How Parents Can Manage Teen Cell Phone Use
A few years ago, one of my history students asked, “What was life like before the iPhone, Ms. P?“
As much as that question made me feel REAL old, I could see her point. My students’ lives have been completely taken over by cell phones. Their high school experiences are night and day from mine.
I am grateful to have grown up before cell phones existed. My friends had fun without me and I never knew. I could escape the constant social comparisons just by leaving school. Y’all, I used an encyclopedia to get information and played games on my graphing calculator.
For teens today, a private life doesn’t really exist anymore. Their mistakes are on display for everyone 24/ 7. Even worse, more teens are dealing with anxiety and depression than ever; scientists believe there is a strong link with cell phone use.
As parents, we wonder, “What can I do? How do I protect my child?” To help, I’ve rounded up blog posts from a variety of bloggers on all things cell phones and teens.
How Parents Can Manage Teen Cell Phone Use
Let’s face it – we all have concerns about cell phones and our kids. Anyone who has watched a room full of completely quiet teens glued to their phones knows something is up.
This post from Parenting Teens and Tweens really brings home some of the big differences between the world many of us grew up in pre-cell phone and the world our kids live in now. Hint: it’s very different. Understanding how teens live today will be helpful when you have those tough conversations with your kids about phone use.
And speaking of tough conversations, this one is a doozy. This article goes into depth about WHY teens sext (and there are all types of reasons), but also what the consequences can be. This issue tends to negatively affect young girls more than boys, but involves kids of all genders.
When I taught U.S. Government, I had very frank conversations with my students about the possible legal ramifications of sexting. I *hope* that kept a few from pushing send on that pic.
Ground Rules and Contracts
If your tween is about to get a phone for the first time or you just need to reset the teen/ phone relationship, this is a great place to start. Michelle from Sunshines and Hurricanes gives lots of ideas for rules and how to talk to your kids about their phone. You can grab a copy of her contract while you’re there.
Karen from Nourishing Tweens also has a contract she used with her tweens. She also mentions a documentary that she watched about teens and phones – be sure to check it out!
Jen at Kitchen Counter Chronicles went another direction. No contract, but some important conversations with her tween. She’s got some good reasons for ditching the contract – see if they work for your family.
I had not thought about how we learned phone etiquette in the past and why that would be a problem in today’s world. Sara from Saving for Someday points out that many teens use their phones, but not actually to talk. They literally do not know how to make basic phone calls, a skill they will need to have in the future.
Let’s face it – raising kids is all about placing limits on them. Is it fun most of the time? Absolutely not. However, those limits will keep your kid safe online. Here are some ideas for taming the internet monster!
If you’re worried about how much time your tween or teen spends on their phone, this is a good article to start with. There are some solid ideas for limits you can place on their use. My favorite is “one screen at a time.”
Sheryl from Moms of Teens and Tweens has some no-nonsense ways to help parents get a handle on their teens’ social media lives. Some of the solutions don’t directly touch on their social media, but do affect their overall phone use. Less phone use = less social media.
Alex at Crystal & Co. has some great app recommendations for parents who want to more actively monitor their child’s social media. And don’t forget to have those conversations with your kids about WHY you are monitoring their social media in the first place!
If you would rather not monitor yourself, there are apps to teach your child how to be more responsible while on the phone. There are some great suggestions, including some for kids who also drive!
I don’t know about you, but I hate being the bad cop all the time. Instead, Lara from Overstuffed Life found a product that will be the bad cop for her. Hurray! Yes, there is an affiliate link, but I have heard raves from other parents about this product, too.
If you don’t want to buy it, she also mentioned how you can do the same thing manually. I also know that some internet providers have a similar service.
Hopefully, these blog posts gave you some ideas you can implement in your own home right away. In general, know your kid, have those conversations, and always model good phone usage yourself.