Sunday, January 06, 2013

Rules for the cellphone

A somewhat local woman gave her 13 year old son an IPhone for Christmas.  Her story has been all over the local news and actually made notice as far away as Australia (yet another crazy American story).    I do agree with a lot of her points but there are some that I think are way off.

1. It is my phone.  I bought it.  I pay for it.  I am loaning it to you.  Aren’t I the greatest? Nice.  Isn't the point of getting a present it's yours?  As a mom, I have no problem whatsoever in taking something of my children's for a period of time if behavior requires it; doesn't make the object mine.  In my possession, yes but mine? Not really.
 2.  I will always know the password.  One of the top rules in my house.
 3.   If it rings, answer it.  It is a phone.  Say hello, use your manners.  Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”.  Not ever. We agree with two in a row; we're on a roll.  
 4.  Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm.  It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am.  If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.  Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected. Disagree.  If there were issues with my son's usage perhaps I'd agree but Jason's old enough to talk on the phone after 7:30.  If I found him texting at 2 am and not sleeping on a schoolnight, yes then there'd be an issue.
5.  It does not go to school with you.  Have a conversation with the people you text in person.  It’s a life skill.  *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.  Disagree.  Yes, I do expect my son to talk to people rather than text them when he's with them but should he need to tell me he's staying late, needs money for lunch account (I pay over the internet), etc, I want him to be able to contact me; texting me is the quickest way.  
6.  If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.  Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money.  It will happen, you should be prepared.Agree
7.  Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.  Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire. Agree
8.  Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person. Agree
9.  Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.  Censor yourself. Agree
10.  No porn.  Search the web for information you would openly share with me.  If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father. Agree
11.  Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public.  Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being.  You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that. Definitely agree.  This is HUMONGOUS pet peeve of mine and it's frequently not teenagers who are guilty.  I don't allow the phone at the table or family parties.    
12.  Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.  Don’t laugh.  Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence.  It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life.  It is always a bad idea.  Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.  And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation. Agree.
13.  Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos.  There is no need to document everything.  Live your experiences.  They will be stored in your memory for eternity. Absolutely disagree. Yes, live your experiences but there is nothing wrong with taking pictures and documenting them.  I wish I had taken more pics during my school years.  Nothing is stored for eternity unless this woman happens to be part elephant.
14.  Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision.  It is not alive or an extension of you.  Learn to live without it.  Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out. Disagree.  Feel safe and secure in not using the phone to check facebook or your email but I expect my son to have his phone with him and on so that I can reach him.  
15.  Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff.  Your generation has access to music like never before in history.  Take advantage of that gift.  Expand your horizons. I don't really feel one way or the other about this. 
16.  Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then. Agree.
17.  Keep your eyes up.  See the world happening around you.  Stare out a window.  Listen to the birds.  Take a walk.  Talk to a stranger.  Wonder without googling. Agree, not so sure about the talking to the stranger part though.  Its hard for me to really say anything on this one; I used to walk from Kendall Sq station to Draper Lab every day reading a book while I walked.  Probably not all that different.
18.  You will mess up.  I will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.  You & I, we are always learning.  I am on your team.  We are in this together. Agree.