Author Topic: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)  (Read 1992 times)

Nick_Miller

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Cell phone issues are just like the weekly issue in our household that keep cropping up, and with a 13 y/o and a 9 y/o (both girls), I know this is a decade-long issue for us. And it will keep getting more difficult and more complicated.

Issue #1

We are all addicted to our phones. My wife and I, and our oldest, literally carry them around with us around the house. I called a family meeting last night and we ended up with a rule that phones will now be "housed" at the docking station in our office, so you take them off and put them back one when done, as opposed to just carrying it around like an detached appendage.

I am trying to create "phone times" where they are allowed to have phone/ipad, like 20 minutes in the morning before school, 20 minutes at night, and like 30-60 minutes in the middle of the day (like after school, so they can 'check in' with all their friends). But I already have doubts that this can be sustainable.

What happens if texts go off? I guess we just tell the kids to ignore them? That is REALLY hard for kids the way they communicate. And isn't that like telling a kid 20 years ago that the phone is ringing for them...but they can't answer it? When you look it at like that, it seems really weird, almost cruel. But with iphones, the "incoming calls" don't stop. Texts, and snapchats, and other apps, there is constant activity and communication between kids.

And my wife is not going to ignore text dings because sometimes they are from work, even at night, so there is that issue.

And also I now have to track time windows, which is a lot of work.

And my kids hate the idea, but my youngest admits she is addicted. Last night she said, "Daddy, I'm not mad because I know I have a problem." Yes, it was funny how she said it, but it killed me inside when she actually communicated it to us. So I know something has to be done.

And then there is the issue that...they use their phones for everything. For spell check when doing homework. For youtube when researching stuff for projects. For texting classmates when an assignment is unclear. So...how do I detatch them? I just feel like something has to change. Even when we "watch TV" as a family, all four of us have phones/iPads in our laps? Is this just the new normal??

So...is the better/more sustainable suggestion to just create "phone free times?" Like dinner, and after-dinner game time, and times like that?

And what about letting kids take phones to school? They are NOT allowed out during class, but you know teens...they want to be able to text/play games on the bus rides (which are long and boring, I remember from my own experiences).

Any "big picture" advice or shared experiences from others in a similar boat? I know that 90% of parents have to be going through the same things. And there are MANY other phone issues I'd like to discuss in this thread, but the whole "We are Addicted, What do we Do?" issue seemed to be the logical start.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 11:49:13 AM by Nick_Miller »

driftwood

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I don't have an answer for you. This already something I'm dreading dealing with and my kids are 7 and 4.

Right now they have Kindle Fire Tablets with Freetime on them. They each have an account and are limited to an hour a day on weekdays, two hours a day on weekends. My oldest has already figured out how to switch to his sister's account once he runs out of time, and play on her account. He can't access his minecraft account from her thing, but he can access the other games/videos. It doesn't take away from her time but it drives me crazy that I have to police him now.

I'm looking for good solutions.  What you say is true... the way we communicate now is continuous, among kids and adults both. I have a few people I call, but I use messenger for the rest, and a conversation can go on all day with varying breaks in between replies. It's hard to line that up with a certain window for phone use.

Things you could try:
1. See if there's a way to limit app use other than texts/FB messages/phone calls. That way they can communicate, but they can't be zombieing out on instagram, snapchat, facebook, or youtube.

2. I normally silence all apps except for communication ones. I don't need dings and noises because of a FB notification, or a new post. If your wife silenced all apps that aren't related to work, then she would be able to respond to work messages, but not be distracted by other apps if she kept her phone nearby.

3. Do you have a PC or laptop at home? They can use that for spellcheck, research, homework, calculator, but not for the other time wasters you're trying to avoid. If it's in a public area it's easy to walk by and see if it's homework-related activity on the screen or not.

4. Our kids are usually smarter and more creative than us. Ask them for help coming up with a good solution. It sounds like your daughter already is on the right track. They might have a brilliant idea. Any plan that is more cooperative and less you having to be a phone cop in the house will work much better. You don't want to be the bad guy.

5. You're already doing this, but continue to try out any restrictions you put on the kids. It'll help if they know you're limiting yourself as well, and you'll quickly be able to figure out if the system is too strict or not based on how hard it is for you to follow it yourself.

Nick_Miller

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And the thing is, by the time yours are 13 and 10, things will have changed SO much. Hell, we might all have chips in our arms in 6 years.

The "leading example" thing is probably the best idea for now. I am fine putting away from my phone from 5:30 to 9:30 every night and leaving the text/phone call notifications up loud. That window is already the most hectic, and most important, part of my day. I should be giving my wife and kids 100 percent of my attention instead of browsing this forum as I cook dinner.

