This is a guest blog feature by my niece, Katie. She is in the sixth grade and I asked her to share her insights about how she is going to use the smartphone for good when her parents do allow her to receive one of her own. I offer her thoughts to help illustrate what a “Junior Explorer” (ages 11-15) in the Cyber Rites of Passage looks like. In her essay, she shares what her parents taught her about cyber safety concerns and most importantly, she acknowledges that their concerns are for her safety – not to hold her back, but to help her learn how to be secure in her online world. (Access the Cyber Rites of Passage Matrix, and to learn more about creating a family culture of transparency and trust to regulate the use of technology, go to Fresh Start or contact Joanna).
Smartphones are really cool. I am an eleven-year-old who is looking forward to getting my own smartphone; however, my parents have many concerns and we have talked about what they are afraid of and what I can do to help protect me and reduce their fears.
Some of the basic safety concerns with phones are that kids can get bullied and that kids may be exposed to the world of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Some other concerns are that kids may communicate less in person and that the amount of time kids spend their phone can be distracting from other important things.
There are limits with my iPad that I have now and when I get a smartphone we will have more rules. Some of my rules include no devices after bedtime, my parents having access to all my to passwords, and approving all of the apps I want to download. I have a limit on how much time I spend on my iPad that gets longer as I get older. I will not use the phone at school or provide anyone I don’t know with personal information. Anything that I will post on social media or text, I believe my parents will be ok with. I will not use my phone at the dinner table unless I have an O.K. from the adult in charge or my parents.
Some of the benefits I would get from having a phone are entertainment, music, more widespread communication with friends, games, relaxation, and more learning possibilities. It will also be good to have a phone if someone is badly injured so I can call the parent or 911, and if someone needs to call home then I can let him or her call easily.
Overall I am realizing all of the responsibilities of having a phone and why my parents are so worried for me to have a phone. I am still crossing my fingers that I will get a phone VERY soon, (we’re talking Easter people) and from what I have learned, I feel I am more aware of what I have to do when I get one.
My response to Katie’s insights:
Hi Katie! Wow! This is an excellent essay and I suspect that your parents are feeling confident of what you have learned about the responsibility of having a smartphone for personal use.
Based upon what you have shared in this essay and what your mom has told me about you being a very trustworthy person, I too am confident that you understand that your parents and the rules you guys create for smartphone usage are to work for you …so that you will be blessed with the tool.
Please keep me posted on how it goes.
Love to you my precious, magnificent niece,
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device.
Peace on earth begins with peace at home.
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Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.
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