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Parenting advice - cell phones

abc31

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I have a soon to be 12 year old son. He has a cell phone, but only for communication with my husband and I. He is not allowed to call/receive calls from friends. He has recently gotten a whole new set of friends from his football team. They all walk around with their cell phones like they are stock brokers. Of course he wants the same freedom as they have, so it has become a constant fight.

When these kids are at my house, they are constantly on the phone and texting. I saw them all gathered around one of the boys as he was texting girls one day. I told my son that when he is ready to start talking to girls (and I think he's a little young), he should call her house and ask her parents if it is o.k. to talk to them. I would be upset if I had a daughter and there were boys calling and texting her on her cell phone.

I feel that now that all of his friends have all this freedom with their cell phones, I am completely losing control. Our computer is in the family room. I have never felt that it is safe for a child to have access to the internet in private. It is a crazy world out there. If these kids have their cell phone numbers floating around, heaven knows who could get in contact with them. I think it is an invitation to trouble. There is no control over who they are talking to or who they are hanging around with. Am I being over protective?
 

Zac495

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My kids all have cells and unlimited access. It's the computer I'm a freak about. I have spyware on the computer so I can get every password, see every IM converstation, etc. I use spector pro (google it if you're interested in finding it).

Phone - we sat on the phone day and night with our friends, too. I don't worry too much about texting - but I do have an unlimited plan (it is so cheap). The world is different - I wouldn't mind if a boy texted my daughter, but he's not taking her out unless I meet him. She also won't go to a girlfriend's house without me meeting the parents. Yeah, I think you should let him have access to the cell phone with his friends.

By the way, I have parental controls on the phone. They can't use the internet on it, no downloading games, etc. Don't think - oh my kid wouldn't do that. Companies will text kids and if you don't text back STOP, they start charging. My daughter racked up a huge bill - it took me 3 months to notice (stupid me - I just pay the bill automatically). Phone records are available and you will be able to see every number and text they make (though not the content).
 

Twinkstarr

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I would check your school's policy about phones at school. My 12 yr old is in 6th grade at our Jr High. Policy is no cell phones at school(I think you can keep it turned off in your locker). Well I was helping at the Book Fair one morning and during the morning announcements,principal comes on with the new rule, if you get caught with your cell phone you will be suspended one day. I'm assuming this means caught using it at school texting someone.


My youngest is a 1st grader, I walk him to the bus stop in the mornings and a couple of 5th graders bring their phones to school. Haven't heard anything from the elementary school yet, but I'm sure I will.

We'll probably get the 12yr old one for his 13th b-day in Aug. DH and I need to upgrade our phones first. :)
 

3kids4me

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I think the world has changed a lot in just a few years. When my almost 17 year old was 13, he was begging for a cell phone, and about half his friends (mostly the girls) had them already. My middle child got her cell phone at 12 and she was one of the last of her friends to get one. My youngest is now 10 and we are already considering getting her a phone for when she starts middle school next year. I would actually feel better knowing that if something happened on the school bus or elsewhere, she could reach us if necessary.

As another poster mentioned, we all spent hours on the phone as teenagers. Some of us even had our own phone lines back then so our parents would not have known who was calling anyway. A cell phone is just another phone. You can always turn off texting if you think that is an issue.

This doesn't address the OPs question but as it was mentioned by another poster I wanted to add that I don't spy on my kids using any kind of software. I think spying is an invasion of privacy, and I know my kids would never trust me again if they found out I was doing something like that. I'm sure they won't make perfect decisions, but unless I have good reason to believe that their lives are in danger I don't think I would ever change my position on that. Since we have to drive them everyone, we usually know where they are anyway. And for those kids that are already driving (like my son), they will soon be in college and so they need to learn how to make appropriate judgments now, which sometimes does mean making a mistake and learning why it was a mistake. I went to college with some kids that were so overprotected in high school that they went nuts in college with drugs and/or drinking. It was the first time they had any freedom at all. I don't want it to be like that for my kids!
 

BocaBum99

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My 11 and 15 year old both have their own cell phones. Neither of them text, though. And, they primarily use their phones for reaching us and vice-versa.