I am mostly trying to shift us away from "carry phone with me from office to living room, then from living room to kitchen, then from kitchen to bedroom, etc."

For my teen daughter, her phone is her WHOLE LIFE. So it's hard for me to understand how to pull her away from her...WHOLE LIFE, even if just for an hour or two.

We do have a PC, and yes the kids do heavy duty research there, but for just checking the spelling of a word, they aren't going run across the house and go to the office.

And yes the kids are MUCH more internet/tech savy than are adults. The "app of choice" changes yearly, sometimes more frequently than that. Right now, they still use snapchat a lot but that won't last forever. I don't see how it's possible to stay on top of everything.

A book I've been reading pointed out that, in the past, kids/teens were allowed to have private talks with friends (phone, in person, etc), and just because those talks now happen in apps/texts, that doesn't automatically mean parents should dig into those talks, just because they can. It's such a tough call.


jeninco

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Your kids will really appreciate your understanding and compassion about this.

One thought -- can you have the phones in a central location (rather than in an office) so they can be used at the central location? Our house is built around a kitchen island, so if phones were on the island it would be possible to use them at that spot, without carrying them around. We definitely have no phones at the table during dinner (and always have), and gently tease anyone who spends too much time on a phone during gametime (which is infrequent).

I'd also suggest brainstorming with the kids about evening use -- it seems it's better not to be looking at glow-y screens before bedtime, but they probably really want to be able to interact with their friends at that time. But it'll negatively effect their sleep. So that's a dilemma.

Nick_Miller

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@jeninco, we might be able to move our docking station to the kitchen island too. That would make it easier to hear phones dinging for calls and texts from different parts of the house, and yes I guess they could text for a few minutes while still "tethered there, and then the idea would be that they put it back down and do something else.

We would still have the issue of "squirrel!" meaning that we jump to attention when our phones ding, but really didn't people always do the same when the land line rang? We condition ourselves to respond to certain stimuli, and the stimuli change over time.

And yeah the night-time issue is a problem exactly because of the reasons you mention. Hmmmm.

jeninco

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@jeninco, we might be able to move our docking station to the kitchen island too. That would make it easier to hear phones dinging for calls and texts from different parts of the house, and yes I guess they could text for a few minutes while still "tethered there, and then the idea would be that they put it back down and do something else.

We would still have the issue of "squirrel!" meaning that we jump to attention when our phones ding, but really didn't people always do the same when the land line rang? We condition ourselves to respond to certain stimuli, and the stimuli change over time.

And yeah the night-time issue is a problem exactly because of the reasons you mention. Hmmmm.

Can you mute the phones completely while having dinner (for example)? In general, I try to be sensitive to my kids' needs to connect with their friends, but there are also times when being distracted by one's phone is Not OK.

I'd love suggestions about bedtime/sleeping. We have that as a serious issue here, and I'm not willing to give up with the 14-year old. (I've clearly lost that battle with the 18-year old: he'll have to learn for himself that not sleeping well is an issue.)

MaybeBabyMustache

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I have a 13 year old & a 12 year old boy. A few things we've done:

-They have a shared phone, & are only allowed to have it out when leaving the house (communicating about soccer practice, or whatever). It has no capability beyond calling or texting.
-They do have iPads (from school). They don't text or communicate with friends. The parents still communicate for all planning of events.
-I also make a point of putting my phone in a basket when I come home from work, & charging it. There are days/evenings when that's a bit unrealistic due to work, but largely the case.

I don't know if the variance is their friend(s) groups, or that they are boys vs girls? They've never used: Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They have occasionally texted (we were on vacation with friends, & they texted about where to meet up, etc).

I'd definitely set time limits & have no tech time for your entire family. I work in Silicon Valley & am disappointed with my own technology usage, so I relate personally to the phone addiction. We've just been hyper aware of it with our own kids. I also find that most/all of their friends parents are also super strict about technology usage, and also happen to work in tech.

sol

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This is just a thread about general phone overuse, and not any of the actual problems that phones create for kids?  Just institute some simple rules like no phones at the dinner table (or whatever other family time they need to be off-limits), limit their data usage to a per-month quota, and let them decide how to spend it.  Then be sure to take away all devices at bedtime.  That will get you like 80% of the way there.

But in our family we have encountered much more serious phone related issues than general phone addiction.  Kid takes another kid's phone and takes pictures of their junk and then sends it to grandma.  11 year old on the bus scares the 1st graders shitless with MoMo videos about killing their parents.  Friends "borrow" the phone and then text the little sister that she's a blowjob queen (yes, I had to explain blowjobs to my daughter).  Kids snapchat accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior by teachers at school, triggering mandatory investigations.  Underwear selfies of girls from school (minors) being traded around among boys.  Girls telling other girls to kill themselves because everyone hates them.  Kids with mental health issues they would prefer to keep private being shamed publicly in front of all of their friends on Insta for seeing a therapist.  Kids using game chat to offer in-game rewards for anyone who shoots up the school next week.  Online communications between kids are a complete clusterfuck from every angle, and most adults are basically clueless.

