Why Parents Should Be Checking Teens’ Phones
It’s an awkward conversation, but it needs to happen.
I love being a parent.
I really believe it’s one of the greatest gifts God has given me.
My family is my life. Some days I think I’m doing pretty good as a dad. Other days, I think I’m not doing all that good.
Regardless of how I feel I’m doing, I have a tremendous privilege to parent my kids and I love doing that with my wife.
But, it’s really hard. And, I find, it gets harder the older my kids get. I know you’re probably saying, “no duh, Sherlock,” but it’s hard.
Why is it hard?Life is crazy. Intentionality is tough. You have to be consistent. Kids grow up. They question. Friends influence them. They crave freedom. They’re becoming more independent. Life is busy. Life is rushed.
There are so many reasons it’s hard. But I’m finding in the midst of all that, I can’t take my foot off the parenting pedal.
One of the areas that has been pushed to the top of the parenting importance list is …
My kids’ cell phones.Yes, two of my four kids have cell phones. My 14-year-old daughter and my 11-year-old son. They obviously love having iPhones. Although, they have older models and remind me of it all the time … but, I really don’t care. Ha!
But, I love technology. I mostly got them phones for our convenience and so we could get ahold of them whenever we needed too.
Obviously, that’s not out of the ordinary nowadays with 83 percent of middle school students having a phone.
So far, it’s a good investment. I like having that safety net when they’re staying at friends’ houses, when they have practice after school or when I’m late picking them up from school.
It’s worked out well so far.
But, as I lead parenting workshops and talk with parents, there is a common question that comes up …
Should I be checking my kid’s phone?And my short, quick and loud answer is always …
YES! Yes and more Yes!I’ve had parents tell me that their kids wouldn’t like that. NO DUH!
It doesn’t matter. You have to check their phones. And, more than that, you have to lay down the phone expectations. And do it continually. Remind them that you pay the bill, they are under 18, your job is to protect them and you will be checking their phones whenever you want.
If you’re new to this idea, here are a couple of starting points to think about:
1. Realize that you’ve given your kids a computer. They will only use 10 percent of the time to actually talk! And I don’t know if you call what they do on the phone talking! Unless, you’ve given them a flip phone from years past.
But today’s phones are computers. So, you must set up some Internet protection. You can do that right on an iPhone.
Recently, one of my son’s friends looked at something inappropriate on YouTube on their phone. As soon as my son came home, he told me about it. Why did he tell me about it? Because I’m talking to them all the time about what’s appropriate and inappropriate. Make sure you are protecting them by setting up some Internet filters.
2. Talk through the privilege of having a phone. And don’t just do it once. Do it all the time! Recent surveys are showing teenagers would rather give up their sense of smell or their pinky finger than give up their phones! It’s important to them.
It also should be important to you. Every single week, remind them that you pay the bill and it’s not free. That means they need to help around the house or whatever you come up with. Remind them that you will be checking it.
3. Teach your son or daughter phone etiquette. Teach them how to be respectful on the phone. Teach them that even though they can’t see the person they’re texting, that doesn’t give them the right to be nasty, mean or a bully. Give them the skills to use their phone properly.
It’s really a big deal. Moms and Dads, I can’t implore you enough, be checking your kids’ phones.