"MomTalk/TeenTalk" is a column that highlights, with lots of humor and love, the differences and similarities between today's moms and their teens. In a "point - counterpoint" manner, a mom and her teen will each give their ideas and opinions on a topic of concern to both teens and parents. Weigh in on the Clinton Patch with your thoughts and ideas.
FIRST TOPIC: How much technology is too much technology?
What do you think is the proper age for a child or teen to have their own cell phone and is texting allowed?
Mom: I believe the proper age for a child to get a cell phone is when they are attending middle school/high school, so as early as 12 years old and older. Our primary reasons for purchasing a cell phone for our daughter was when she took a trip to New York City with a friend. I felt it was important for her to have her own phone with emergency numbers in case she got lost. Her cell phone has also come in handy for me when she is away during sports games and any time she is not at home (movies, babysitting, friend’s house, etc.). In all honesty, the phone is not an issue, rarely are calls made (which I would actually prefer person to person) and our daughter does minimal texting.
Teen (Sarah, 13 years old): I believe that the proper age for a kid/teen to have a cell phone is age 11 or 12. I think that around sixth grade, most kids are in athletic school teams and clubs outside of school and you are away from your parents. I think it is necessary for them to have one just in case of an emergency. Phones are not allowed at my school. I believe that when you first get the phone, there should be some texting but not very much.
When are your children allowed to use the computer? And how much is too much computer time?
Mom: On the one side, most of my daughter's school work is done on her computer, a Mac. All her assignments are listed on a website through school called First Class and they have their own email account through First Class to touch base with students and teachers. This is all fine, it’s the Mac in particular, which has ichat, and she also has an skype and a Gmail account for friends that use these applications. Often, our daughter is doing an assignment and then there will be a IM or gmail message that pops up. This is what causes distractions and delays in getting homework completed in a timely manner. Our rule in this house is that all homework must be completed before any “social communicating” can occur. This has not been foolproof. We stress that attention to detail and their best efforts towards quality work is what is important and that not just speeding through assignments so they can move on and communicate with their friends. Sarah generally spends about two hours a night on homework, additional computer time communicating with friends should be less than a half-hour or 20 minutes in my opinion.
Teen: I have my own computer and do most of my homework on it. I have a school email, First Class, that I use to send my homework to my teachers - this is a requirement. At school during study hall, if I am working on Word and I need to go, then I can send myself the document via email and work on it at home. I have a gmail and i-chat account that I usually go on after all my homework is done. I like having these applications because I can talk to my friends. I’m also able to ask my friends about homework issues.
How do you feel about all the technology our kids are exposed to?
Mom: I feel like it is really hurting our children in the long run. The kids have so much access to technology and social networking applications. I truly appreciate that relationships and our children's friends are one of the most important aspects of a child’s life besides their family, home and school. I would like to see more conversations face-to-face or at least over the phone. In addition, children don’t write as many letters or well-written emails - instead they text or are too quick to send a response, thus that is where so many misinterpretations have occurred. I also believe that if children are constantly texting, their writing skills and vocabulary base could really suffer. The most important things that parents can do to help their kids is to create limits. We need to remember that we are paying for their cell phone plans, and if there are adverse results such as behavior issues or a decline in grades, we have every right to take those privileges away. In addition, always have your child’s computer placed in a common area in the house and never in their bedrooms, allowing for constant parental observation.
Teen: I believe that technology is hurting younger kids more than teens. I think this is because they are exposed to it when they are younger and use it more than they probably should. I do really try to finish my homework before communicating with my friends, but at times it is hard, especially when you are bored. Most teens use acronyms when they text and I think that this affects their writing skills. I also believe that kids watch a lot more television than they should in addition to computer time. I have noticed that kids I babysit for watch TV more than I ever do. I think it is a good rule to have no TV during the week. I usually try to record my favorite shows to watch over the weekend. I usually don’t even have time to watch because of how much homework and extra-curricular activities that I have.
Next week's topic: Allowances. Should kids receive an allowance for doing regular household chores or only for extra work? Or are allowances a thing of the past? How much is the right amount for their age? Should the spending of allowance money be monitored?
Weigh in on this subject before the next column and we will post your thoughts!