Do you remember that one most horribly embarrassing moment from your childhood?  Maybe you cried in class when your dog died, or asked a stupid question in sex-ed and everyone laughed and you turned bright red?  Maybe you got pantsed in the hallway after school and like six kids saw your 13 year old boner?  Now imagine that moment was captured on a cell phone video and overlain with your name and school and the date, and then the most brutal mocking commentary imaginable, and then shared publicly with a thousand other kids, from your school and every other school in your area.  That shit would haunt you forever.  Childhood ruined!  Parents of kids you haven't even met would call your parents to ask about it.  You'll never get a date.  Future employers will find it when you're 30 by google searching your name.  Kids today live in constant fear of this sort of thing, and with good reason.  Being a kid was already tough, but the internet never forgets.

If the biggest problem your family has with phones is that the kids are too distracted by notifications, you should be thankful.  Just set aside some designated no-phone time for family activities, be sure to keep a watchful eye on their communications, and remind them that you're available to help if they have any questions or problems.

Recently, my 13 year old got her first smartphone and has been sucked down the google news feed rabbit hole of misogynistic movie reviews.  She's still learning how to distinguish reliable news stories from troll pieces, and she doesn't understand that every time she clicks on a clickbait headline the algorithm reads that as a like and then feeds her more of the same.  So she's upset that "the whole world" thinks girls can't be the main characters in movies (star wars, captain marvel, etc) and that these movies are only for boys and that girls are ruining them, both by starring in them and by watching them.  Because there definitely is a corner of the internet that thinks that, and which spreads those stories eagerly, and right now they're all showing up in her news feed each morning.  If I hadn't asked her what she was reading about, she probably wouldn't have mentioned it to me and just assumed that this trash was real news.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 09:02:21 PM by sol »

MrThatsDifferent

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Sol, you have legitimately freaked me out! Wow! None of that was around when were kids so yea, thatís crazy. Kids are so reckless but yeah, kids. I honestly donít know how Iíll deal with this. My current thinking is delay the phone as long as possible. I wonder what MMMís take would be? Youíd have to put limits on right? Itís one thing to try to raise your kid to not be an asshole but then you also need to keep them for the other little assholes.

Hula Hoop

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My 10 year old is campaigning to get a phone next year when she starts middle school.  Several of her classmates already have them and do (IMO) inappropriate things like post Youtube videos about their lives and endless selfies on Instagram.  I don't know what their parents are thinking.

I'm thinking about getting her a "dumb phone" next year so that she can call us if necessary and also installing Whatsapp on our home Ipad, which is connected to wifi only.  She can then Whatsapp her friends while at home.  A friend of mine has done this with her daughter and it seems to work OK.  What scares me is the posting and circulating of inappropriate selfies and things like that and I'm not sure how to prevent this apart from talking/warning children.

Nick_Miller

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2019, 05:27:00 AM »
Sol, well no it isn't just about general addiction. I closed out my OP by saying there are other general cell phone/teen issues I would love to discuss in this thread. I just thought "general addiction" was a good place to start, as parents are generally just as addicted, and since the amount of usage obviously impacts all other usage issues.

That being said, wow your family is definitely experiencing some major usage issues. I have a 13 y/o daughter too, so we're likely experiencing some of the same things. We haven't seen any inappropriate pics (my wife is very good at checking), but there have been some rather raunchy conversations with f bombs and such.

But then again...I am sure I had those conversations in middle school. As you point out, those talks just weren't captured. They took place and then they disappeared into the ether.

I started this thread because I can't imagine there being a more consistent, persistent, and constantly evolving issue for modern parents than this one. I think it deserves continuing discussion.

And I was serious when I talked about implants. When you think about it, it makes no sense to just lug a piece of hardware around in our hand/purse. If we're going to always have the hardware with us, why not just embed it under our skin and just be done with the whole charade of not treating it as an extension of our bodies?

« Last Edit: March 08, 2019, 05:29:49 AM by Nick_Miller »

NonprofitER

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2019, 08:00:42 AM »
Such a difficult issue and I'm following to learn too. Our daughter is not quite 10, but desperately wants a phone (which she won't get just yet), but we've started thinking about all these issues.  Our niece is 14 and I've virtually never seen her go more than 5 minutes without being on her phone.

