About Me? Okay:

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West Lafayette, Indiana, United States
I'm a somewhat crappy-at-it mom to a 21 year old, Genius Boy, & a blue & purple haired 14 year old, the Goddess of Grump. My language is questionable & I laugh at farts. Need I say more?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kids & Cell Phones

Both of my kids have cell phones.
Naturally, one would expect that the 18 year old has one. He does.
But my 11 (almost 12) year old has one too, and has had it for over 2 years.
Some parents have suggested that I'm nuts for allowing my tween daughter a cell phone. I agree that I'm nuts, but not for that reason.

I firmly believe that with proper guidance, supervision and a firm set of rules & regulations, cell phones for younger kids can be a great teaching tool & preparation for some aspects of life in the real world. The world is going electronic people!
I don't want my kids to grow up to be obnoxious adult gadget users.
For instance:

  • Texting while you're walking around a store, narrowly avoiding collision with innocent shoppers, is rude. Don't do it.
  • Texting while in face-to-face conversation with someone is rude AND disrespectful. Don't do it.
  • Talking on the phone while you're in line at Starbuck's is obnoxious to the highest degree. DON'T DO IT! I don't want to hear about your drama while waiting to order my half-caff, whole milk, extra whip zebra mocha!! STFU or get out of the line, dumbass, or I may just surreptitiously accidentally spill my high fat java on your $400 phone on my way out the door!
  • If I happen to get a text while driving, I tell the kid in the car with me to read me the text & I dictate the answer, or I have her tell me who it's from then I tell her that I'm driving so I'll have to answer it when we stop, since texting while driving is dangerous, and only idiots do that. A stupid driver. Don't be one. (She hears that from me a lot, but that's a post for another day.)

Let's not ignore the sense of security in a parent when you know that you can reach your kid immediately in a crisis, or have them located by Police or Fire & Rescue if the unthinkable were to happen (since it's apparently inhumane to have a GPS chip implanted in their head).

I have the GoG keep her phone in her school bag (volume down to silent and then phone turned off), tucked away in an innocent looking pocket in case there's ever an emergency at the school. No mother wants to think of school shootings or a scary stranger, bent on evil, showing up in a school building full of kids. I know it's against school regulations for her to have the phone there, & maybe I'm a little paranoid, but I don't give a shit. I feel better knowing my girl won't be without her own way to call for help should any such horror arise... and she knows how to do it. I dare the school to confiscate her phone & call me to retrieve it. Mom trumps school in my world, & I have no problem discussing this with the principal if necessary.

The Responsibilities, Rules & Regs of child cell phone usage at our house:

Part A
First we'll go over the 3 R's for ME regarding the GoG's cell phone:
1) ALL available parental tools & controls have been activated on her phone, & will be periodically checked to ensure their continuing operation. (No download functionality, GPS tracking ON so I can spy on her, All of my contact info in her ICE contacts, etc.)
2) It is my right as the Great & Powerful MOM to thoroughly read each & every text on the GoG's phone, both sent AND received, even if she's in the middle of typing a word. It's my kid & I can read if I want to.
3) Cell phone WILL be removed from the GoG's possession without warning if I deem it necessary. Each ensuing complaint by the aforementioned kid will add one extra day to her cell phone deprivation. She has been informed of this and will NOT be reminded.

  • GoG: But MOM! I neeeeed it!!
  • Me: I know & it sucks. That's one more day, care to keep arguing?
  • GoG: Grrrrr!!
  • Me: She shoots, she scores!!

4) Compliance with rules of cell phone etiquette, acceptable words & message subject matter will be reviewed periodically in accordance with item #2, above.
5) I am committed to informing and periodically reminding the child of procedures to follow in an emergency.
6) I will make more rules as necessary, being that, although I am the Great & Powerful MOM, I admit that I am fallible & may have missed something.

Part B
The GoG's rules regarding her cell phone usage:
1) All phone calls or texts from mom WILL be answered promptly OR ELSE the cell phone will be removed from her possession (see Part A, #3 above).
2) The GoG is responsible for maintaining a sufficient battery charge. Battery death is not an acceptable excuse for failing to answer calls or respond to texts from moi. (see Part A, #3 above)
3) Bullying, (or encouraging/participating in a friend's bullying behavior) will result in immediate termination of cell phone privileges. Phone will be surrendered to mom & battery will be hidden where even God himself would have difficulty in locating it. (see Part A, #2 above)
4) If she wouldn't say it in front of Gramma, I had BETTER not find it on her phone. (see Part A, #2 above)
5) Possession & usage of a cell phone are a privilege, NOT a right, and will be promptly withdrawn if rules 1-4 are not strictly adhered to
6)If something happens to you, grab your phone & call for help. 911 first, mom second. Having a cell phone is also a responsibility. If you are witness to an emergency it is your responsibility to use your phone to summon help.
7) Don't ask me again for a smartphone. You're a kid. You don't need the web in your pocket.


I am not a mom who will give 5 warnings or cave to whining or pleading. (This is where being a stubborn bitch comes in handy)
You know the rules, kid, & failure to comply will result in consequences that you are fully aware of. If you have forgotten the consequences, please consider the consequences you endure to be your reminder of their existence. This is how real life works; harsh, I know. It sucks. Get used to it. You're gonna be on this pretty little Orb we call home for a while.

I have found that with my kids the best teaching tool is consequences, especially if those consequences are sudden & substantial. They learn much more quickly to turn off the laptop/DS/Playstation/TV when they are instructed to if refusal results in mom immediately removing the object from the child's possession, dismantling it, and sending it's parts to the 4 corners of creation. They earn the privilege to use the object again by a consistent display of acceptable behavior. For TVs this is accomplished by removing the power cord. For a desktop computer, removing the keyboard and mouse are usually sufficient.

This approach has worked well for us, especially with the cell phone issue.

Additionally, although I've never had trouble with GB & his phone usage, I would not hesitate to suspend his phone service via a call to the service provider if I deemed it necessary. (Bonus: I'd get to pretend I had no idea what was wrong & would "try to fix the issue with customer service" until I decided to allow the use of the phone again.) That would be kinda fun.

I'd really like to hear from other moms who have allowed their kids to use cell phones & what rules and procedures are followed in your family!

Happy Texting!

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