Everyone tells you what you’re supposed to do when you buy your child a smartphone. Here’s what you shouldn’t do — unless you want your experience of being a parent to be truly unforgettable, and not in a good way.
1. Let him wing it. You’ve just given your proto-teen a computer that’s more powerful than the ones NASA used to get to the moon. So the last thing you want to do is talk to him about how to use it responsibly. Let him just wing it. What could possibly go wrong?
2. Trust his memory. Let’s say you decide to break Rule #1 and actually have a conversation about what he is and isn’t allowed to do with his phone, and what happens if he breaks the rules. Do not write that down. That way, he can pretend you never said any of it, and you can change the rules whenever you feel like it. Think of all the lively fights you’ll have.
3. Go NSA on him. There are apps you can install on your kid’s phone that secretly capture everything he does without telling him. There’s no better way to capture your teen doing what you told him not to do (or didn’t tell him, in case you followed Rule #1). Why prevent bad behavior by warning him ahead of time when you can catch him red-handed?
4. Read all his texts. Instead of scanning your child’s text messages for telltale signs of trouble, just read them all. There’s nothing more fascinating than two teens exchanging hundreds of messages composed entirely of arcane acronyms — OMG SRSLY. Be sure to post the really juicy exchanges on Facebook so everyone can share in the fun.
5. Send him out unprotected. Sure, smartphones are wildly expensive to repair and replace, but you have nothing to worry about. Your teenager is ultra-responsible and never breaks anything. Right? Don’t bother with a protective waterproof case or insurance; you’ll do just fine.
(Ralph von der Heyden/Flickr)
6. Pay for everything. If he does break his phone, you’ll want to replace it immediately — at no cost to him, since having a smartphone is so important. Also be sure to avoid putting limits on the amount of wireless data he consumes. How many gigabytes can a video-crazed teenager suck down in a month? Don’t you want to find out?
7. Set a horrible example. Worried your child is spending all his waking hours with his face magnetically attached to his phone? Be sure and set an example by doing the same thing yourself. Even better: Take a selfie as you’re lecturing him about how he needs to limit his screen time and then post it to Instagram.
Questions, complaints, kudos? Email Dan Tynan at ModFamily1@yahoo.com.