Tag Archives: teenagers

10 times you can rip that phone from your kid’s hand

27 Aug

(Something I wrote a while back, while thinking about a story for a parenting site.)

Bothered by the sight of your teen’s cell phone practically hot-glued to his or her hand? Do her eyes rarely meet yours because she is waiting for a text message? Does he always have his hand in the cell phone pocket of his jeans? Do your kids contend they’re listening to you even while their thumbs are bouncing on the keypad at a furious pace?

C’mon, cast aside your sweet memories of how the whining ceased when you bought them that expensive thing. Sure, it’s a relief to know they have it in case of emergency. But we know you’re sick of how they love their phone more than they love you. So, courage, fellow parents. Here are:

10 Times You Can Put Your Foot Down and Tell Them to Put the Phone Down

1. When you are at a sit-down family dinner in a restaurant.
2. When you are discussing their grades with them.
3. When you are visibly distraught over something and need to talk to them, whether the issue directly concerns them or not.
4. When you are upset that they have exceeded their phone minutes.
5. When you are explaining why they are grounded.
6. When they are meeting someone for the first time.
7. When they are driving … yikes! Seriously, put your foot down.
8. When your family is at a funeral.
9. When they are holding something fragile … like a newborn (I really saw this once).
10. When you just can’t stand it anymore. Be the adult — take charge.

(Brought to you by Parents Against Cell Phone Addiction)

Hey, parents!

12 Aug

No one solicited this advice from me, but I’m going to give it anyway. I spent enough years as a high school teacher to know that many teenagers are scooted (or shoved?) out the door on the first day back to school without their parents having set a few ground rules for school life.
So, for any parents of teenagers reading this, here are a few things that teachers wish you would discuss with your student:
Should your student take an iPod or other mp3 device to school, and if so, what are the rules for when to take it out of the backpack?
Parents, realize that even though iPods soothe the savage beast and are silent playthings, they can still cause a distraction in the classroom. At the start of every school year, teachers have to decide what their iPod rules will be. Should an English teacher allow iPods during silent reading, a math teacher during deskwork, an art teacher during free painting and drawing? Certainly, no iPods during lectures and tests is a reasonable rule, but if teachers loosen that rule at other times, do they set themselves up for iPod-addicted students who whine, “We should be able to listen to our music all the time.”
Sure, teachers realize how teens love their music, but teachers don’t love how kids share an earbud with a neighbor so that they can both rock out. Teachers don’t love how kids mouth the words of a song, sway back and forth, turn the volume up too high and otherwise cause distractions during class time. It’s no wonder many teachers ban iPods entirely. Can your student handle an iPod during learning time? Talk to him about it.
And I haven’t each touched on the prevalence of iPod thefts at high schools. Not too long ago my English class came to a standstill when a junior stood up, furiously accused another student of stealing his iPod and wouldn’t sit down until he got it back. Our reading of The Crucible could wait, and I was highly resentful of the interruption. Ask your son or daughter, how would you feel if your iPod disappeared while you were at school? The administration can take a report on the theft, but is not obligated to help find the device. I’ve seen tears shed over lost or stolen iPods.
Speaking of technology, please establish rules with your student about cellphones. Most teachers would like to toss them into a big bonfire; I’ve heard of schools that won’t let students walk through the door with a cellphone. OK, so it’s not like students are chatting on them during class time — it’s the text messaging that’s the distraction. Kids have devised a hundred different wily ways to text without the teacher noticing. I especially liked the hand-and-phone-in-the-front-pocket-of-a-hoodie trick. There’s also the big-purse-on-desk trick to serve as cover; guys prop up big textbooks for the same purpose. Can your student manage to keep the cellphone in a backpack all during class period? Furthermore, can he or she turn it off? Too many times I’ve seen well-behaved and not so well-behaved students give in to the temptation to see why their phone vibrated or lit up. And what will the consequences be at home if a teacher has to call about cellphone abuse?
I’ve saved the big kahuna for last: grades. Let me be blunt: If you think it’s OK for your student to come home with a D in a class and for all of you to breathe a sigh of relief that he or she didn’t fail, think again. American education is in no shape to settle for D’s, much less C’s. Too many teachers are lowering the bar, and still, kids can’t manage B’s and A’s. Keep track of your children’s grades through the swell new ways that teachers post grades online; set up a conference with teachers; make a phone call; ask your student why he or she is not doing well in a class. Do something! Get involved! Don’t settle for “it’s the teacher’s fault” or “she’s a crappy teacher.” There has to be more to it than that. And don’t wait until the last minute to resolve a problem. Teachers get bombarded with requests for makeup work and extra credit at the end of a grading period; often it’s too late to raise a grade significantly by the end of a grading term.
By railing about these three areas — iPods, phones and grades — I’m really just expressing a general frustration that most teachers share about lack of parental involvement once kids hit high school. My feeling is that maybe you can relax and not harp on rules for school behavior once kids hit 16, but please, please talk about your classroom behavior and grade expectations with your freshmen and sophomores. And don’t be afraid to call a teacher just to get a general read on how your son or daughter is doing. Even at the high school level, teachers want to be your partners in education.
{Extracted today: 860 words}

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