Teens and Cell Phones
With the age for kids to get cell phones moving younger, we are alarmed about those ramifications. Families share with us heartbreaking stories about the negative, unexpected consequences of their children’s cell phones. These are particularly in the areas of time wasted on the phone, negative influences by others, and boy/girl relationships before the time is right for them. Once these addictions, texting, and social media relationships are established, pulling them back is at best, difficult, and at worst, impossible.
From our perspective, as we evaluate these stories, the parents didn’t anticipate the potential problems, prepare for them, and communicate well with their children about them. Things were good in their home – solid relationships and children who were obedient. The phone was given as a practical tool but soon morphed into an engaging allurement that pulled the child’s heart into anything from many wasted hours to other untold evils.
In the past, we were concerned about the influence of TV, movies, and videos games in conservative, Christian homes and shared warnings with you about that. Now an even greater danger is trolling for your children.
“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3). Is there any way to avoid your child falling into the evil clutches that can come with cell phones? We aren’t fully sure about that, but we think Proverbs encourages an attempt. Sometimes it seems hopeless, but if we were parents with children at an age to get a cell phone, we would sure try. Here are some thoughts about it.
Does your child really NEED a phone? We remember the years with our children growing up and how they didn’t get driver’s licenses until they truly needed one. At that point, they were earning income to either buy their own car or pay their share of the insurance and car maintenance. While this wasn’t the norm for teens and driving, it sure protected our children in many ways. Just because everyone else has a phone does not mean it is the right or best choice for your child.
Think through the boundaries and parameters for your child having a phone and set them out clearly, even in writing. If you don’t want your child texting or communicating via the phone with friends of the opposite sex, let them know that up front. If there are apps you don’t want them to use, state that, or perhaps simply state what apps they can use. What about how much time can be spent on the phone?
Research and consider installing protection and accountability on your child’s phone. We like Accountable2you, and our adult children chose to use that while living in our home. However, it is accountability not protection. We tried several protection plans but couldn’t find one that was reliable and didn’t lock our children regularly from the Internet. Our children were young adults at this time and needed the internet for their livelihood. So we moved from protection on the phone to accountability.
If you want to look at your child’s phone sometimes, agree on the password, and then look at the phone regularly, so they expect it. Even if you are not concerned about anything at the time, if you wait until you are, it will be hard for your child to turn his/her phone over to you for your perusal.
Communication and Relationship
Ultimately what your child does on his/her phone grows out of your solid relationships and hopefully their desire to please the Lord. They will not want to follow your rules and counsel if they don’t respect you and your guidance. That’s part of a heart relationship with your children.
Communication is key in those relationships. Don’t assume your child knows and understands your concerns and the dangers of the phone. Communicate clearly and often what the phone is for and what your concerns are about it and its dangers.
Please dear sister, the potential evils are so big with teens and cell phones. Don’t think it will all be fine and then be blindsided when the unthinkable happens. Be proactive if you allow your teen to have cell phones.