I have some rules around communication for my 11 year-old son. They were established when he first got his cell phone. Actually, that’s not totally true. They were established when his friends first got their cell phones. Until that point we really didn’t need any rules because he barely used the thing. It was for emergencies and, with no one to contact but me, that’s what he stuck to.
- No phones upstairs. This is to prevent bedtime texting. I know with absolute certainty that his friends sneak their phones upstairs and text at all hours. The critical thing about this is that it applies to everyone in the house. My iPhone stays downstairs too.
- Stay connected. The purpose of the phone is to inform me where he is. This was actually the whole point of the thing in the first place and as long as I am paying for it then I ask that he checks in regularly.
- I do spot checks. I will read his texts on occasion. I have, in fact, only done this a handful of times when a) I remember and b) I suspect that something is up and I am not getting the whole story.
- Respect. Don’t text something you wouldn’t say in person (this applies to facebook too). Think about your values and how something could be perceived out of context. This is VERY tough but I can already see my thoughtful guy rising above some of the petty goings on of his peers.
- Only one screen at a time. If you are watching TV put your phone and iTouch and laptop away. Focus on one thing at a time.