This year, LIRON SEGEV, aka the Techie Guy, gives his child a cellphone, but not before setting a few ground-rules. Here are a few of them that he believes every parent should follow before handing over the device to their youngster.
I am about to give my kids their own cellphone. I have resisted, but with the way the world (and their class mates) are evolving, not giving my kids a cellphone may be more harmful to their development than any ‚”damage‚” they may encounter.
But, I am not ‚”just handing over a cell phone‚”. As a parent, I still have a duty and obligation to teach and protect my kids.
I could do the techie-thing and just block everything, put monitoring software on the phone etc. but that will not teach my kids anything. In fact, this kind of practice just teaches kids how to get around your strict rules. Ever see what happens if you take a child’s cell phone away? They simply find ways around it, like using free online text services to send free SMS or do a SIM swap and put their new SIM into a friend’s phone.
So I am in favour of teaching my kids about the proper usage of technology and the danger that are is out there. My children are young, so some of these rules are strict and can be relaxed for older ones. It is a fine line between parenting and privacy and this line needs to be set by each parent. Here are mine for now:
10 Non-Negotiable Cell Phone Rules for Kids
The phone will have a password so that no one can pick it up and play with your apps, send e-mails on your behalf, update your status etc.
This password will be known by Mom and Dad at all times. The same applies for any e-mail addresses, YouTube Channels, Facebook accounts and photo sharing sites. We will also be ‚”friends‚” to all of these and see everything that is uploaded.
2. Friends/ Contacts:
You will never accept and friend anyone you don’t know personally. This is especially true for BBM, WhatsApp and Facebook. There are loads of psychos out there who try to friend youngsters.
The ‚”Don’t talk to strangers‚” rule applies for mobile phone too.
Very important: You will never get into trouble for reporting ANY suspicious behaviour, as well as any behaviour that scares or worries you. If you made a mistake come tell us about it and we can deal with it. Do not try to hide it as it.
3. Time and a Place:
The phone will be put on charge and switched off every evening at 7:00pm. The chargers will be in the kitchen and not in your bedroom. The last thing before bed-time should be a book and not a BBM.
Forget about it now. The phone does not travel to school. I don’t care that all your friends take their phones. All your friends are right there on the playground look up and talk to them.
There is no reason to Group Chat with the same people that are on the same field.
Special Permission will be granted to take your phone to school on days where Mom and Dad feel you need to have a phone such as when not sure when your sporting event will end. On those days, the phone will be handed in at school as school rules dictate.
5. Take Care:
The phone is not free – it is a privilege. Treat the phone as if it’s the only communication device left in the world. You break it, you pay to have it repaired. It’s my phone that I am lending to you.
The phone is not an excuse to be rude, hurtful or mean. A text or a BBM is the exact same as verbally saying it out loud.
If other people are being mean and hurtful to others on their phone, behave as you would in real life. Do not be part of the conversation. Report all bullying instantly.
If I check your phone, there should be nothing in there that I would be horrified to find. If you are not sure: ask yourself if you would be happy to say it out loud in the room with me listening‚Ä¶if there is a doubt don’t say it.
The Internet is full of pornography, and when you stumble on it Mom and Dad will be here to answer questions. The rubbish from your friends ‚”who know‚” is nonsense and your phone is not the tool to find out Yes, it is going to be embarrassing to ask Mom and Dad, but we will never mock the question or shy away from it and will give you the info you want.
Do not, under any circumstances, take photos of yourself. FULL STOP. This is known as Sexting. I am fully aware that there are people out there who do these stupid things, and since you are not stupid, do not be one of those. As a rule, assume that any picture that you take or that someone takes of you with your phone will be on the front page of the newspaper and shown to everyone at school.
Do not take photos of other people’s embarrassing situations. If someone falls, hurts themselves the correct reaction is to help, not put it on YouTube. You would not like your face plastered all over YouTube.
You live in the real world not behind the phone camera. Yes, take pictures, but don’t forget to enjoy where you are, and enjoy the people you are with. You are not a documentarian not every single thing that happens need to be uploaded somewhere.
The phone is your responsibility. This not only includes what happens to the phone itself but the actions that you do with it. Remember that every action has a consequence.
10. Experience and Experiment:
The phone is a tool and a gateway to the world. Use it that way. Be curious enough to look stuff up. Don’t just accept everything people tell you. Think for yourself and use the phone to Google answers to questions. Play games that are fun and games that stimulate your mind. Use the phone to empower yourself with information. Be a responsible part of society and the world you live in.
* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at www.thetechieguy.com or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev
* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA