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Another Voice: Tough love on smartphones will pay off for parents

By Ronna Glickman

A letter to parents: So, the holidays are over. Did your child receive the device he/she wanted – a phone? Did you give the gift because you couldn’t take hearing anymore that “everyone else has one except me?”

I want to provide words of caution so that you, the parent, remains in control.

Although it was a gift, did your child help pay for the device? It baffles me that a child walks around with a $600 (or more) phone. When I think back to all my holiday and birthday gifts as a child, and my parents were generous, the total amount didn’t add up to the cost of one phone.

Have your child help pay for the phone. Taking responsibility in that form ensures he will take better care of the phone.

Monitor the phone. Most phone subscribers have a way to keep track of texts and incoming/outgoing calls. Do not allow your child to charge the phone in her room. She will be checking her phone all night. In addition to the text alerts, phone ringing at all hours, your child will be losing sleep, which will affect her ability to function in school the next day.

Do not allow your child to sleep with their phone under the pillow. The heat will accumulate as the phone cannot “breathe,” which can cause a fire.

Cellphone radiation has been linked to cancer. Use the speaker or Bluetooth device to talk. Unfortunately for this generation, the effects of carrying around a phone may not show up years from now. “I told you so” will be too late.

Cellphone contracts are a learning tool: Your child will learn to abide by the rules of the contract or face consequences you have both determined. Like an adult who has a contract, one cannot decide if they want to pay a bill. The purpose of the contract is to establish well-explained rules such as giving the parent the password, giving the parent the phone at night, and access to conversations. Remember you are the parent and it is your job to keep your child safe.

And finally, do not give your child an Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat account until they are 13 (as the rules state). They are not emotionally ready for the ugliness that appears in words. Surveying my eighth-graders year after year, they all say they wish they would have never gotten a social media account before the age of 13 because it has ruined friendships and has emotionally scarred their lives.

Now to the parents who have not gotten their child a phone – congratulations! When your child says he is missing out, please tell him he is right. He is missing the three things kids with cellphones have: anxiety, depression and drama. And these words are not mine, they came from my students.

Ronna Glickman is a family and consumer sciences teacher for the Williamsville Central School District.

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