By now, some of you parents might be wondering why you let your children have cellphones for Christmas, especially after the government is trying to crack down on distracted driving.
Maybe it’s not too late to get your kids to handle phones responsibly, however. I was meeting with a lawyer in his Evans office recently, and when the topic turned to children and cellphones. Charles T. Huggins Jr. pulled a three-page document from his files – “Cell Phone Agreement.”
He said he had asked his daughters, Catherine and Callie, both now teenagers, to read, initial and sign its 10 rules before accepting their phones – or pay for the devices themselves. Young people feel they simply must have phones, he said, so, “All I can do to try to fight back for decency.”
His rules help guard children and parents alike, all the while keeping a friendly tone. They begin:
“I (the child’s name), in recognition of the following: first, modern technology allows me to electronically communicate with others; second, electronic communications can be monitored and recorded by anyone at any time; third, my parents are doing their best to raise me in accordance with their understanding of God’s plan for my life; and fourth, since my parents have provided me the use of a cellphone, I am responsible for using it responsibly and respectfully; I do hereby agree to the following.”
I have edited the attorney’s rules for space:
1. I understand that every text message I receive or send may be read by my parents, teachers, employers and law enforcement officers. If asked, I agree to truthfully ‘decode’ texts.
2. I will not send a text that contains profanity or sexually suggestive or explicit messages. If suggestive pictures are sent to me, I will delete them.
3. I agree that text messages received or sent by me are not my private business.
4. I will not read or send a text message during the hours I am supposed to be at school or work – this includes baby-sitting.
5. I will not read or send texts during a meal – whether I am eating alone or not.
6. I will not read or send a text in the presence of a person over the age of twenty-one (21) years. I will turn my cellphone off and conceal it in their presence.
7. I will not read or send a text after 9 p.m. on weeknights. On weekends, holidays and summer breaks, I will not read or send a text after an agreed-on time.
8. I will not read or send a text message while I am walking, running, riding a bicycle or driving any vehicle. I will not place or answer a cellphone call while I am driving any vehicle.
9. I will not use my phone to gossip, spread rumors, flirt with another person’s boyfriend, or defame or tear down another person.
10. I will pay for a new phone with my own money if my phone is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed.
Both girls read, initialed and signed, so consider it.