I've heard some stories recently about tweens and teens using their mobile phones to participate in some unsavory activities.
This is old news (discussed here way back in June: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24993253/), so you're probably already aware of what I'm talking about: "sexting"--nude pictures and messages shared via cell phones. Apparently this is a growing trend, becoming more and more commonplace and occurring with an increasingly younger set.
Well, in the above-linked column, Helen Popkin writes:
"...rather than ripping the cell phones from the greasy paws of the young and innocent and declaring Internet Prohibition (yeah, that’d work), probably us grown-ups should try and wrap our heads around an age-old fact that was true when our parents were stupid brats, not to mention us....Once the hormones kick in, kids are going to do stuff we’d rather not think about...
The best we can do is teach every sprog circling adolescence how to use both their cell phones and their bodies responsibly as you would with any other tool, such as a car or a chainsaw. And don’t freak out too much."
So, the solution, she suggests, is in the hands of the parents. I couldn't agree more. That's why this parent, if ever faced with the reality of his son using his cell phone to "sext," will use his hands to, oh, I don't know, maybe rip the cell phone from his greasy paws?
Now, I'm not dumb enough to think that this will suppress his raging hormones for even a moment. As Popkin rightly suggests, he'll find other ways to make a complete ass of himself. And if he's anything like his Dad, he'll do it often. And publicly.
But here's the thing: it's my cell phone. It's not his cell phone. I'm paying for it, so I get to make the rules about its use. Break the rules, lose the privilege. Rule number 1: No T&A. Or D&A. Whatever. It comes equipped with zero genitalia-minutes. Rule number 2: It's a phone, a tool, not a toy. Something I put in your pocket so you can call me if a deranged psycho is trying to harm you or offer you a variable rate mortgage.
Call me naive. I probably am. But my childhood experience taught me that setting and enforcing "for-your-own-good" rules was one of the primary duties of parenting. That, and listening to Barry Manilow. And much to my son's future chagrin...I'm fully prepared to do both.
Oh, BTW--cell phone rule number 3: Use this to cheat in school and it's your ass. Tell me--do parents even consider cheating "cheating" anymore, or is it now seen as some sort of Darwinian imperative? A post for another time...