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What are appropriate rules for cell phone usage?

  • Consider creating "no-call" zones in certain locations, such as the car or dinner table, when no one in the family can use their cell phones.
  • Establish rules of etiquette, such as never using a cell phone within 20 feet of another person, phones should be turned off in places where they might disturb others, private conversations should not take place in public places.
  • Choose a cell phone plan with reasonable limits and negotiate a cap on your child’s minutes. Have your child contribute towards the monthly charge from his/her own earnings or allowance. Make sure your child has consequences, financial or otherwise if limits are exceeded, helping them to make choices and set structures.
  • Accessing the World Wide Web has never been easier. Kids can access their Facebook profiles, send e-mails, upload pictures to YouTube from their phone. Talk with your kids about cell phone "netiquette."
  • Although not common, teachers report a growing trend of Internet-enabled cell phones being used to cheat on tests using the internet.
  • Text messaging can be very disruptive during class. Set rules and limits about when text messaging is appropriate and inappropriate. Find out about your child’s school policy on cell phone use and support it!
  • Personal privacy is harder to find when people can snap pictures quickly and easily on their phones. Talk to your kids about appropriate and inappropriate camera use.
  • Talk to your kids about the consequences of posting incriminating or inappropriate pictures on public sites like YouTube or Facebook.
  • Issue of safety and the impact of cell phones on the developing brain is still unresolved. The FDA has taken the position that there is no evidence that cell phones cause harm. The use of headsets is recommended, however.

Source: "Teach Your Child Cell Phone Etiquette"; National Institute on Media and the Family "A MediaWise Parent Guide – Cell Phones and Your Kids"; NYU Child Study Center "Kids and Cell Phones: Staying Connected"