It's the internet I am most concerned about, especially since we are such a wired family with 5 computers. But, believe it or not, I think some these games they play, like Runescape teach them about the real world and how cruel and cold it can be. There are so many scams there that they learn very important lessons about who you can trust when you lose something really important to you. The good thing is that those items are actually very cheap.

I think it's best NOT to shield my children from the bad stuff in the world, but to educate them on how to properly deal with it. Otherwise, when they get to college, they won't be able to deal with real life.
 

jlr10

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Cell phones are now considered a part of teenage life, and they communicate mainly through text messaging and a facebook type page. We started our son off with a prepaid phone in the 8th grade. We gave him 300 minutes for the first year. When he didn't lose the phone or use his minutes irresponsibly we purchased a family plan that did not have texting, and then later upgraded to texting for all family members. The advantage to texting is that our son will read a text and text a response fairly quickly, but will not usually answer the phone and talk to his parents in the presence of his friends He was pretty good about sending us quick little messages telling us when they were moving from where they said they were going to be, so we were able to keep track of him, and found we worried a lot less than before. We do read his facebook page. Not to monitor him being responsible, but because he uses it like a short blog and we can keep track of how and what he is doing at collge.

However, on the other side: The only time our son got in trouble in high school was over text messaging. He got in trouble because he assisted a friend, who had just gotten a cell phone. The friend sent an anonymous, offensive text message to another student during school hours, with our son teaching him how to text. Both boys were suspended, one for sending the offensive message (harsher suspension) and the other for using a cell phone on school property (lesser suspension.) We suspended cell phone privileges for 2 weeks and his friend got his cell phone taken away for several months.

So, the previous advice given is appropriate. Be sure that the school policies are known and followed. Remind them that text messages are not just harmless messages between friends, but written messages that can be read by more than the person that was the intended recipient. Set guidelines and consequences for misuse upfront.

As parents we did monitor our son. He was not permitted to use the internet in his room unless the door was open, and he knew that we had the right to check emails and website history, and even texts on his phone. We rarely did, but sometimes just knowing we might is enough. We stopped monitoring the websites in his senior year. But we did check emails as he did not access his emails at all, and almost missed some college deadlines. We had to tell him he needed to begin monitoring his own emails, and quit checking anything. But that was only after he proved responsible use (minus the one mishap!) We also spoke to him about his facebook page, reminding him that anything he posts can, and most likely will, be reviewed by future employers.
 

suesam

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Oh you remind me of myself. My boys are now 16 and 18. You are just beginning the tug of war between over protective and too permissive. The only words of advice I have for you are.... don't give up the good fight, follow your instincts, and do not allow things just because other parents allow it. It is so hard in today's society to try to be a good parent. You are often not popular among not only your child and his friends, but other parents as well. Try to find parents who think like you for support.

Good Luck and stay strong.

Sue
 

capjak

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We got our teens phones early on and wish we would have had a lot more ground rules.

T-Mobile now has an option where you can turn the phone off at a certain time, this is a good idea as teens/tweens tend to text all night if you let them.

Definitely keep an eye on this as it is only begining. Insist no computer/tv or cell phon in their bedroom at night otherwise they will be up all night using them...no matter what they say.
 

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My Son is a college football athlete, so I went through the same thing you're talking about a few years ago. First, buy a plan that includes unlimited text messaging, because once his team/friends have his number, you'll be amazed at the volume of text's each month. When you get the bill, question him about the text/calls and where they're from.

He's learned, that if Mom sends a text, he better callback ASAP. He also knows that Mom and his coaches are monitoring his facebook, myspace page,etc. So, you can give him freedom, as long as he understands there are checks and balances.

JT
 

abc31

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. Try to find parents who think like you for support.
Sue

I think I just did! Thanks Sue.

