A Parent writes:
My soon to be freshman son is DYING for an iphone. My issue is it will become too addictive for him...twitter, facebook and who knows what else. He uses his computer in the family room at home and often uses my iphone while we're driving. His tutor suggested to me that he have a smartphone for high school as teachers will text or email during the day which books to bring to class and coaches do the same thing with last minute instructions (really? sounds like lack of planning to me, and I have to accommodate that?) Also concerned with inappropriate content which I don't know whether you can sufficiently filter on an iphone. We were enjoying the beat to a new song last week,. I asked him if he had seen the new video. He googled it on my iphone while I drove, and the first link that came up was the unrated version. Basically same as clean version except the girls are all naked! A good opportunity for conversation but really, I was a tad aghast and he seemed genuinely surprised as well, and his 19 year old brother was in the back seat cracking up hysterically. I don't have any filters on my phone though I see that I should. I'm considering rewarding him with the phone after first semester high school if academic goals are met, and usage hinges on academic goals.Of course he's the "only one" without a smartphone. Actually from what I see from his peers. he is one of the few holdouts.
First let me address the should I question. Schools are just not making it easy for parents to have much control these days when it comes to electronics. Teachers and coaches sending emails during the day to students? Don't even get me started. Talk about feeding into the addiction of checking emails a thousand times a day! But reality is reality. I think this parent has absolutely the right approach. If you are feeling like your teen is really at a disadvantage or fighting against the "everyone else has one" is getting harder and harder, than you're only saving grace is to enforce very strict usage, and try not to let the addictive nature get the best of your child. The good news is that if it's abused, you can always take it away, and just give them back their basic phone. However, this means that you need to be a VERY consistent and on-top of it kind of parent.
I do think fancy phones should be tied to effort. I'm not so much a grade person, but effort means doing homework, studying for tests, and getting projects in on time. These things are easily monitored by asking teachers for regular reports. Don't wait for mid-semester warnings to come out. Check in with each of your teen's teachers monthly. Immediate consequences are the ones that work the best. Phones should be given/taken during a 2 hour non-usage time every single day!!!!! This is to give teens the experience of quiet time whether for homework, TV with you, reflection, or studying their navel.
Be your teen's app guru. Everything come through you. You should be the gatekeeper of downloads. Do not give your teen apple ID, or pass code to download...ever! Teen must also give you password to unlock phone. No password, no phone, it is as simple as that. You will still need to be monitoring what and how they are using the phone.
And finally here is an article that provides the apps that give parental controls on your teens phones. Use them!!!http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407509,00.asp