Teens and Cell Phones
The best way to find out how a particular phenomenon is affecting people … is to ask! Over the last couple of months, I have been asking the following question to moms, teachers and, grandmoms: “How do you think the use of cell phones is affecting our children and teens?”
Here are the types of answers I have been getting.
- “Kids are losing the ability to relate to people in person.”
- “Teens cannot spell anymore because they abbreviate while texting and typing.”
- “I just do not understand why she cannot ignore her phone while she is with me.”
- “It’s great to be able to touch base with my kids no matter where they are or what they are doing.”
- “Right in the middle of a conversation, she’ll ignore me to text a friend — so rude.”
- “We were actually at the dinner table, and he was texting. I wanted to grab the phone and throw it out the window.”
- “It gives me peace of mind, knowing they can instantly contact me if they need me.”
- “I may get less information from my grandchildren, but they do contact me more because texting is easier for them.”
- “I think children are not learning how to have real relationships with depth because they can hide behind a screen.”
- “It scares me because I don’t know how to be sure my kids will not use their phones while driving.”
In my discussions with these adults, what was interesting to me was that in almost every instance, there was an undercurrent of thought that because cell phones were not a part of the adult’s life while growing up, they feel unable or inadequate in how to advise children and teens in that area.
I quickly reminded these perplexed adults that we are still the grownups here, and we know how to teach children to do the right thing, think of others first, and use good manners. More importantly we do need to teach children and teens to respect their elders and do what they ask, even if they do not agree … or think it’s ridiculous.
During our little discussion time, I tried to encourage the individual I was speaking with to be bold in dealing with children and teens on these subjects. Just because cell phones and texting were not part of your childhood does not negate your responsibility (and right) to advise and teach kids based on your observations.
If you would like to speak into the lives of kids on this subject but you are not quite sure where to start, I suggest you do just what I did and ask your children how they think the use of cell phones is affecting them and their peers.
In our home, we have had many discussions with our teens about the danger of allowing the use of cell phones and computers to replace real relationships. We have had some great dialogue with them about how life just doesn’t work that way. They readily agree that if you want a real relationship with someone, you have to do that in person. They acknowledge that the various electronic means to connect and touch base with friends were weak replacements for real time. They recognize that they prefer to spend real time with real friends and grow in real relationships.
We have even agreed to a few “rules” at our home, and we constantly speak to the subject of cell phone etiquette and challenge our teens to police themselves and notice when they are frustrating adults around them due to what the adult sees as improper cell phone usage.
Our rules for our teens and their cell phones:
- No cell phone use after 9:00 or 10:30 at night. (different times on different nights)
- No cell phones at the dinner table.
- No cell phones when company comes over.
- No cell phone use while driving. It must be closed and sitting on the seat beside you.
- When spending time with people, don’t use your cell phone to text or talk to other people.
- When out, text us as to how the fun is progressing and where you are headed when switching locations.
Remember, moms, we are called to train up our children in the way they should go … even when they are going places we have never been!