One thing we did when our daughter was younger (6 or 7yo) was a family-wide "screen fast", which is similar to your proposed solution - only set up for a  temporary basis for the purpose of withdrawal and perspective. The parents in the house [raises hand] were getting out of control with phones in our hands at all times and the then-7 year old was always negotiating for more screen time. So we did the family meeting, agreed to avoid excessive/reactive screen time (no TV/computer/ipad time for the 7yo, adult phones doc'd in the kitchen, only checked when necessary, etc) for 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks, we had another discussion about how it went, why it was hard, etc. and asked the 7 yo to suggest ideas for going forward. She suggested a reasonable amounts of screen time for herself (weekday vs weekend time), etc and some ideas for us parents to avoid having our phones in our hands at all times. It worked reaaaaaally well for a long time (years?!). The negotiations stopped and she effectively developed some self-regulation around TV/ipad time, saying things like, "Well, my hour is up" and turning off the devices without us having to cajole/intervene. Of course, now its been a while and the rules have gotten more ambiguous so the negotiations around screen time are creeping back up.

Now, I'm not saying that would work for her tweenage/teenage self. It was a simpler time when PBS TV shows were mostly what she was after in screen use - not friends/communicating. But I share it to say that having the kids pitch in ideas for a sustainable solution may be helpful. Hopefully they would have buy in if they felt like their ideas were utilized.

Are there age appropriate resources us parents can use to discuss things like compulsive phone checking?

hoodedfalcon

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2019, 08:40:34 AM »
This is something we have been dealing with as well. We have two kids (14YO girl and 12YO boy) who split their time between two houses, which makes things even more difficult since phones and screen time are handled quite differently. Right now only the 14 YO has a phone..the 12 YO doesn't seem to care about phones yet, but he certainly enjoys his screentime/Xbox time. Here is what we do:

Kids get home from school between 4:30-6:30 depending on after-school activities. Boy settles in in front of TV/Xbox and girl goes to bedroom to "do homework" AKA chat/text with her friends on her phone until dinner is ready. We always have dinner together and phones are strictly off-limits at the dinner table. None of us even have them visible while we eat. Adult phones are on silent and we are generally too busy making dinner/catching up that we don't use our phones before dinner. I intentionally set my phone down on the charger when kids get home from school and leave it there until after dinner.

We all sit together and eat and catch up, and we tend to linger most nights just chatting. Kids take turns cleaning up dinner and then they are free to use phones/computers until 8:30PM. Adults usually also use this time to catch up on all things internet. Then all kid electronics come to a charging station in the main living area, and 14YO's phone is set to silent, bc jesus christ the notifications are constant. Then we all chat/visit until bedtime and it is very pleasant.  Adults generally stay off phone/computers after 8:30 as well, unless we are all watching a video together or doing something as a group.

It's not perfect and honestly, it seems we are lucky that they don't protest more about having to get off electronics at 8:30, since at their other house there don't seem to be any rules limiting electronics use. The only times the kids seem to want to engage is when they are "forced" to bc they are not allowed the use of electronics. But part of me wonders if this is just the new normal and everyone is dealing with the same thing. Sounds like that is the case based on what folks are saying here.

To Sol's point, the 14YO recently had a friend commit suicide and there is another friend that has threatened suicide over the last few weeks. The phones and group chats have been used to take screenshots of things said behind other people's backs and there seems to be a lot of teasing/bullying taking place online that has contributed to the suicide and the threat. It's pretty brutal what is going on that we probably don't know about fully. Just last night there was talk about a rumor that a gym coach may have raped a student....in the middle school. This was our dinner conversation, and it was because something someone posted somewhere and it just is so hard to figure out what is real and what is school gossip. And there is no real way to protect them from it when phones are involved.

Nick_Miller

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2019, 08:42:43 AM »
So we had another family meeting last night to discuss this because I realized that creating certain "windows to use phones" would never work. So I flipped it to the more sustainable "windows to not use phones" model.

We will carve out dinner time, including parents.
We will carve out any family tv time (we all watch survivor together, for example).
We will carve out any family game time.
We will carve out any family reading time (where we all grab a book for half an hour).

The phones will "live" in the central docking station on the kitchen island. The expectation is that you might go over and text for a few minutes, but then you pull yourself away (and leave the phone there).  Rinse and repeat throughout the day. I just hope we can do this and improve from our "carry phones around" status quo. The girls were actually VERY supportive of this approach and even the older one understands, intellectually at least, that we need some "no phone" windows in our days.


jeninco

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2019, 08:56:03 AM »
So we had another family meeting last night to discuss this because I realized that creating certain "windows to use phones" would never work. So I flipped it to the more sustainable "windows to not use phones" model.

We will carve out dinner time, including parents.
We will carve out any family tv time (we all watch survivor together, for example).
We will carve out any family game time.
We will carve out any family reading time (where we all grab a book for half an hour).

