Subscribe today for your FREE copy of…
FACING YOUR FEARS – 31 STORIES FROM M.O.M.
eBabies + iTeens + YouToo: Kids and Cell Phones – the WHAT and WHERE
Several years ago, during a Faculty-Student Home Worship, I realized that our ten student advisees were not particularly engaged in the discussion my husband was leading. At first, I thought perhaps they were a bit shy, as it was early in the school year and we were all starting to get to know each other. But I found out later where their attention had been: texting their friends who were at other faculty homes to compare food, dessert, and activities.
Daniel and I had spent a full afternoon preparing our home, making a home-cooked meal, and planning worship. Instead of enjoying a time of connection and fellowship, many students squandered the evening complaining to each other. What a waste of time and potential!
In Talk to the Hand, Lynne Truss claims that we have become a rude society, with technology trumping basic civility. Complete strangers bellow entire hands-free conversations for everyone within earshot to hear. Customers halt checkout lines by texting rather than completing their transactions. People snap photos and post them to social media sites without ever asking permission to (a) take the photo or (b) make it public.
As moms, it’s up to us to help our children understand that cell phone use is a privilege that comes with many important responsibilities. (They’re certainly not going to learn it by osmosis!)
Some WHAT and WHERE Shared Wisdom:
- When my daughter was in middle and part of high school, I set up parental controls so that the phone turned OFF at bedtime. She hated that! But kids lose sleep because friends will text all night. I also set up parental controls so that she couldn’t text during church.
- Another idea that worked (sometimes) was a rule that said the phone had to be on the kitchen counter overnight. That saves the cost of parental controls. The problem with that one is that I became the “counter police” and conflict evolved when she ignored or forgot that rule. That’s why the automated parental controls were nice; it took me out of the conflict equation.
- Another ongoing rule: no texting/phone play at dinner or restaurants. You’d think this would be understood but I still get arguments about this. “Mom, I’m 17, when are you going to let up on the restaurant rule.” I didn’t think of this answer at the time, but plan to put it into action: “If I’m buying dinner, I’m paying for the privilege of your attention. If you’re buying, then enjoy your texting.”
- If I had it all to do over again: I’d drill and drill and drill this concept: people in the room take priority over people on the phone, every time.
- The phone will be charged over night in my room starting at 9 PM. They don’t need access to texting/calling/etc. after that time.
- Their first phone will not be a data phone. Allowing kids to have unlimited access to the internet, pictures, etc is not wise. I would want to make sure my children were being responsible with other media first and then have specific ground rules and/or filters on their phones.
- By the age of 17 I would allow a data phone so his or her first taste of freedom will be while I am still available to monitor it.
- Absolutely no phones at the table. No calls or texting while we have dinner.
- Our daughter can’t use the phone anywhere in the house except upstairs where it charges in an open space. With permission she can take it babysitting, when hanging out with friends, etc.
- She is not generally allowed to talk to or text with boys. We don’t allow gossip or conversations with kids we haven’t met. We regularly check her phone logs to monitor her conversations.
- Also, if she gets an attitude or places the use of her phone above chores, responsibilities, or starts to be disrespectful to us or her brother, the phone gets take away.
We didn’t allow a photo package until a certain age, and we have a NO PHONES IN THE BEDROOM rule. That’s key for us, especially because other kids don’t. And we never have phones at the table or out when we host friends.
- When they are younger, only give it to them under specific conditions. Like if they are going off with friends and you want to be sure they can reach you and you can reach them.
- Require them to answer your calls, or if they are in class or where they can’t speak then they should text you back and call you ASAP. If they don’t then it should be taken away.
- No texting and driving. Provide preventative measures that will give them the options to talk text instead of text message.
- No phones at the table. No answering phone calls or texting when talking to a real live person (unless it’s the parent who is calling.)
- If calling time or texting goes over usage limits then they have to work off the amount it cost extra. If they do it again, then they can lose phone privileges.
- On a positive note: Look for ways to use the phone for good. Ask them to find one verse to text their friends in a group text every day. Encourage them that communication is not just a chatting experience; it’s an opportunity to be a gift, to encourage others, to speak life in to the lives of others. Ask them to call a sick friend, a person who is often ignored in school. Have them call their grandparents or other family members.
In this short video, some of my students discuss limitations to and inappropriate uses of texting and social media:
After the ill-fated Faculty-Student Home Worship, Daniel and I decided to ask students in advance to keep all technology silent and out of sight when they come to our house. They’ve been completely respectful of our “Gregory Family Rule.” And when all cell phones are stowed, everyone has a wonderful time.
We’ve barely scratching the surface! I’d love to continue the conversation and hear your thoughts, ideas, answers, reactions, and further questions in the comments!
We’re linked up with The Better Mom today: