Fiesta Fridays: TGIF…CUL8R: Cell Phones and Kids

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By Leslie Lindsay

You’re not the only one who is chanting, “T.G.I.F,” your child may be, too.  In fact, they may be doing it in a different way than you–on their cell phone.  Ugh–gasp–eye-roll.  Or, it may be that this is typical for your child, depending on their age.

I wasn’t prepared when my then 5-year old announced that she “needed” to have a cell phone like all of her other friends.  “What friends?!”  I asked.  Not that I was questioning whether she had friends, but more specifically, what 5-year old friends actually had cell phones.  Well, you may be surprised.  Seems kids are toting cell phones younger than you would expect.  But that doesn’t mean it’s the “right” thing to do.

Just yesterday, as I was dropping my precocious 4-year old off at prescchool, her friend Hadley announced that she wanted her mom’s cell phone, “Hey, mom.  I want to play ‘Angry Birds’ while we wait for the teacher to open the door.”  Wow.  And I thought it was my kid who was precocious.

The mother nodded and smiled and looked at me, almost apolgetically, “We got into this bad habit of letting her play ‘Angry Birds’ when we are waiting for something…like while waiting at a restaurant.  It keeps her busy.”

Sure.  I get it. I know I am a bit addicted to my own phone, as well.  I don’t text, but I do email all the time.  I check the weather, Facebook, make calls.  It has sort of become an addiction just because it’s there.  But my kids…well, we haven’t even loaded free apps on my Smart Phone (yet).  Occasionally, I will let them type in the body of an email, addressed to no one, but that’s about it.  I figure there’s no harm in that–they are playing with words and letters, and that’s sort of educational.

But some kids are just downright annoying when it comes to their phones, or their parent’s phones.  For example, in an article on Phone-TV-Internet.com, “Ten Ways Kids Use Cell Phones to Badger Their Parents,”  http://www.phonetvinternet.com/insider/10-ways-kids-use-cell-phones-to-badger-their-parents/  You will find several ways (well, 10 actually) in which kids can be downright annoying with cell phones.  Here they are:

10 Ways Kids Use Cell Phones to Badger Their Parents

Cell phones are now the number one form of communication for teenagers. In 2010 at least 85% of 15 to 18 year olds had cell phones, nearly 70% of 11 to 14 year olds and a third of 8 to 10 year olds. With this powerful new technology in their conniving little hands, kids are learning how to use it to take advantage of their parents. Some kids don’t know how to take “no” for an answer and are finding new ways to get what they want. Here are 10 ways kids use cell phones to badger their parents.

  1. Calling – The first technique used to badger their parents is constant calling. This can be very annoying, especially during work. Parents don’t want to be accused of not taking calls from their own children, so this can really get out of hand in a hurry.
  2. Texting – If a parent stops taking their calls, the next avenue the kids will take to badger them is texting. Since they already text 15 times more than making calls, this comes naturally to kids. They can take badgering to new heights by sending one word messages like; Please…please….can…I….GO!!!!…Please….please….please!!!!
  3. Voicemails – Once parents learn to ignore the text badgering, the next step is unlimited voicemail messages. Imagine checking your voicemail and finding out you have 75 new voice mail messages. You have to go through them all to sort out any important ones while listening to all the ones with your kid whining.
  4. Emails – By this time you’ve shut off your cell phone and are trying to get some work done on the computer. Kids with email capabilities on their cell phones won’t hesitate to use them to get their parents attention. Soon your inbox is flooded with messages from your kids bugging you about their latest issue.
  5. Tweeting – If you allow your child to have a twitter access on their phone, this is another way they can badger you. You have to follow their tweets to monitor what they’re up to and can get pummeled with constant tweets about how you’re the worst parent ever for not letting them do what they want.
  6. Sending pictures – Next thing you know, your kids are bombarding you with pictures of all their friends that are going to the latest concert. After that comes a variety of pictures with your child making sad faces. The situation has elevated into a whole new level of harassment with the help of a camera phone.
  7. Annoying ring tones – If all other efforts have failed, and you have a particularly inventive child, they can change the ring tone of their phone to attack you. Every time someone calls your kid the phone now says, “My mommy is mean”. This takes badgering to an all time low.
  8. Playing games – Another tactic your child may try is to annoy the heck out of you by constantly playing games on their cell phone whenever you approach. This is a form of reverse-badgering that is known to work in some extreme cases.
  9. Enlist friends – Kids never hesitate to enlist the help of friends to manipulate their parents. They can give out your cell phone number to all their buddies and have them bombard you with all the badgering tactics already mentioned.
  10. Hang up – If your children want to be particularly annoying they can keep calling your cell phone and hang up when you answer. Of course this is typical childish behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated (but they are kids after all…).

Using cell phones to badger them isn’t something most parents think of when they get the phones for their kids. They want their children to be able to contact them in an emergency and be able to let them know if there’s a change of plans or if their running late. The most important thing to remember when getting cell phones for your kids is to establish firm ground rules to begin with and make sure they’re enforced. Don’t give them a new tool they can use to manipulate you. Kids will use badgering to get their way, especially if they find out it works. Stay strong and never let them find a week spot or you’re doomed.”

As for us, well….we are going to hold off on offering our kiddo a cell phone, for fear her momma will become an “Angry Bird.” 

Best Wishes to Coleen Torres for introducing me to this site and this article.

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