The phones will "live" in the central docking station on the kitchen island. The expectation is that you might go over and text for a few minutes, but then you pull yourself away (and leave the phone there).  Rinse and repeat throughout the day. I just hope we can do this and improve from our "carry phones around" status quo. The girls were actually VERY supportive of this approach and even the older one understands, intellectually at least, that we need some "no phone" windows in our days.

This sounds enormously healthy!

Don't forget to carve out bedtime.

Also, to respond to Sol's issues (and OMG I'm glad we've mostly not seen some of those) taking a cooperative approach with your kids also allows you to encourage them to talk with you when things that are scary/manipulative/inappropriate/evil show up on their phones. Because it's a phone on your side, but it's the entire internet (including the dark web) on the other end.

And you can remind your kids that they shouldn't send anything over the internet they wouldn't want their grandma to see on a billboard at the edge of her town. Don't take pictures of your junk! If someone else sends you pictures of theirs, either tell you parents (if you're younger) or look at it, smile, and delete it (if you're older). Still tell your parents if it feels manipulative.

If you have OK lines of communication with your kid's friends' parents, you can talk with them separately as issues arise. Also, our kids have very limited data (none, when they piss me off -- Ting makes it easy to turn off data to individual phones, and in any case they have to pay for their data if they go over a tiny bit), and the wireless in the house shuts off their devices at pre-ordained time.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2019, 11:19:42 AM by jeninco »

sol

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2019, 10:11:56 AM »
My current thinking is delay the phone as long as possible.

Yea, that's my recommendation.  They'll complain bitterly about how unfair it is, but it's probably for the best.  If your kid isn't ready to be confronted with a hairy dick pic with the text "you're going to choke on my pubes" over it, then they're not ready for an internet-enabled smartphone.

My 10 year old is campaigning to get a phone next year when she starts middle school.  Several of her classmates already have them and do (IMO) inappropriate things like post Youtube videos about their lives and endless selfies on Instagram.  I don't know what their parents are thinking.

My daughter fell in love with musical.ly on her kindle when she first got internet access.  It's an app that let's kids post videos of themselves singing along to pop songs.  Sounds harmless, right?  We realized she was mostly entranced by videos of ten year old girls in their underwear humping and thrusting and slurping along to very adult lyrics.  It was a pedophile's gold mine.  The stuff she had posted was tame by comparison, but we had to immediately institute a "no posting to social media" rule in our house for anything other than text messages.  No pictures, no videos, nothing.  Then we found out that musical.ly was a popular among the pro-anorexia crowd for posting videos of their emaciated bodies and bragging about how skinny they were.  Yea, we had to shut that one down and she was very angry with us for taking away her favorite app.  Deal with it, dear daughter.  Maybe some day you'll understand.

Just last night there was talk about a rumor that a gym coach may have raped a student....in the middle school.

I work with kids a lot now that I'm retired, and I have become way too familiar with mandatory reporting requirements and the procedures for dealing with reported problems, in a variety of settings.  It's usually not allegations of rape, but things like coaches lingering in the gym showers, or a kid who hates his dad telling his friends his dad punched him and the cops have to go interview the parents.  That's not even considering the kid on kid problems that don't trigger investigations, like the time a 14 year old told a 12 year old he was going to "cut off your head and fuck your neck hole" at summer camp, or the time a kid streaked while singing "I'm an Alabama nigger and I wanna be free" because he saw some stupid youtube video.  The internet is full of unfortunate content, and kids will find it whether you like it or not.  Most of the time, you won't even find out about it.

I don't think there are any good solutions for many of these problems.  Even kids without phones are going to be exposed to this stuff eventually, so it's just a matter of trying to help your kids grow up quickly enough that they know how to deal with it when it happens.  Tubgirl and blue waffle (do not google those!) are going to get passed around the locker room, just like my friends used to pass around old worn-out playboys they swiped from their uncle's closet.  Generally speaking the world is technically safer for kids now than it was then, but I think their potential exposure to disturbing content is astronomically higher these days.  You can't shield them forever.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2019, 10:24:11 AM »
So we had another family meeting last night to discuss this because I realized that creating certain "windows to use phones" would never work. So I flipped it to the more sustainable "windows to not use phones" model.

We will carve out dinner time, including parents.
We will carve out any family tv time (we all watch survivor together, for example).
We will carve out any family game time.
We will carve out any family reading time (where we all grab a book for half an hour).

The phones will "live" in the central docking station on the kitchen island. The expectation is that you might go over and text for a few minutes, but then you pull yourself away (and leave the phone there).  Rinse and repeat throughout the day. I just hope we can do this and improve from our "carry phones around" status quo. The girls were actually VERY supportive of this approach and even the older one understands, intellectually at least, that we need some "no phone" windows in our days.

