iParenting in the iPhone Age

"I will always know the password," one mother wrote in a contract that she gave to her son.

Janelle Hoffman, a Cape Cod, Mass., mother of five, presented her 13-year-old son with an iPhone for Christmas, along with a list of rules and regulations for its use. Not the Apple list; the mom's list.

Rule No. 1 is, "It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?" And No. 2 is, "I will always know the password."

The contract has 18 points of requirements for usage that range from proper phone etiquette to sage advice for the future, such as No. 12: "Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else's private parts. Don't laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea."

KidsAndMedia.org suggests responsible parents be vigilant with their teens, but monitoring may be a bit overkill. "As parents, we are responsible for our children, and, thus, we have a right as well as a duty to guide them in the digital world. At the same time, children have a right to use digital media, and they have a need to learn about safe and responsible use thereof." They suggest a balance be found, and sometimes that just depends on the child and the age of the child.  

Common sense parenting seems more reasonable than installing the monitoring software and while Hoffman's set of rules seems reasonable to many adults, teens, no doubt, see this as a gross intrusion of their privacy and a lack of trust that, many times, just isn't merited. 

Do you have rules for cell phone use at your house? How closely do you monitor your teen's usage? Do you think Ms. Hoffman's rules are reasonable? At what point should teens be allowed the rights of privacy afforded by a cell phone?


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