Children using cell phones and tablets are increasing at a pace that parents can hardly keep up with. As the director of a childcare center that cares for school-age children; I am seeing more and more of them being given technology to use, as they like. Recently, I looked on one of the children’s ipads to see violent games. Several of the children have Facebook pages and lied about their birthday so they could set it up. One parent actually set it up for the child. When I talked with her she stated that she monitored it. I asked her how she could monitor what he saw on others pages and the chat. Also, many of the games are played on line with others. These games are breeding grounds for predators.
My grandson is getting ready to start middle school in the fall and I have decided to give him my old iPhone. He will not have a cellular plan, but can use all of the features with Wi-Fi. Protecting him from violence, predators, and his innocence is a big deal to me as it should be to any parent. To this end, I decided I needed to put in the research to set limits and rules.
He will not be able to download applications, because I have password protected it. Therefore, his parents can monitor the degree of violence. There will be no Netflix for him to choose inappropriate shows. His phone will not be able to download Facebook. If he abuses his camera, I can block it and many other things. You can also learn how to do all this and more at Apple Support.
I have seen the below rules often on Facebook and shared by many parents. I wonder how many have actually ever used them. I decided to review them and tweak them to meet the individual needs of my grandson. I plan to type them up, laminate them, have a family meeting with him and his parents, and hang them on his refrigerator after he signs them. This is little time to put in for a big payoff! The rules are as follows:
- I will always know the password. While you live under my roof, there will be no privacy when it comes to the use of this phone.
NEVER use Facetime without asking me first and NEVER ignore a call from me.
- Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at ______ every school night & every weekend night at ______p.m. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 am.
- If you would not make a call or text 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.
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.
- 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, and stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
- 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 heck out of the crossfire.
- Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
- Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
- No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person; preferably your parent.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Use this gift to find Christian music. Remember what goes in will come out in your behavior.
- 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 goggling.
- You will mess up. Your parents will take away your phone. They will sit down and talk about it. You will start over again. You and us, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together. Click here for more information.
Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.