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Parents: The ball’s in your court on cell phones

October 12, 2011
Marshall Independent

Parents in the 21st century have plenty to deal with, much like their parents did when they were kids. But one thing parents of past generations never had to worry about was cell phones - when should they get their kids one, and how do they make sure their kids use their best judgement when it comes to using them.

Cell phones are about as common in our schools today as notebooks, and texting has grown into a massively powerful communications tool among our kids. Cell phones are important, they do serve a purpose as they establish a nearly unbreakable link between parent and child. But a recent Smart Phone Parenting survey conducted by a popular wireless provider shows that one out of every five parents surveyed don't even talk to their kids about cell phone use after buying them one.

That's scary and wrong.

A parent providing a cell phone to their kids, whether they're 8 or 18, and not sitting down with them for a good dos and don'ts conversation is akin to giving them the keys to the car without telling them the rules of the road. It's irresponsible for parents to skip this important conversation, especially when you consider how much kids can do with today's cell phones, how much trouble they can get into with them.

Not establishing any rules means the kids essentially have a new toy with no boundaries. For all they know, there's nothing wrong with texting from their bedroom until 11 at night. And what about texting and driving? The study showed that nearly 82 percent of youth have a cell phone by the time they're 16, which means many will have one before they can drive without a parent sitting in the passenger seat saying, "Hey, put the phone down, you're driving."

If parents don't set strict cell phone rules and enforce them many kids who drive will text while behind the wheel without giving it a second thought. Unfortunately - although youth might be aware of the dangers of texting a driving - a lot of kids already do it, and the very real prospect that it could become second nature means trouble on the road - for the kids doing the texting, their passengers and anyone driving in the vicinity.

We're not telling parents not to let their kids use cell phones, but we strongly encourage them to sit down with their kids and talk about practicing good cell phone habits and even etiquette.

No, parenting doesn't come with a handbook, but you really shouldn't need one when it comes to cell phones and your kids.



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