Thank you everyone for all of the great feedback. I guess I need to relax a little bit. I do see a difference though, between a child having access to a phone in the house and having a phone wherever he goes. He has his phone when he is out riding his bike or playing with kids in the neighborhood. When someone calls the house, you usually know who he is talking to or you can ask. Some of these kids even have internet access on their phones. Even if mine doesn't, if he is with them he can get into trouble. It is a really scarry world. I guess I just have hold my breath and pray a lot.

Boca, I do agree wth you that it is important to teach your children how to make good decisions and to not sheild them completely. Peer pressure can get the best of any kid, though. I do believe that if you try to keep them on too tight a leash, they often rebel. I guess I have to find some middle ground. Wow, I thought the toddler years were hard!

Thanks to all!
abc
 

hibbeln

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One other quick thing (and I got this from another mom).....every phone now has a camera on it pretty much. Too many kids lay in bed and text at night........think about that one for a minute and just think how long it would take for kids lying in bed to start getting silly and take/send a photo they regret later on (especially if it get sent around the school). I'm sure my friends and I would have done something stupid like that at some point! :rolleyes: This mom thought about that one and made the rule that everyone had to plug their phone in downstairs every night to charge before they went to bed. She said it was because she wanted to make sure their phones were always fully charged in case of an emergency.....but really she didn't want pajama/nightie pictures or worse to get taken and sent! :eek:
 

jlr10

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This mom thought about that one and made the rule that everyone had to plug their phone in downstairs every night to charge before they went to bed.

I know someone who has a similar rule. But the charging station is in Mom and Dad's bedroom.
 

swift

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Having a 17 year old, 16 year old and 10 year old I know where you are coming from.
These are some things that I have done. Personally, I didn't get my children a cell phone until they were in a sport that they needed to be in contact with me for rides. Other than that I found it was more of a fashion want than a need. This was one of the examples we used in trying to teach them financial responsibility. Then they started out with a pay as you go phone. They did an extra chore around the house to earn their phone cards to add minutes. My son would help dad do some extra cleaning of the garage. My daughter would do some prep work of that nights dinner so that when I got home cooking it went much faster. I agree with Capjak that you have to find some way of putting a control on the phone at night. For us the charging station is in our bedroom so the phones are plugged in there every night. At first our daughter was charging hers in her bedroom and as Capjak said we found her texting late at night. Of coarse we were the misunderstanding parents that just didn't get it that she was needed to solve the latest crises in one of her friends life. :rolleyes: We have also established other ground rules such as no cell phones at the dinner table or while you are are in line at a check out stand. Just a few common sense cell phone manors that seems plenty of people seem to forget. As far as calling a girls parents to ask them first if he can talk to there daughter on the phone IMO it is a little much. We want to teach our kids good manors but they also have to at least a little reflect the times. I think there are very few people that teach their boys that they have to ask a girls parents if they can court their daughter anymore because that is from a time past. These days at 12-13 girls and boys are "going steady" if you can call it that. It is more often nothing more than saying hey I like you. They are "going out" one day and breaking up the next. It is the beginning of another social growth in maturity. It is also a good time to open up conversations about drugs, alcohol, and how to treat a girl. Like breaking up via texting is something that some kids do but is it the right thing? Anyway- preteens and teenagers- lots of fun-lots of opportunities- all you can do is your best and pray that they have listened and will now put into practice all that you have taught them.
 

stmartinfan

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Lots of good advice here...With two teen girls, I've had some experience, and would emphasize a few points others made:
1. Monitor your phone bill carefully, for things like the companies that send kids messages that are charged for. My daughter signed up for one of those about music and it took us a couple of months to figure out what it was and then it took a couple of irrate phone calls to their 800 number to get the $5/month charge stopped.
2. Also check your bill carefully for the numbers being called. My one daughter with disabilities has a short list of friends she talks with, so it lets us know if someone new has come into the list so we can check up on who it is.
3. The advice about photos is very important - too easy for inappropriate shots to get out there. And it's not just at night. It may be snooping, but I will occasionally flip through the pictures on a phone, if it's left laying around the house.
4. Be sure kids understand that you won't pay for things like ringtone or music downloads, before they rack up charges they don't expect.
5. I agree that parents shouldn't expect their son to get permission from a girl's parents to talk with them. There's more "group" dating now, so it's common for a group of boys and girls to do things together.
 

pjrose

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My kids got them in 9th grade, but times continue to change.

