Whose Phone Is It?

Recently at my youngest’s annual well-check with the doctor, the doctor asked the amount of daily screen time allowed. When I mentioned screen time is based upon grades and phones are taken at bedtime, the doctor stated we should share what we do with other parents.

This is not the first time someone as said something similar.

Other parents have mentioned they could never take a phone from their child. After all, it was given to their child, making it theirs. A comment that often confounds me as does a parent who doesn’t learn about, nor use, restriction options on phones.

Recently, a policeman said something to the effect taking a phone from a teen often causes rife and anger. This I also found a little confounding as it seemed as if he meant because it causes issues, a parent should not take the phone away, meaning potentially, the child is in charge, albeit the child may be a teen.

There is something inherently imbalanced to me when a parent feels they can’t or shouldn’t confiscate a phone from their child for poor behavior, choices or grades. Since so many consequences or discipline options have been taken away in today’s society, a parent must be very creative to make an impression. Taking a phone is one of them.

I always remind the other parent during these types of conversations, as gently as possible, the phone does not belong to the child. The child is a minor, the phone has almost always been purchased by the parent, and almost always the phone is being paid for by the parent (even if the child is paying for it him- or herself, the parent, to me, still has the right to confiscate the phone). Therefore, the phone is really only being lent to one’s child and can be returned to the owner at any time.

For us, in general, grades and behavior should meet our expectations. In regards to grades, if all A’s/B’s, then phone can be kept until 8:00 and all day on the weekends. For C’s/D’s, phone can be kept until dinner time and one weekend day. Any F’s and phone is turned in to the first dad arriving home with no time on the weekend. Behavior or disrespect can see the phone confiscated immediately following the behavior.

Do we get pushback, anger and upset over this policy? Of course, but we stick to it. Is it a perfect system? No, but no system ever is or will be. However, it does have an impact most of the time in terms of improving/maintaining grades and behavior expectations.

There are times, honestly, where I wonder if providing a cell phone was or continues to be a good idea. And this is coming from someone who sees the value of technology to enhance communication, learning, and enjoyment. However, I also see the downside of losing face-to-face communication, arguments over data usage, signing up for social media sites without permission and inappropriate pictures/postings on social media. Although the latter items can also be teachable moments.

I’m also one of those parents who will periodically check to see what is being texted, received, sent and taken for all of my children as well as requiring all login names/passwords for permitted sites.

Many parents may find this an invasion of privacy.

However, in this day and age, it is a safety concern for me (and I’ll say really should be a concern for any caretaker), as they have not learned to be cautious of what they say or share, thinking only the one receiving things can see what has been sent. They also haven’t fully learned what is appropriate or not appropriate to share, or if a source of information or friend request is legitimate. Checking helps decide what conversations we need to have to keep them, and others, safe.

How do you handle phones and safety for your child?

One thought on “Whose Phone Is It?

  1. I totally agree with you. I cite recent news where a teenager in Dallas was ready to go into a mall and shoot innocent people because he had been recruited to ISIS by watching videos and engaging in chats with people he thought were part of ISIS. His mother had no idea what was going on. There are numerous accounts of children being contacted by sexual perverts and some being kidnapped. Do I think this happens to every child who has a phone or is on the Internet unsupervised. Absolutely not!! Do I think that parents should step in and make those hard decisions that make them unpopular with their children? I absolutely do. Children are not able to make wise decisions without guidance, practice, and supervision. Children are precious gifts that should be cherished and protected and if that means being “the mean parent” then so be it. I also commend that all of your children know the rules well before they are enforced and know what the consequences will be from both of their parents. Thank you for sharing this post.


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