Cell Phones. If you are a parent of a middle school child, perhaps those two words brings a host of emotional responses. Everything from, “I thank God my kid can be safe with a phone now when he/she is not at home” to …. “What in the world is THIS TEXT I see on my daughter’s phone?! Who would send such a horrible text?” Cell phones, like all social media, are a thing that is here to stay and no matter how we may feel about our kids and CELL PHONES, we need to find a clear and resolute standard for our kids to follow and respect.

When asked what is the most important thing you could have if you were stranded on a desert island, what did pre-teen kids say? A Cell phone! More than any other device or thing!!

Cell phones with the texting and the FACETIME can be like having a host of other parent’s kids in your house that you didn’t invite! Suddenly without warning, you are bombarded with another kid or two (depending on how many kids you have with phones) present and carrying on loud chatter at your table! What is a parent to do about this or about any of the ‘rude nesses’ that kids think are “just life and normal”?  How about some rules? After all, freedoms without rules is chaos and not what parents want to mirror or consent to.

Identify all people texting your kid. If you don’t have time to check each one, then you are not being a responsible parent. Your kid should expect a loving and protective parent to do such.  Being involved is love.

  1. If your kid is new to the cell phone “life”, looking into your carrier’s packaged deals might be the best choice. Limited texting packages until your son/daughter proves they are worthy and respecting of your rules, would be a good idea.
  2. Leaving his/her cell phone in a common area each night before bed or whatever time you plan is also a good idea. Let your child know that all calls and texts will be checked for the time and identity of the caller.
  3. Make sure your child understands that each new friend they add to their phone be discussed with you. That friend is of course friends with their friends and so on and so forth! How many “friends” will be made a ‘friend’ or contact of your kid?
  4. Have definite times of the day calls / texts can be made. Make clear what persons can never be texted or called. Make sure you know how to BLOCK calls from unwanted callers.
  5. Make sure your child agrees to report to you any inappropriate or threatening messages.
  6. If you allow You Tube to be used on your kids phone, make sure they understand the types of videos you allow them to view and which ones they cannot view from their own phone any another phone.
  7. If you are not comfortable with your child’s cell phone receiving instant messages from a user’s computer, be sure to deactivate the feature or show your kid how to do it.
  8. Cameras on cell phones are potentially as dangerous as your kid becoming a felon. Safety rules for kids (as well as adults) should be discussed regarding taking and sending out photos. Taking pictures of private parts and sending them out over a phone is a felony; yes, dear son or daughter, even if it is your own private parts being sent out over a phone or computer. And if they receive any inappropriate photos to make sure you are told about each one.
  9. There is also a deactivate control for the smart phones internet access. Monitoring websites into your child’s phone is harder than even on a computer -says the Wall Street Journal.
  10. If you are uncomfortable with email accounts for your kid, make sure you disable the selection in the settings.

There are many more rules for cell phone use. Ask your kid what other rules might be of good consequence.

Our kids need more than ever before other generations, for us to discipline them so they can survive and thrive. Being consistent and making clear rules so both parties understand is imperative. Loving guidance is key in all areas of our pre-teens lives. Keep the lines of communication open!

More on cell phone and social media for parents:

 http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/your-child-technology/10-tips-cell-phone-safety

http://www.ncpc.org/topics/cell-phone-safety-1

http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/parenting/ages-and-stages/tweens/30-tips-for-raising-middle-schoolers