allowed that line to get blurred. Some of my parenting columns are going to be on this very concept. Regarding my son's truck....I was not one of those parents that "parked" his truck and took his keys when he got grounded from it. I "drove" it. He didn't like the way I rode the brakes, so it gave him a little bit of incentive to get his act together, and get those keys back into his hands - lol.

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