How do parents balance a child’s social and safety needs with the dangers that come with unrestricted access to a communications device? LAURENCE SEBERINI proposes a clear contract with the child.
‚I need a cellphone, mom/dad. All my friends have one, and I am the only one who can’t chat on BBM. I feel so left out and I am going to lose all my friends. I don’t know why you won’t get me one, its soooooooooooooooo much cheaper chatting on BBM and you will save so much money because I will use less airtime.‚
Does this sound familiar? As a parent, you are most definitely not alone. Every child/teenager in South Africa wants a cellphone and most probably a BlackBerry (in fact, most adults would fall into this category as well). The reasons vary from ‚cheaper chatting‚ to ‚so many functions‚ to ‚fitting in with the crowd‚ . Whatever the REAL reasons, the fact remains: Owning a cellphone or, specifically, a Blackberry in South Africa is the passport to some sort of cell phone Nirvana. Most BlackBerry owners in South Africa ‚ unlike the North American market ‚ will sing the device’s praises from morning to night. Very few phones enjoy the owner loyalty that a BB does, and the BB following in South Africa can be compared to the herd-following tweens obsessing over Justin Bieber.
Remember, if you are paying for the phone, contract or airtime, not only can you call the shots, but you have a moral obligation to do so.
A model contract is provided on the Cellphone Safety web site (http://www.cellphonesafety.co.za) web site. You can download it directly from here (http://www.cellphonesafety.co.za/uploads/3/6/3/1/3631531/parent_child_cellphone_contract_version_1.doc), amend it as you see necessary, and print it out for your child to sign.
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