It is quite common for kids, teens and younger, to have their own cell phones these days. With these new privileges there also should be some rules and boundaries set forth down by the parents.
Here’s a few that they might consider.
- Pause the thumbs – When someone speaks to you while you’re texting, it is appropriate to pause your thumbs and quit texting long enough to look the person in the face and give them your attention. Texting isn’t like verbal communication. You won’t have to worry about forgetting what you were saying. It will still be sitting there in mid-sentence when you go back to it.
- Surrender them at bedtime – Most kids have a hard enough time getting enough sleep without having the temptation of communicating with their friends all night long via their cell phone. Make it easy for them, and collect the phones before bedtime.
- No loaning your phone – Kids are always asking to borrow each other’s things. A cell phone can be expensive to replace and it can also gain extra charges from overuse. No loaning out your phone to your friends.
- No phones at the table – If the phone is there, they’re likely to be using it in some way. If your family tries to make mealtime, family time, keep the phones away from the dining room.
- No phone until after homework – “It’ll only take a minute.” Those are words often heard from the mouths of teenagers. Thirty minutes later, you’ll be reminding them to hang up. The homework will take ten times as long if they have their cell phone on the table next to them.
- No embarrassing photos – Photos of your siblings half-naked are not to be taken with your cell phone and sent to all your friends. Responsible use of the camera function should be required.
- No texting in church – Many churches give this gentle reminder as their services start via the overhead screen. As a parent, you should be setting it as a ground rule before they arrive at the service.
- No phones on family night – If you’ve tried to create an evening during the week for your family to spend time together. Cell phones are bound to work against your goal. Parents and kids should turn them off.
- Battery charging is up to them – Cell phones are a good opportunity for kids to learn personal responsibility. Make them responsible for keeping the battery charged. The consequences of not following through are immediate and directly correlated to their actions.
- Drive with both hands – Obviously, this isn’t just for kids, but teen drivers are especially susceptible to distraction. Tell them to keep their cell phone out of reach or turned off when they are in the driver’s seat. Absolutely, NO talking or texting on your cell while behind the wheel.
You may agree with all or some of these, regardless, as a parent you should definitely take the initiative to set some ground rules for the proper use of your child’s cell phone.
One last piece of advice, parents must lead by example. If you are texting and chatting with friends, or have your cell at the dinner table, don’t expect your kids to behave any differently. Especially with texting while driving. You may tell your teen that you are more experienced, but teens believe they are invincible! Don’t give your children any excuses to be rude, inconsiderate or potentially at risk with their devices.
Manners online are just as important as offline. Kindness and respect is always a priority in all things we are doing.