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May 2, 2009

A Teen’s Take on Cell Phone Checks

Image: Flickr/Shenghung Lin

Image: Flickr/Shenghung Lin

This was sent in to me by a ScreamFree certified facilitator. It is a letter written by a seventeen year old discussing the pros and cons of parents instituting cell phone checks. Here is her answer as it appears (poor grammar and all)…

If you’re going to look in my phone, you’ll find things you don’t like. period.

if you went through my cell phone right now here’s what you would find you wouldn’t like: i use profanity. alot. i’m up way past my bedtime. several innuendos with my boyfriend. i failed my chem test. my best friend was drunk last weekend. my guy friends have sex. my friend drove me home from school last weekend even though I’m not supposed to get in the car with new drivers.

there’s probably plenty of material to get me grounded in there.
but here’s the thing to think about.
a. what puts me in danger? and b. what can you actually change?

keep all this in mind. I’m an ap and honors student. I’m at the top of my class. I participate in extracurriculars. teachers love me. I have conversations instead of grunting at the dinner table (WOAH WE CAN TALK!)

So whether or not you choose to take action about these things, I caution you against taking the hardline “i’m not your friend” approach.
yes. you’re not my friend. its pretty clear. i promise. my worst enemy tells me that less.
but just because were not friends doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly.
my teacher may not be my friend but that doesn’t mean she approaches me wielding my cell phone like an ax and yelling were not friends. well, most teachers don’t. in this situation, who’s the irrational one, you or your teen?

if you decide to take issue with these things, do it by TALKING to me.
ask me why I’m up so late. ask me why I felt I needed a ride home from a friend. talk to me about why it concerns you.

in the process you might discover that I’ve been such an irrational human being lately because my boyfriend cheated on me and I don’t know how to handle it.
I might have failed the chemistry test because its HARD.
most of my behavior has an explanation.

get a good relationship with your kids. they’re people too. think of it more as mentor-mentee rather than tyrant-serf 🙂
I kindof branched off (sorry!, as a teen I reacted strongly)
but my answer to the question: (finally!)

if youre the parent whos going to demand cell checks; your teen just won’t text anything they don’t mind you reading. or they’ll delete it. they’ll also constantly complain about you to their friends and want to go to college very far away.
most teens delete their texts/passcode lock anyway. (not necessarily because were hiding something but because surprise: we think you’re as irrational as you think we are)

PICK YOUR BATTLES. focus on winning the long term not the short term fights.

Pretty fascinating stuff. I love that she uses the mentor/mentee analogy to parents and their teens. As our kids get older, our job changes from one who protects to one who prepares.

That’s the topic of the Hal Edward show tomorrow. Tune in to from 2-4 EST to hear the conversation and call in with your two cents.

I actually think she’s pretty articulate and reasonable…although if I were her parent, I’d ground her for abusing the English language.

One thought on “A Teen’s Take on Cell Phone Checks

  1. I applaud the post in general. It’s always good to hear the ‘rest of the story’ and if kids DID talk to parents in such a way that a discussion of ‘why are you up so late?’ would actually merit an answer, maybe more of that would go on.

    I have an 8 year old and the cell phone checks are limited to verification that the only incomming and outgoing calls are to people in his ‘contacts’. At his age, that’s the rule. Since I have never found a violation it doesn’t get checked very often any more. Trust is built over time, and can be broken in seconds. This is a basic truth of human relationships and doesn’t just apply to parents and children – think of your trust relationships with your friends.

    HOWEVER, my best friend has a 16 year old daughter who views her mother as a control freak and enemy. Trust me, the Mom is trying VERY HARD to do the right thing and is often concerned about what that really is. If any of those questions are asked sarcasm is the response and anything but an open conversation occur.

    The rule about riding with a new driver – statistically, that is dangerous. Period. A sign that you are loved. I agree that an exception once in awhile is probably something that should be allowed and discussed, but as a general rule it’s just to keep you safe.

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