Agree, this sounds like a good approach. If you don't mind reporting back in a few weeks/month, I'd love to hear how it goes. While we've largely been shielded from these issues to date, I expect them to crop up with more frequency in the next year or so.

driftwood

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2019, 10:40:06 AM »
I think we'll see a fade in the impact of past mistakes caught by the internet. As in, our kids going for job interviews or adults may not have as hard a time as people now are when being googled.

Remember the first sex tape scandal you ever heard of? Nowadays I don't even care or blink if it comes out that someone has a leaked sex tape. Who cares anymore? I wonder what the percentage of people out there have nudes that have been electronically transmitted. Excluding minors, it probably won't even be an issue in the future... yep, the internet has naked photos of me, nope, it doesn't matter.

People in and applying for high visibility positions however, will probably always have that shit haunt them. Comes with the territory. But really, after the scandals we've been seeing, I think we'll get jaded about those too.  Oh a politician solicited a prostitute. Ok... but how does he vote about matters I care about?

jeninco

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2019, 11:47:07 AM »
Partly in response to Sol (but I'm not quoting, because .. yuck!), and partly more things I remembered:
(geez, this is an essay - sorry!)

When one of our kids entered middle school (this was a while ago) he requested an iPhone, with various "I'll be able to reach you" justifications. We discussed this in a conversation meant to tease apart the "I need to reach my parents" from the "I want a status symbol" and eventually all agreed on a used IPod, which was mostly adequate for a couple of years -- he could iMessage his friends and play limited games and listen to music. Turns out the "I need to reach you" issue wasn't really an issue just then.

Also, no one in my house has a phone that cost more than $200: we mostly buy used older (and less-cool) phones. Both kids have jobs: if they want to raise $999 (or whatever) and spend it that way, that's on them. It's their cost/benefit tradeoff to make.

On Sol's stuf (yuck again!): kids can be assholes, as can adults. The Internet can be a stinky place (heck, even threads in the off-topic section of this forum can get fairly nasty from where I'm sitting: no one has threatened explicit violence, but there are plenty of conversations that reduce to "I am entitled to believe that you are lesser because you are female. And don't dare call me sexist!"). You can't control the actions of random people out there, but you can try to set a tone for your kids and your community. Particularly if your kids are minors, you can grab screen images of monumentally inappropriate messages that were sent to them and discuss with the other parents, or the school counselors and administrators, or the police, if they're bad enough.  (YMMV -- I've talked with school safety officers here in Hippistan, and they're into restorative justice.)

We have sons, so we routinely have conversations about treating other people as fully-fledged human beings, not things. If you volunteer with boys/young men, these are conversations that are potentially available for you to have -- how do you figure it feels to be realistically threatened with sexualized violence? Will that person want to engage with you further? Does it make you feel powerful? Is that something you'd say in person? With your grandma in the room?  I do, in real life, have short conversations with my (older) son and his friends about some of these issues if I overhear this type of language -- that's not acceptable in my house or in my presence, and they get to hear (briefly) about why. (I work at home: there are routinely small groups of teenaged boys in the house. And it's a small house -- if they're here, I can probably hear their discussions.)

It hasn't come up in my life, but I'm confident there are analogous conversations to have with young women: are you treating that person as an object? How would you feel if someone talked to/about you that way? What are you getting out of this?

Sol, I'm pretty sure you already did this, but a reminder to other parents: especially for younger teenagers it's helpful to explain WHY (in an age-appropriate way) you are limiting their access to various apps. And possibly having that conversation with their friends' parents as well. It can be as simple as "I want you to be safe and healthy, and there are things going on here that are meant to encourage you not to be.".

And sometimes you have to explain why something is horrible -- the kids just know it's transgressive and gets a response from the adults. Sometimes I think there's genuine ignorance about why nearby adults recoil in horror, just a feeling of power that you got them to do that. So the "Alabama n**" kid might need a history lesson, more then anything else. Or confused-looking persistent questioning <-- I'm a lady of a certain age, I can keep asking "but WHY is that funny?" for a long time.

And in general, it's helpful to explain to teenagers that there are major corporations monetizing their eyeballs. Every time the youtube algorithm successfully gets you to click on another link, someone is getting $, and you're wasting another XXX minutes of your time. You are more than a consumer and an object! No one wants to be used by the system that way.

I'm a big fan of getting kids off their phones/computers and out doing things that involve engaging with other human beings. For my kids, this was soccer (and music). Tying back into another thread in this folder, you might need to help your kids find another thing to do (rather than just forbidding this thing), but it's way easier to have a healthier activity to substitute for all the issues with this one. And if that involves interacting with other (preferably different) living human beings, that's awesome!

mm1970

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Re: All Issues Regarding Tweens/Teens and Cell Phones (could go on forever)
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2019, 01:38:50 PM »
So we had another family meeting last night to discuss this because I realized that creating certain "windows to use phones" would never work. So I flipped it to the more sustainable "windows to not use phones" model.

