We recently have entered the world of the "big-time" teenager. We made the leap into the cell phone world at Christmas time - and for those of you who don't know we managed to hold off until the age of 14. I am sure there will be necessary therapy for deprived teenagers. The teenager and his cell phone has been an interesting experience. It does have its pros and cons. I can now contact my child when I am running late to carpool line, I have instant contact with him no matter where he is and I now have something that can be removed when teenage behavior is not to my liking.
Before making this leap into the cellular world that would grant unknown freedoms I did a little research. I wanted to make sure that I could limit internet browsing, I wanted to be able to track calls and I wanted to be able to restrict phone usage. In discussing these issues with other parents I have been astounded that they were not aware all these controls were available. And yes, I use them liberally.
My teenager, believes that I am way too strict and over-protective and I am okay with that. I think the downside of protecting him from himself is relatively low to the downside of the trouble he may acquire untethered.
The phone came with rules - no more than 6000 text a month (you do the math) this was quite generous, no phone time between the hours of 9pm and 9am, you must answer a call from mom or dad immediately and no deleting of text until mom has been able to look at your phone.
For the most part all of these were adhered to .... and then I decided to check the phone log. A good portion of text were being sent during school hours (granted he does have quite a bit of study hall time but...) so I opted to spend an additional $5.00 a month to give myself a little more control. I now have the ability to block certain numbers and to not only set voice and text limits but to set the times in which his phone will actually work. Yes, I am very mean.
The entire point to this ranting is that when I discuss this with parents they have no idea this kind of control is available. At what point did we as a society begin to believe that our children's independence was a right? When did we start to abdicate our rights to the media world? Why do we think that because everyone else allows their children technology that we should just go with the flow? It is a little difficult to understand the parent that will purchase a phone, pay the monthly bill, give it to their child and then feel like they have no right to control what happens with that phone because it is the child's property. I think we are doing our children a huge disservice to allow them freedoms without boundaries, to not call them to account and not have them be a part of a family that has rules and consequences or rules and rewards. There are times when I know it would be much easier to allow constant texting at the dinner table or when grandparents are at the house, but I believe that children should be taught to engage with the person who is front of them not the one who is on the other end of the phone. (Now I understand why it was so difficult to get my twenty-one year old employee to deal with the customer standing in front of her versus the one on the phone.) Children are being trained to not engage with reality ...... and that is a blog of its own.
So parents I am here to say ...if you were not aware you have control on many levels -you do-and I support you in using it.
****disclaimer my teenager follows the rules well on most occassions.
Train up a child in the way he should go;even when he is old he will not depart from it.