This may date me a bit, but when I was in high school, I had a pager. I know… pagers! We actually weren’t even allowed to have our pagers at school if we owned one, but I got special permission from the principal to carry one. Kinda a long story, but I lived REALLY far from my high school, and kinda needed it to keep in touch with my Mom. Since you really only had numbers to work with, you would develop codes with your friends. Like 47-911 could mean Chris needs to speak with me ASAP! Her “number” would be the 47 and the 911 meant EMERGENCY! We didn’t have full QWERTY keyboards and unlimited texting plans.
Of course the technological times have changed, and so have the rules. You need to set some ground rules for your children and any sort of technology they own. Here are some things you can do to make sure they aren’t getting into trouble with their devices. Cell phones and a texting plan can really help you to stay in communication with your child, as long as it is being used appropriately.
1. Check with your cell phone carrier. See what kinds of monitoring or restrictions you can put on the phone. Sometimes you can make the phone non-operational during times of the day you set. You can set it so it can not be used during school hours or the late hours of the night. If you have a set dinner and family time routine you can also set it so it doesn’t work during those times of the day as well.
2. Discuss appropriate messages. Make sure you let them know that you are able to get a report from the phone company of all of the texts and photos they have sent. Just knowing that you are monitoring it will help. Discuss that anything they send can be forwarded, long after they have sent it. Let them know that if they wouldn’t shout it out in the middle of the cafeteria, then they probably shouldn’t post it online or send it in a text. This includes suggestive texts and gossip.
3. Talk about appropriate times. Even if you are able to shut off the phone during the non-appropriate times, make sure your child knows why the phone doesn’t work at those times. Family time, driving time, sleeping and studying time all need to be free of texting distractions. My niece is only 14 and she can send a LOT of messages in a short amount of time. You would be surprised how much they can send. You and I may send a text here and there, about once or twice an hour. They can send HUNDREDS! If you don’t allow the phone near them when they are studying, eating with the family, driving, etc then it can be a serious distraction. I recommend creating a spot in the back seat of the car, or even the trunk for a place to put the cell phones so it’s not even in reach while on the road.
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Sarah Kimmel has spent the last 16 years of her career as an IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com