Cell phone rules of conduct
Jan. 14, 2013
by Jenni Sebora

My third-grade daughter informed me last week that most – if not all – of the fourth-graders in her school have cell phones. (Is she trying to prep me early?)

Wow! Times have changed. I am sure my parents said that, as well, when I was a child.

When my mom lived with us, I had to remind her often of how to use the television remote control. She did not even grow up with a television, much less a remote control for one.

Of course, the key for all of the new technology around us is boundaries and guidelines for use.

Two of my children have cell phones with Internet access, which creates more importance for boundary guidelines – web browsing, Facebooking, texting, tweeting, face timing, Skypeing, and the list goes on. I can’t keep up with all of the functions one can do just on a cell phone that is 2-inches-by-4-inches in size.

Growing up, I used a dial telephone that was hooked up to the wall, with a cord that only allowed one to really just sit in one place while talking – and only talking. And there was only one phone for the entire family. We all survived.

When I was a teenager, we put in an extra extension, and that was exciting. I could now talk to my friends in the privacy of my basement – and only the basement, as the phone was still anchored to the wall.

I do appreciate what cell phones can do for us, however. They allow us to keep in communication with our children and others – to know where they are and how they are doing, but with the good may come some bad. That is why parents must put some rules in place for cell phone use.

One mother on Facebook revealed her rules of usage for her children. I rather agreed with them all. Number-one on her list was, “It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I great?”

That is what our kids should say about us, for buying and loaning a phone to them for their use, “Aren’t I great?”

Most of the rules that this mother listed, I have in place, as well. I often have to do rule reminder checks with my kids, but there were a couple that I thought I would add to my cell phone guidelines for the Sebora children.

One that I often tell my children, but have not put in the official Sebora cell phone guideline book is, “Put your phone away in public, especially while speaking with another human being. Remember, you are not a rude person. Do not allow your phone to change that.”

I do tell my kids, when in our vehicle and they have actual human beings sitting next to them, especially those whom they have invited, such as friends, they should interact with the friends. Do not ignore them, as you are texting a different friend who is not sitting right next to you. That is just plain rude.

My number-one rule is, if the phone rings, answer it, especially if it comes up as “mom” or “dad.” My kids know that if they don’t answer the phone when I call them or they don’t call me back quickly if they could not answer it (maybe they were using the restroom), phone privileges are lost for a while.

Of course, don’t be plastered to the phone, so you don’t see and enjoy the world around you. That can happen with a phone. Sometimes, I feel that kids (adults, too) get lost in their phone world and forget about everyone else and everything else around them.

While cell phones can help with communication in certain situations, and can help alleviate some parental fears as far as safety, these mobile devices can also do the opposite.

It is important that we set guidelines and that we remind our children cell phones should not take the place of face-to-face communication. In fact, we should also remind our children that if they cannot, or would not say something face-to-face, then it is not appropriate to say on the phone or in text.

Also, cell phones should not take the place of all other hobbies. Exercising, playing, and interacting with others and their world is still ultra important.

Our kids need reminders of this, and maybe we adults do, too.

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