Tag Archives: smartphone

Tweens & The Cell Phone Conversation

Back to School shopping has started. Here in Florida, we kick off “tax free weekend,” which allows parents and students to purchase back to school items and pay no sales tax. Items included on that list: clothing, school supplies, computers, tablets, and smart phones! For many parents of tweens, the start of the school year also marks the start of the “cell phone conversation.” Do I get my child a smart phone? If so, what kind of smart phone? What limits do I put on them? Is it yet age appropriate for my child to have a phone?

So, how do you start the cell phone conversation with your child? Or, if you are a teacher or school administrator, how do you advise parents? There are a few ways to get the conversation going and things for you to consider.

Is a smart phone Age-Appropriate?

I feel comfortable telling parents that a child should not have their own device if they are younger than double digits. While I have seen 8 and 9 years olds playing on devices, those devices should ultimately belong to an adult. After the age of 10, however, it becomes a little more challenging. It would be easiest if I could tell parents that X age is the right age for their child to get a smartphone. However, the reality is that every child is different.

Your child is unique in their maturity and tolerance for responsibility. A smartphone is a big responsibility. A few comparable questions: Do I feel comfortable leaving my child home alone for a few hours? Does my child take care of their toys (e.g. clothing, other electronics, etc)? Would I allow my child to supervise other children? These questions tell you a few things: Can my child safely navigate without adult supervision? Can they care for an expensive piece of electronics? Can my child effectively and safely manage and engage with others without adult supervision?

Have a Conversation About the Responsibility of a Smartphone

I know, I know… this sounds so cheesy. But the reality is that, like driving a car, getting a smartphone is a big responsibility. They are entering a new world of freedom and flexibility. One in which they can, likely will (and developmentally should) make some mistakes and missteps. If you want to know more about what kids really “get up to” 13893168079_a584a41d83_bonline, check out danah boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (this link gives you access to a free PDF version of the book). danah’s (yes, she spells it that way) book gives you a realistic look at how children engage with one another online. Here are some questions to discuss with your child:

  • What will you do if you see something that makes you uncomfortable online?
  • What will you do if you think that a friend or a classmate is being mean to you or someone else?
  • How will you react if someone makes you angry online?
  • What will you do if you think you have made a mistake in how you have acted online?
  • What will you do if your phone breaks or gets dropped in water?

This should be realistic conversations. Try not to use scare tactic examples. Pull things from real life:

“One time, Aunt Edna and I got into an argument because she responded to my selfie by saying ‘You look soooo fat!’ It turned out that she was being sarcastic and meant it as a compliment; I had recently lost weight. I thought that she was being mean. We didn’t speak for two weeks because neither of tried to clear up the communication. What could we have done better?”

Set Boundaries for Your Child & Yourself

Boundaries are important in all facets of life, including electronics. Sit down and have a conversation with your child about rules and boundaries for their new device – both for you and for them. Make a physical list that you post in your home. Think of this as an evolving process. Some of these may change as the child gets older or if you or your child feel it needs to shift. Additionally, consider consequences for violating boundaries (loss of a privilege?) Parents, keep in mind that modeling is especially important! A few items for you to consider:

  • Will there be a “no smartphone” time? For example family meals? Homework/reading time?  Family events? Bedtime?
  • Will parents be monitoring smartphone use?
  • When (during the day) is it acceptable to text? For example, what about during the school day? Parents, keep in mind that if you text a child during class-time, you may be enabling behavior you don’t want!
  • What is acceptable to share online? When should you get permission to post or share something?
  • Where will the phone be kept at night? It is often recommended to remove smartphones from children’s bedrooms at night to avoid temptation. Charge them in a parent’s room or a neutral place.

Keep Yourself Informed

Have regular conversations with your child about what they do online. Reinforce the idea that you are a trusted adult and they can come to you when they run into problems. To me, that is the most vital part of tween cell phone ownership – knowing that their parents can and will help them if they find themselves in uncomfortable situations or have made a poor decision. Some great resources for parents:

If you have some thoughts or contributions, please share them in the notes below!

 

Advertisements

Have Mobile Phones In the Classroom Reached Their Calculator Moment?

Some interesting thoughts about cell phones in the classroom.

MUSEUM FATIGUE

High School TI-35 (1980s) High School TI-35 (1980s)

Last week, while reviewing our class syllabus on the first day, I made a decision to do a little experiment. Rather than make the announcement that mobile phones should be turned off during class, I did the opposite. I told my visual anthropology class that unrestricted use of mobile phones in class would be allowed this semester.

Allowing all students to use their devices freely at all times seems very counterintuitive. In fact, even now I am concerned that in spite of my best intentions I will reap the whirlwind. Sometime last month, however, I reached the conclusion that mobile phones in the classroom have reached their “calculator moment.”

Let me explain.

I have a vague memory of debates among teachers back when I was in high school about the place of technology in classroom—specifically the role that calculators should have in math classes. Should students…

View original post 883 more words

Want your kids off their Smart Phones? Then put yours away!

When I was a child I lived in a two story home with my parents and three siblings. Around 7 o’clock, my mother or father would ask the available to child to “go get your siblings for dinner.” We then ran to the stairs and promptly yelled at the top of our lungs, “DINNER!!!” My parents then scolded “Don’t yell!

Walk up the stairs.” But here’s the real kicker, if all of us kiddos were upstairs mom and dad didn’t walk up to get us; no, they stood at the base of them and yelled up as well. No wonder we always ignored their instruction and screamed for one another instead of walking up the steps. We followed our parents’ lead.

I tell this story because as a Tech Director I am often asked by fellow teachers, administrators, and even parents how they can curb a child’s smartphone behavior. The best advice that I can give (and the hardest for adults to follow) is to model the behavior that you expect from a child.

If you want your child to have conversations during a meal, then all phones (not just theirs) should be put away. Pick a designated location that they are stored, preferably outside of the room so that a ding or a buzz won’t distract. If you are going to dinner, bring *one phone* for an emergency. All of the others stay home. The present phone doesn’t sit on the table, it should be put away. I like to zip mine up in a handbag so that it’s not readily available and I can’t pull it out if tempted. If you think that the distractify culture isn’t a problem at restaurants, check out this article written by a New York restaurateur that outlined the impact of cell phones on restaurant turn over.

In addition to meals, pay attention to where else you use your phone. A recent article in the Washington Post reported some disturbing trends in adult use of smart phones; nearly 1/3 used it during a child’s recital or production and more alarming more than 1/2 used it while driving! Likewise, how often in a long assembly have you snuck in a quick text or checked your email (I know I’m guilty of this)?

The reality is that children do learn what they see. Just as we teach children to be courteous (say please and thank you, wait your turn, etc), be sure that you demonstrate and model appropriate and respectful use of your smartphone: don’t read email/texts/social media at the table, don’t use your phone while you’re driving, and certainly do not ignore a child or student (at ballet recitals, school plays, or assemblies) in favor of the device. Not only does this demonstrate to them what courteous smartphone use it, it will provide you some weight when you correct their behavior.