School has started for kids nearly everywhere and if you’re anything like me, you’re a little relieved to get back on a school schedule. Like me, your kids probably also have cell phones, right? Let’s spend a minute and talk about that:
Cell phones, like the Internet, Facebook, etc. can be great and they can be terrible. Used properly, kids can communicate with their friends, be social, stay up on current events and even mind numbingly entertain themselves instead of doing homework. Used improperly, kids open themselves up to sexual predators, send and receive inappropriate images, subject themselves to bullying and a variety of other things that as parents we would never allow in our children’s lives. But we do when a cell phone is given to a child without rules or guidelines.
Number one, your child has to know that you as a parent have the right to inspect the contents of their cell phone at any time, without any justification. And parents, do it! You’ll hear the whining, privacy violation arguments from your kids, but no one said being a parent is easy. If you child’s phone is password protected and you don’t know the password, that is a problem that needs to be rectified immediately.
-Consider a “no electronics” rule after bedtime and store your child’s cell phone in your room or other agreed location where it can be charged and set on silent until morning.
-Monitor your child’s social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they change constantly and be aware your child may have more than one to keep you from being “in the know”. Do your parental sleuthing and pay attention to the accounts your kids are using. If they have a hidden one, they’ll slip up eventually and you’ll find it. Rule number one also helps in this regard.
-Be aware that sexual predators love to online game with your kids as much as they do. Remind your kids they have no idea who they are actually gaming with, so keep personal interaction to a minimum.
-Texting and driving is never okay. Not even at a stoplight, because it’s really hard to leave an unfinished text unfinished when the light turns green.
Have boundaries and emphasize accountability for your kids and their cell phones. Keep in mind some kids are more responsible than others, but above all, stay plugged in and aware as a parent.