We will carve out dinner time, including parents.
We will carve out any family tv time (we all watch survivor together, for example).
We will carve out any family game time.
We will carve out any family reading time (where we all grab a book for half an hour).

The phones will "live" in the central docking station on the kitchen island. The expectation is that you might go over and text for a few minutes, but then you pull yourself away (and leave the phone there).  Rinse and repeat throughout the day. I just hope we can do this and improve from our "carry phones around" status quo. The girls were actually VERY supportive of this approach and even the older one understands, intellectually at least, that we need some "no phone" windows in our days.
We still struggle with electonics in general (kindle, You tube, phone, video games).  I've tried limiting times, limiting overall time, etc.  (Kids 12 and 6, 12yo has a phone.)

So far, what seems to have worked the best for me (but will probably change next month), is this:

Rather than say "It's Saturday, you only get 2 hours total of screen time."  I try and schedule things.
Rather than say "You have to stop now and can't play until 3 pm."  I break up the day.

Example: They are playing video games and it's lunch time.  So we make and eat lunch (it takes forever to get the 6 yo to help, but he's busy!)  And then we do *something else* for an hour.  Telling them no screen time for 3 hours is kind of like torturing everyone, but 30 mins to an hour is do-able.  They are perfectly capable of figuring out something to do for that amount of time.

Also - this kind of sucks, but we have full time jobs and weekends are full of chores.  And we both want DOWN TIME.  But we just have to suck it up and play with our kids.  By "play" I mean:
- Make them fold their own laundry
- Make them help with yard work
- Take them to the park or on a bike ride
- Have them help in the kitchen
- Dig out a board game or game of cards
- Pull out a coloring book (this esp works with the 6 yo.  Rather than asking him "what do you want to do??"  I just...pulled out a coloring book and he joined me.
- Dig out the legos.
- Take the kid to the pool.

While we WANT to just veg on the couch on our phones sometimes...and let the kids do the same...it's not a good habit. 
We still suck.
But we are trying.

In the summer and on vacation, I make a long list of everything the kids have to do during the day.  That helps keep them off the electronics.

RichCantante

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A recent Joe Rogan interview with a researcher was pretty shocking about the effects of social media/phones on girls. Surprisingly, it reassured me somewhat, since I have boys (who are, however, addicted). The guy was saying that boys are much less mentally affected than girls, because girls play head games while boys are more physically aggressive. He claimed the suicide rate for girls was skyrocketing. And with each passing year the kids are getting the phones younger.

Of course those are blanket statements, but it jibes with what my boys tell me. Neither is addicted to social media per se, so that is good. Both are totally addicted to YouTube videos. They are good at being outside but my older son (now a young adult) was a reader up until phones became commonplace and now he has no attention span.

Personally I am not addicted to my phone or to social media on my phone. I do use it constantly, however. I am addicted to screen time and to Twitter on my laptop. I set up Rescue Time and try to keep Twitter to 1 hour or less per day. Periodically I detox.

We've tried everything. Periodically we do take them away. When they were younger we'd take away phones permanently and they would get new phones from friends who have 2-3 old ones each. For 6th grade graduation, kids were getting Apple Watches and iPhone X from their parents.

I'm very concerned about this. I do think these are the new cigarettes (although watch out, there are also new cigarettes and kids are getting addicted to vaping -- thankfully not mine, yet). As such, phones and social media should be regulated. For instance, there should be a usage maximum per IP address per day on any website that uses a casino refresh style for infinite scrolling content (variable intermittent reward).

Sol's examples were cautionary, but in our case with 2 teens these scenarios have not come to pass. The primary danger, IMHO, for well socialized or mentally healthy kids anyway, is addiction, loss of attention span, possible eye and brain effects. EMF radiation??? Also, drug purchasing happens via text. Basically anything criminal, kids are young & dumb & they will ask about it online. Having said "mentally healthy" kids face these dangers, IMHO that means that kids who have specific mental issues are even more vulnerable. Though, I could see a contrary view where the phones/internet are a window out of difficult mental circumstances.

Question: My boys have cheap Metro PCS plans that their dad insists on paying for. Is there any parental or content blocking or data limiting possible on these? I do like the idea of reducing data limits overall. Oh how sweet that would be!!!!

Nick_Miller

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RichCantante, sorry I can't answer your question about the PCS plans but maybe someone else can or will chime in!?

Our family update: Our girls are going to summer camp and that means no.phones.allowed.all.day.long.

