Bong…ding….jingle…swoosh…These are the sounds I hear all day long when my kids are home from school. Their cell phones are practically glued to their hands. My husband refers to the cell phone (each of my kids has an iPhone) as their “life support system” – remove it and they’ll certainly perish.
Once my daughter dropped her phone into the toilet. Our question to her was “Why did you bring your cellphone into the bathroom to begin with?”. Seriously, if you can’t put the phone down for 2-3 minutes while you use the bathroom you have a problem.
Things were not like this when I was growing up. The high tech gadget back in my day was a Walkman. It was great to have but I could certainly live without it too.
There are plenty of days I regret giving our kids cellphones. We gave both of my kids cellphones at a young age for safety and security reasons. It comes down to one situation that happened a few years ago.
Both of my kids went to our town’s day camp for the summer. The town would take the kids on field trips from time to time.
One day my kids were with camp across the river at the Bronx Zoo. They were suppose to be home around 2:30 (home from camp that is). When the camp bus didn’t arrive I was worried. I had a cellphone (thankfully) and I called the school. They said that there was an accident on the bridge and the buses were stuck on the bridge (the buses were not involved in the accident). They had no idea when the kids would get home.
My kids were little. I didn’t want to leave the bus stop in case they came home. Our bus stop is about half a mile from our home (give or take). At the time my kids were 7 and 9. I didn’t want them walking home from the bus by themselves. We live in a condo complex with A LOT of strangers coming in and out of here. For their safety I didn’t want to take any chances.
Time went on and the bus still wasn’t home. I also had to go to the bathroom REALLY bad…really, really, really bad. I didn’t want to go home to use the facility in case the kids came home.
It was horrible not knowing where they were (Stuck on the bridge? Almost home?). If they had cellphones I could have called them to find out or had them call me and tell me when the bus was almost at our bus stop. I wouldn’t have had to sit in the scolding heat of the sun in a car with no AC (and no shade) and have to use the bathroom. I could have gone home to wait for them.
The next day they had cellphones. It made me feel better knowing that when they were away from home I could reach them. We also knew our daughter would be doing after school activities when school started again so we figured it was good for her to have in case she needed us or something.
The initial idea was fine. In hindsight I almost regret it now. My kid’s entire lives are based on their cellphone and the various social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snap Chat… not to mention texting. Ha! Don’t even get me started on the texting! My kids will text me from the next room. How lazy can you be? I refuse to reply. If they want to know what is for dinner either shout out to me or get out of your room and ask me face-to-face.
The only good thing about the cellphone is that it’s truly a punishment if they are grounded and we take their phone away from them. My daughter had her phone taken away for a whole month. It was pure “torture”.
Another good thing is the Find My Phone app. My kids hate it but my husband and I like knowing where they are at all the time. That is how my daughter got in trouble. She wasn’t where she told us she was. She told us she was at a friend’s house one night and we found out she was in the bad part of town at a party, compliments of the Find My Phone app.
As parents we do have rules.
1. No phones in the bedroom at night. During the week they need their sleep. They don’t need to be texting or snap chatting with their friends. On the weekend that rule applies too. Who knows what teenage boys and girls chat about at 3 AM.
On school nights the phones have to be on the counter in the kitchen before they go to bed at 10 AM. On Friday and Saturday night they have to hand them over at midnight.
2. They cannot download an app without our permission. My kids are not allowed to have the password to download apps. All apps must be cleared by me or my husband first and foremost.
3. My husband and I must have their passwords. They cannot lock us out of their phones. We don’t Police their phones but if there is a need to we need to be able to access their phones.
4. We are “following” them on Twitter and friends on Facebook. We never post or tweet to our kids, but it allows us to see what other kids are posting to them. I have had to ask my daughter to “unfriend” and block several boys over the past couple of years who I found to be rude and offensive.
We might come across as “strict”. We don’t see it that way. We see it as parents who are taking a proactive stance to protect our children in a digital world.
We were teens once too. We are not trying to interfere with their friends or socializing. We are just keeping an eye out for them “in the background”, so to speak.
Here is one of my #1 rules when it comes to cellphones. This applies to the tablet, iPad and iPods too. Verizon Wireless even created a cool little graphic to share my tip not only with my readers but with others.
Verizon Wireless also wanted to share some tips with She Scribes readers on how to parent children in a digital world.
I love the little people in the graphics. The are adorable.
These are some great tips too. It’s also scary to think that 3 year olds are ready to be active users of electronic media. That is crazy! If I had to do it all over again I would have waited a bit longer to give my kids cellphones and their own computers. I didn’t have the growing up and I turned out OK. If anything I had more friends and a better imagination compared to my own kids. Their friends have been reduced to names in their phone’s contact list. Sigh…
Thank you Verizon Wireless for these great tips.
Do you have any great parenting tips for parenting in a digital world? Please feel free to comment and tell me about them.
*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit of my site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.