After several problems with inappropriate texts from some boys :eek: and use during inappropriate times :annoyed: , we signed up for AT&T's "Smart Limits". If you are not on AT&T, perhaps your carrier offers something like this. It's $5 a month, and I can submit any of the following online, and change them any time I want:

  1. a list of blocked numbers (e.g. the boys with the inapprop texts)
  2. a list of times the phone can't be used (e.g. after bedtime, during school).
  3. a list of always allowed numbers, including parents, guidance office, doctor, that can always be called, even during the "no phone" times. 911 is always available.
  4. maximum numbers of texts and minutes per month.

It's worked out great - not only can DD not use the phone when I don't want her to, more than I don't want her to, or with those I deem inappropriate, there are no more arguments about these issues - the phone doesn't work at those times with those people, and that's that. It's the best $5 I spend every month :clap:

I also have blocked any purchases, downloading, picture and video sending/receiving - that's all available on AT&T without Smart Limits.

I also make it clear that I CAN and WILL check the numbers called and occasionally read the text messages. I make it clear that this is for HER safety and well-being - and since she did have problems before, I think she understands that.
 

Zac495

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I think the world has changed a lot in just a few years. When my almost 17 year old was 13, he was begging for a cell phone, and about half his friends (mostly the girls) had them already. My middle child got her cell phone at 12 and she was one of the last of her friends to get one. My youngest is now 10 and we are already considering getting her a phone for when she starts middle school next year. I would actually feel better knowing that if something happened on the school bus or elsewhere, she could reach us if necessary.

As another poster mentioned, we all spent hours on the phone as teenagers. Some of us even had our own phone lines back then so our parents would not have known who was calling anyway. A cell phone is just another phone. You can always turn off texting if you think that is an issue.

This doesn't address the OPs question but as it was mentioned by another poster I wanted to add that I don't spy on my kids using any kind of software. I think spying is an invasion of privacy, and I know my kids would never trust me again if they found out I was doing something like that. I'm sure they won't make perfect decisions, but unless I have good reason to believe that their lives are in danger I don't think I would ever change my position on that. Since we have to drive them everyone, we usually know where they are anyway. And for those kids that are already driving (like my son), they will soon be in college and so they need to learn how to make appropriate judgments now, which sometimes does mean making a mistake and learning why it was a mistake. I went to college with some kids that were so overprotected in high school that they went nuts in college with drugs and/or drinking. It was the first time they had any freedom at all. I don't want it to be like that for my kids!


OH! well they KNOW I have the spyware on the computer! As a matter of fact, the other day I was checking the 10 year old's use and found out that she got into a chat room. She was SO relieved that we knew because she didn't "know how to stop."

I wouldn't drop my kids at the mall all alone to be with anyone in the world - I won't drop them on the internet either. I'm with them. I do NOT read every word they write - and I have never gone into their email. But I CAN and they know to do the right thing on the computer - as anywhere else. I'd rather invade their privacy (if you call it that - I don't - I consider it the same as going with them to the mall) than risk something terrible happening to them. But you're entitled to your opinion.
 

pjrose

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OH! well they KNOW I have the spyware on the computer! As a matter of fact, the other day I was checking the 10 year old's use and found out that she got into a chat room. She was SO relieved that we knew because she didn't "know how to stop."

I wouldn't drop my kids at the mall all alone to be with anyone in the world - I won't drop them on the internet either. I'm with them. I do NOT read every word they write - and I have never gone into their email. But I CAN and they know to do the right thing on the computer - as anywhere else. I'd rather invade their privacy (if you call it that - I don't - I consider it the same as going with them to the mall) than risk something terrible happening to them. But you're entitled to your opinion.

Privacy is not relevant when my kids' safety is at stake.

I have always made it clear to my kids that they must tell me their passwords, but that I will not read the mail or texts unless I have reason to be concerned. Several times I have been able to tell that there was reason to be concerned (hush hush late night conversations, crabbiness, rude language, sudden interest in inappropriate music....), and guess what, I was right.

