School Cell Phone Policies
Cell Phone Use is Everywhere Among Teens and Tweens
I was walking into a department store and I saw the little girl. Barely walking, clad in a loose shirt and pants, she had a cell phone clipped to her waist, her diaper peeking out over her pants.
I looked at the mother and smiled. "She likes to hold your cell phone?" I asked, smiling. "Oh no. That's her phone. She had to have one. She'll be two in a month, but she's two going on thirty." I gasped and turned away. This child was barely able to walk well, and here she was, equipped with a cell phone. Too young? Of course.
A different day, a young teen walked through the store, speaking to the person on the other end. "Yes, Milk, Bread, Eggs, Butter, Laundry Soap." She was clearly working through a list with the person on the phone. The teen was using the phone as a tool with her family, helping out. At the same time, her parent knew where she was and what she was doing.
With families becoming more and more busy, sometimes, the easiest way to keep track of a child or children is to make sure that they are equipped with a cell phone. In the event of divorced or separated parents, a cell phone can assure that parents and other family members can maintain contact with a child.
Studies have shown that less than one fourth of teens don't have cell phones. The rest do. Of those children that do have cell phones, one fourth of those don't have smart phones. We have reached a point where more children have phones than those who do not.
Source: Pew Internet.org
Know the Rules at School for Cell Phone Use
Most schools in the United States will clearly post their rules either online, or in more rural areas, in their student handbooks, or in some cases, both places. Your job as a parent is to know the rules well. Read these rules carefully. Know them better than your child knows them. Schools have different policies. Some allow phones to be carried, so long as they are muted and not used in class, some schools allow children to keep phones in a locker, and other schools do not want cell phones on their campuses at all.
It is important to teach your child to comply with the rules. Go over the school policy with your child on phones and other electronic devices. We can all find examples of where having a cell phone could save a life, but the cell phone has a strong ability to be a distraction of a device.
In the event that phones are allowed at school, make sure that both you and your child are aware of the penalties for breaking the rules. If you also have rules for the cell phone, explain what your rules are, too. Explain what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do.
When my son was in high school, the school had a 'no phone on campus' policy. My son begged me to let him take the phone with him to school, promising me that he would only keep it in his car. I explained that the car was on school property, and that he was not allowed to have it on school property.
Every day when he left for school, the phone had to be handed over to me or left on the counter in the kitchen. When a group of kids was found to be cheating through texting, I knew that my son was not involved because he did not have his phone, I did.
If the school has policies that allow for the phone to be confiscated until the end of the school year, explain what that means to your child and their phone. Some children believe that you will go to bat for them, and that you will get their cell phone back. This is a tricky area, because if you do that, you are teaching your child that rules are meant to be broken. If your child has a legitimate need for the phone, you may have to go to bat for them, but there should be a repercussion for their action of breaking the rules.
If Cell Phones Are Allowed In School
My eldest niece went to a school where cell phone use was allowed in between classes and at lunch. The rule students had to abide by was no cell phone use in classrooms, and no cell phone use when you were in any teachers' office or the main office. Fair enough. Until a student began to take photos with their phone of students in the changing area of gym classes. My niece was one of the victims and a picture was shared online of her, wearing only a bra and panties.
Adult situations that children are ill equipped to deal with happen through cell phone and internet usage. A frank discussion of what cell phones are and are not to be used for is a good idea.
Here are some suggestions of limits to place on cell phones:
- No taking people's photos without their knowledge and permission.
- No taking embarrassing photos of anyone.
- No posting onto social media networks such as Facebook without permission.
- No texting in class.
- No cheating via the cell phone
- No looking up answers on the cell phone
- Cell phone will be set to vibrate/silent if allowed in class
- Grades must be maintained to get a cell phone and keep it
- No sexting-In certain states, this is against the law if a minor is a participant, even with another minor.
- No sexy/suggestive photos sent or received. In some states, if a child is a minor and sends or receives images, it is a crime.
- No agressive/threatening texts
- Notify parents if anyone else sends texts or sexts, threatening texts, or photos or suggests doing something that your child is uncomfortable with
- Discuss what will happen if phone breaks, gets damaged, gets lost, gets stolen, or malfunctions
- Explain costs of phone, and costs of monthly contract
- If phone is NOT unlimited, explain how much usage the phone can perform, and what will happen if those limits are exceeded
- If there are limits on who can have your child's cell phone number, let them know that there are limits, and who can and cannot have their number
Paying for Your Child's Cell Phone Plan With Performance
My son was not allowed to have his phone on months that his grades were not up to par. He was so in fear of this that he pulled his grades up to make sure that we would not take the phone from him. Although he had a part time job, we made it very clear that he was not to purchase a phone or add time to a pay as you go phone without us knowing about it. Why? Because a cell phone is not a right.
The year my son was in high school was the first year that the school he was in had a cell phone policy. I took all of the measures and precautions that I could. Some of his other friends had parents who did not see using cell phones in school as a big deal. Until their son was expelled for cheating on tests. Then they saw things in a different light. Children are pressured by peers to take the easy route, and sometimes, that route is down a dark road. By removing temptation and following the rules, you are teaching your child how to behave in society as a whole. I have a friend who works in an insurance office. They are not allowed to be on their phones at work at all, even in break rooms because of the sensitive nature of what they do. She said that the reason most new hires are let go during the first 90 days is that they are using the internet for personal surfing, or they are using their cell phone under their desk to text. Neither one is acceptable and they are released before they are even all the way out of training. Don't teach your child bad lessons about following rules.
Impending Circumstances for Cell Phone Use
A dear friend of mine had a grandfather who was ill and dying. The family was trying to book a flight as soon as possible to go to France to be with him. Knowing that they would be gone for two weeks, my friend wanted her daughter to be in school as long as possible. She contacted the school with the situation, and her daughter was allowed to carry her phone for that day only, so that she could be ready as soon as her flight was booked. It worked out fine. Most schools do realize that there are extenuating circumstances that cause a legitimate need for a child to carry a cell phone in class.
Children who happen to also be parents are often allowed to carry a phone, so that if something happens with their child, they can take care of the need if it arises. Not all schools will, though, so it may be necessary to give the number of the school and have them contact the child in these cases.
Auditing Your Child's Cell Phone
My son loved his phone so much, it was seemingly a part of him.
Occasionally, I would ask for his cell phone and look at his texts, photos and places he had been. I was not ashamed of this. As his mother, it is my job to protect them. When a young lady was sending him photos of herself in the nude, I called the other parent and there was a meeting. Peer pressure can lead all of us to do stupid things.
Some carriers will allow you to remotely view what your child is doing. Check it out and find an option that works for you.
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