Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Pre-teen and a Cell Phone

One of the hardest decisions I have made from a parent's perspective is getting my 11 year old son a cell phone.  My opinion on parenting is not of the norm and that concept fell right in line with my pre-teen child having a cell phone.

Here is where I stood before I made the decision:  I didn't need a cell phone until I was doing a lot of things away from my parents.  It was meant to be a way for me to get a hold of them when needed and to contact my friends in lieu of a home phone.  In my home, we have a home phone.  To keep up with the texting hype, I allowed my son to get a Facebook so that he may "text" via that ap on our iPad.  So far, that has worked out very well.  When ever he asked when he would get a cell phone like his friends, we always replied, when we felt he needed it.  My intentions were always when he would start staying after school or something along that nature.

Here's what happened to push me to considering a cell phone for an 11 year old!
6th Grade happened.  Apparently, I am the ONLY one that doesn't think it's normal for a pre-teen to have a cell phone permanently attacked to their hand...ugh!!  So, whatever, my kid doesn't have a cell phone....he understands why...so I assume we are gonna make it.  His dad and I start talking about maybe getting one for his birthday in April...MAYBE! (we are running out of gift ideas for this one anyway!).  So, no trouble, right??  WRONG!  The STAFF at his school have decided that it's also normal for pre-teens to have cell phones.....so they have decided to start using apps...for assignment notification....ones that my son will be required to check daily.  Well one of two things is about to happen....1-I am about to share my phone with my son (I already share a computer with him and intend to buy him one very very soon...because this sucks!)...or 2-I am going to have to get my son his own phone!

Here's where I ended up:  Getting my my pre-teen a cell phone!!!  I can't share my phone with him!  I already have some of his friends texting me....forgetting that it is my phone...ugh...I've hated it!  Same deal with my app games....Frankly, I am not a good sharer!  For a little while I felt like I was caving in.  Like I was giving into peer pressure about how to parent to my son.  That led to much research....and the asking of opinions from other parents I trust.

I decided...well, we decided that we give in and get the boy a cell phone.  He is the oldest and could use some real testing in the responsibility department.  We broke down and got him an iPhone 4s (he's cool...I know!).  We also made him sign a contract.  This contract strictly states what I expect out of him in regards to how he uses his cell phone.  I read up on several "contracts" shared in the internet world.  There was one I really like that talked about the parents not wanting the child to become addicted or reliant on the phone for social interaction.  I didn't add something like this in my son's because I intend to teach him this by example.  I truly believe that our children learn more from us then any one wants to admit.  Take my kids' sheer genius in sarcasm for example....these kids are hilarious and use terms above what should be their understanding...and they do so very correctly!  They get that from my witty example ;)

Here is a copy of the contract we had our son sign before handing him his cell phone.  It is short, sweet and I think very too the point!

By signing this contract I, NAME, agree to the following items:
1. I will not use my phone to search for inappropriate material
2. I will not use my phone to take inappropriate pictures or videos
3. I will not text inappropriate text messages or participate in "sexting"
4. I will not use my phone to bully, tease or other wise be meant to another person
5. I will not text, call or use my phone after 9 p.m. without permission from my mom or dad
6. If my mother, father, or grandparents call me I will answer immediately
7. This phone belongs to my parents and can be taken away if I break this contract
8. I will respect this phone by keeping it safe and free from harm's way
9. If I break this phone, I understand I will pay to fix it
10. If I lose this phone, I understand I will pay to replace it
11.  I will not download anything to my phone without permission from a parent
12. I understand this phone is a privilege and that privilege can be revoked

So far, everything is going okay.  We have not allowed him to take it outside of the home unless he is with us.  I am very nervous about it getting broken.  Just a couple of days ago he went to a MLB game with a friend of ours and I had him leave it at home.  I might let him take it next time...might!

This whole thing makes me a nervous wreck of a parent!

~Happy Parenting

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