The content of the texts/emails were sufficient in several cases for us to request that the school keep an eye on those particular boys and, where possible, keep them away from our daughter. In one case there was disciplinary action against the boy.

Unfortunately, DD doesn't yet have the best judgment in picking boys, and until that changes, I'll keep tuned to what's going on. DD used to say I was overprotective (to which I said "Thanks, it's my job") - but now that she has been in (or close to) several quite bad situations, she doesn't seem to mind any more.
 
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normab

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I agree that the world is changing. Talk to some of the other parents and you will see their world is so different from ours at their age. My son is 19 and I have lived through it very recently!!

I recommend you give him more freedom but you should still set the rules, whatever they are. Also, please educate you son about the unscrupulous persons out there so he knows not to give strangers his personal information when on the internet.

I think 12 is a good age to start allowing them some freedom and decision-making within your boundaries. It's also a good time to teach them how to protect themselves while making those decisions, once they are 16 they really don't want to listen too much anymore!

Good luck. :)
 

applegirl

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I am very impressed with the parenting backbone of pjrose. :clap: If only all kids had parents that were this strong and this confident in their rules and expectations, the world would be a better place!

I completely agree that my kid's safety is WAY more important than their privacy. They can have all the privacy they want once they are adults and out on their own.

This is a great thread. I've learned a lot of good ideas for future phone issues that will arise when my two youngsters are tweenies/teenagers....if I can remember anything by then :eek: (ha!).

Keep sharing your strategies and ideas!

Janna
 

pjrose

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I am very impressed with the parenting backbone of pjrose. :clap: If only all kids had parents that were this strong and this confident in their rules and expectations, the world would be a better place!

I completely agree that my kid's safety is WAY more important than their privacy. They can have all the privacy they want once they are adults and out on their own.

Thanks, Janna! But honestly, I didn't start out this way - I had to get tough because of an oppositional child with poor judgment.

Normab pointed out that "once they are 16 they really don't want to listen too much anymore!". Well, mine's been like that since about age 3....

Fortunately, she has matured enough to realize that my vigilance is helping keep her out of trouble, and she also knows that as her judgment matures, I will happily back off.
 

abc31

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Does anyone know if Verizon offers some sort of parental controls such as pjrose descibed? That would make a world of difference.

Thanks again for all of the great responses.
 

CalifasGirl

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overprotected teens in college

I went to college with some kids that were so overprotected in high school that they went nuts in college with drugs and/or drinking. It was the first time they had any freedom at all. I don't want it to be like that for my kids!
That reminds me... I went to college with a boy who was so overprotected that he played video games all night and day instead of going to class. He didn't overdo the drinking and didn't do drugs, but he was valedictorian of his class at his high school. He ended up being dismissed from college when he couldn't lift his GPA up to a 2.0 and was on academic probation. It was all because he overslept his classes and played video games instead of studying. He did go to a less prestigious school after that. I have no idea what happened afterward.
 

Patri

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That reminds me... I went to college with a boy who was so overprotected that he played video games all night and day instead of going to class. He didn't overdo the drinking and didn't do drugs, but he was valedictorian of his class at his high school. He ended up being dismissed from college when he couldn't lift his GPA up to a 2.0 and was on academic probation. It was all because he overslept his classes and played video games instead of studying. He did go to a less prestigious school after that. I have no idea what happened afterward.

A boy from here was the same. Nearly flunked out of school because he became addicted to video games. Had not played them at home. He did straighten out and graduate.
 

pjrose

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THIS is why parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing on cells, texts, and everywhere else. Some kids may have the maturity to ignore or delete or even report a person like this, but obviously these 13 and 14 year old girls were not:

http://yorkdispatch.inyork.com/yd/local/ci_11142728

I can't imagine the parents being so clueless as to not be aware of their child exchanging 2000 emails or 1,200 texts with an adult who was sending them pictures of his you-know-what.

Call it snooping or overprotective, but I will continue to keep an eye on what my teen is doing!
 
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