I think it is very healthy for them. They are running around and playing sports and games most of the day, and chatting (as girls tend to do). Especially for my older one, I think this "detox" is very healthy for her. Middle school drama is horrible.

When they get home they are allowed limited access. They can use them, text friends, etc, but the phones "stay" in the kitchen still. There's where our huge family charging station is. I think I am a pretty good dad but I tell you, my idea this spring to have all portable electronics docked in a central spot was definitely one of my better decisions. It's been a significant help!

jeninco

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RichCantante, sorry I can't answer your question about the PCS plans but maybe someone else can or will chime in!?

Our family update: Our girls are going to summer camp and that means no.phones.allowed.all.day.long.

I think it is very healthy for them. They are running around and playing sports and games most of the day, and chatting (as girls tend to do). Especially for my older one, I think this "detox" is very healthy for her. Middle school drama is horrible.

When they get home they are allowed limited access. They can use them, text friends, etc, but the phones "stay" in the kitchen still. There's where our huge family charging station is. I think I am a pretty good dad but I tell you, my idea this spring to have all portable electronics docked in a central spot was definitely one of my better decisions. It's been a significant help!

I agree -- setting the expectation that the electronics would live in a central (somewhat supervised) location is brilliant. By the time we thought of it, that ship had pretty much sailed... (Our kids are HS-aged.)

And camp (or backpacking/visiting relatives without WiFi/boating/exploring off the grid/camping) is a fantastic thing to do a few times/year!

Poundwise

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@jeninco I wish we lived in a community like yours! We held the line for so many years... no phone until middle school, and then it was a flip phone... no smartphone until the summer before high school.  It turned out that my son resented this incredibly and (in typical teenage fashion) insisted that we ruined his life by denying him this means of social communication.

In our rich suburban community I have heard rumors... in seventh grade, a boy was caught taking upskirts at a bat mitzvah. In eighth grade, an older girl sent nude photos of herself to a 13 year old and they got passed around.  Mom of a new boy said that when he invited "friends" over they took photos of things in their house that they thought were funny or weird and posted them on the internet for mockery.  Which is why my son doesn't invite people over to our little Mustachian home... he doesn't trust anyone.

Ugh.


jeninco

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@jeninco I wish we lived in a community like yours! We held the line for so many years... no phone until middle school, and then it was a flip phone... no smartphone until the summer before high school.  It turned out that my son resented this incredibly and (in typical teenage fashion) insisted that we ruined his life by denying him this means of social communication.

In our rich suburban community I have heard rumors... in seventh grade, a boy was caught taking upskirts at a bat mitzvah. In eighth grade, an older girl sent nude photos of herself to a 13 year old and they got passed around.  Mom of a new boy said that when he invited "friends" over they took photos of things in their house that they thought were funny or weird and posted them on the internet for mockery.  Which is why my son doesn't invite people over to our little Mustachian home... he doesn't trust anyone.

Ugh.

Wow. That's ... just ... wow.

We actually live in a little uber-priviledged bubble community, but there are enough actual and retro-hippies around here that there's a little bit of pushback to the "consumerism is everything" mentality. And I guess there's enough adult supervision to somewhat counteract the "kids are assholes" thing that can start happening, at least in the groups we run with.

Also, we've (sometimes) gotten traction by getting together with a group of parents and hammering out at least some understanding of what everyone thinks is important.   I did this when our older kid was in 8th grade, with 8 or 10 moms of kids who were starting to "date": there was wine and cheese involved, and we all talked about our kids and teenagers having sex. Obviously, not everyone agreed on when was an OK time, but we basically went around and talked some things through. I found it helpful, even though the group ranged from Catholic (i.e., "NO SEX") to people who had had sex in high school and had opinions about what was good/not so good in their experiences.  Obviously, this is a near-nightmare scenario for the kids involved, at least as far as they'd ever admit.  That was also funny.

Anyhow, I could imagine having a similar conversation around phones, if it came to that. (I think we had 1-on-1 conversations with a bunch of different parents, instead.)  I think our high school also hosted some meetings with counselors and school resource officers around phone-related issues, too?

I know this ship has sailed for @Poundwise, but we also found this:https://www.huffpost.com/entry/iphone-contract-from-your-mom_b_2372493 and modified it somewhat.  It's a good exercise, to think about what you're worried about, and what you care about. It's a good starting point for conversations, after you've modified it to your tastes.

We also make our kids pay for their usage: they're on my Ting account, so as soon as they push me into the next bucket (so over 100 minutes/100 messages/100 MB) they're responsible for paying the difference.

A Fella from Stella

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To quote Joe Rogan: "You just gave your kid all the porn in the world."

I'm personally more concerned with the radiation.