After much soul searching, we bought our preteen son a cell phone for Christmas. We have put all kinds of limits on its use. He has never taken it to school or to church. In fact, we bought it primarily for him to take with him for any overnight trips when he is away from us. Additionally, we blocked use of the Internet and texting on his phone.
Many parents are worried about cell phone use. Stories abound of teens who have gotten in trouble for sexting, sending sexual messages or photos via cell phone. Recently we received these tips for parents who are worried about cell phone issues such as sexting, bullying, and sexual predators.
- Learn the lingo. Learn the pre-established acronyms like LOL, TTYL, and BRB.
- Invade their text space. Text your kids constantly so they consider their phone a space where you are present and watching.
- Set “no-text” times and other boundaries. Don’t allow kids to text constantly; they shouldn’t text at the dinner table and a curfew should be set. Clearly set boundaries of what is inappropriate.
- Limit use. Choose a plan that keeps track of how many texts can be sent and received.
- Read text faces. Just like verbal communication, nonverbal cues are important. Text faces help you tell if someone is disturbed or joking.
- Monitor other messaging forums. Sexting doesn’t start and end with texting. Monitor IMs, e-mails, photos, and other digital forums.
For more about preteens and cell phones, read the 9 to 12 Years Growth Spurt "Can I Have a Cell Phone?" in the January 2010 issue of ParentLife.
At what age will you buy your preteen or teen a phone?
*Information provided by Predicto Mobile.