On Thursday our world changed forever when the UPS man rang our doorbell. Our tween daughter’s cell phone arrived. She’s ecstatic. But if the first 6 hours of her having a phone are any indication, we are in for a rude awakening.
No more than 2 hours after we activated her phone number, she received a collect call from an inmate at the local prison. Then, she texted somebody, but she had the wrong number and we had to tell her to stop texting with a stranger. Later, she somehow left two voicemails for a family member while she was on the phone with somebody else. I didn’t know that was technologically possible! Finally, I got a text from her grandma (my mom) asking if someone in our family got a new phone because she had received an undecipherable voicemail from our area code.
Welcome to the digital world, parents of tweenagers.
Let me share just a few things that we’re doing to help our daughter be smart about her phone.
- The only reason she has a phone now is because she bought it herself. She worked and saved by babysitting and mowing the grass. She also pays the monthly bill. Having a phone is a privilege, not a right.
- We have access to her passcodes, texts, voicemails, social media accounts, everything, and we have the right to check her phone whenever we want.
- No cell phones in the bedroom after bedtime.
- No phones at the dinner table.
- No answering phone calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
- Ignore and delete texts from people you don’t know.
- No Instagram or Snapchat, yet.
- Express confidence in her ability to be smart about her smart phone.
I may have a PhD in this stuff, but I’m still a struggling, bumbling parent, trying to do my best and to not screw my kids up too much. I worry about my kids all day long. I worry about bullying and human trafficking and drunk drivers and all the other things that could harm my daughter. Just like you. At the end of the day, though, it helps me to remember what my dad always told me: “All you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough.” So, my scientific advice for parents like me? Just be a parent. Set some rules. Do your best. You’ll make mistakes, but your kids will turn out fine.
Oh, and never answer the door when the UPS man knocks.
What other rules do you use, or would you add to my list? Any success stories?