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Cell phone parent-child contract

May 12, 2015
Patrick Ward , MOV Parent

The majority of the U.S. population has smartphones now, and more preschool kids know how to work smartphones than know how to tie their own shoes according to TheAtlantic.com. We've entered a new era, parents! It's an era in which parents must step up and hold their children accountable for the privilege and responsibility of using the available technology. According to recent surveys, 70 percent of U.S. teens own their own iPhone!

To address the issues brought about by teens with smartphones, a mother recently developed the following "service contract" with her teenaged son. I encourage you to create something like this for your family!

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?

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2. I will always know the password.

3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads "Mom" or "Dad". Not ever.

4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 p.m. every school night and every weekend night at 9 p.m. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 a.m. If you would not make a call to someone's land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It's a life skill.

6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.

7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay out of the crossfire.

8-9. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

10. No porn.

11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else's private parts. Don't laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear - including a bad reputation.

13. Don't take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO - fear of missing out.

15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.

16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds.

Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.

18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

For more on the story of the mother, Janelle Hoffman, who came up with this list, see abcnews.go.com/US/massachusetts-mom-son-sign-18-point-agreement-iphone/story?id=18094401

Patrick Ward, Ph.D. is a marriage and family therapist in Parkersburg. Visit his website at patrickwardphd.com

 
 

 

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