A few months ago I read in a Swedish newspaper about parents who found it completely acceptable to track their kids via their mobile phones. Being able to track them where ever they go – 24/7. Which not just diminish the sense of privacy, but also shows a lack of trust in their kids.
The parents might sleep better at night, knowing where their kids are at all times, but that also affects the watched – their kids. In a way, teaching them that being watched 24/7 is fine and privacy is not something they should expect. As in, that if someone wants to keep an eye on you, you should just accept it and tolerate it.
Is that really what we want to teach our kids?
A more recent article that freaked me out a bit is about the mum whom gave her 13-year-old kid an iPhone as a gift for Xmas, which included a contract from her.
The clauses in the contract shows a lack of understanding how technology works, how a young mind develops and a shocking lack of respect when it comes to privacy of an individual.
I have decided to pick each clause apart, to point out how ridiculous it is. Not because I am bored, but because I am sick of this kind of totalitarian behaviour. Not to mention, the idea that surveilance is the only solution.
1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
I don’t care how old the person receiving a gift is, but that someone feel they need to add that they bought the gift, therefore it is technically their item is a bit creepy. A gift is a gift, something that change ownership when exchanging hands.
Also telling someone that you are the greatest is kind of weird.
2. I will always know the password.
Would you want to have access to your child’s diary too? Even an old fashioned on, written in a book with a pen? I wouldn’t. It shows a complete distrust in your child.
Of course, know the password to the Apple account, but not the phone. By letting someone experiencing the privilege of privacy, they will also understand and hopefully respect privacy of others.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
If you need to put that in writing to a 13-year-old, you might have to consider your skills as a parent.
Again, privacy has also a bit to do with this.
No, you’re not obligated to answer every time someone calls. Because what someone is doing while the phone calls might actually be far more important than the call itself.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
I can think of many dead and living leaders of different countries that would love to exercise this type of power on children and their citizens. What as a bit scary is that some actually still do and to far greater extent than this.
This do not foster independence, but totalitarian obedience.
How you raise your child will teach them how to act in society. Are these the type of values you want your child to bring into the world?
5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
Why even bother giving someone a phone if they can barely have any time to use it?
6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
And for most people that is common sense and taught to kids way before they are 13.
7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
It’s not an excuse to do this, but kids will be kids and will use technology to be devious if they are able make themselves believe it’s ok. It’s even more tempting to do it when told not to.
All you can do as a parent is to be good person and hope they mimic that.
8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
This just makes you sound like you were born 200 years ago. Seriously, text and email is becoming more and more popular to communicate with, even when doing business.
Again, be a good person and hope your child parrots you. If not, well, be a better parent.
10. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.
Good luck with that…
And as a parent you should also understand that your child should also feel comfortable keeping things from you.
Have you told your child everything you have done and do? And I mean everything to the very minute detail.
11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
This should also be common sense…
And contradicts clause 3. Congratulations for creating a huge loophole in your contract.
12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.
Great advice! Probably the only one I can actually condone.
Still, it shouldn’t have to be in writing.
13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
Will it also be stored in your brain even if you develop Alzheimer?
Also, have you ever heard about Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, etc? It’s part of our culture to share. And even before computers, people had something weird called albums which they stored photos in.
Since the creation of the camera we humans have loved to document what we experience and see.
14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.
What happens if you try to call your kid, but he left the phone at home, because of ignoring FOMO? Yet another loophole regarding clause 3.
15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
Download it how? By buying or pirating? I hope buying…
Of course, this is also a good clause, it is important to expand your mind, but it’s not up to you as a parent to tell a child what to do, behave and think.
Give your kid advice, but let them also think for themselves.
16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
You are aware a 10-year study shows that shooting games also positively stimulate the brain?
17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
This clause is just weird…
18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.
Is this your kid or a friend that has recently become a business partner with? It also contradicts clause 6.
The contract itself is poorly written. It has no consistency, with a lot of loopholes. It shows no respect for privacy and not allowing a teenager to be a teenager. It also shows a parent that is being overbearing and trying to teach their kid things he probably should’ve known a few years ago.
However, I do enjoy reading stuff like this, because it teaches me, if I ever become a parent, not what to do as a parent. It also reminds me that I grew up with strict rules, but also a lot of freedom because of trust.
It’s very simple, just look at any society where citizens have no freedom and are very limited in what they are allowed to do. Then see how that affects these citizens, then apply that to a child, a developing mind being under such control from a parent.
You might mould the perfect, obedient citizen, but you might also create a monster which will eventually revolt or develop some really weird behaviour traits.
It’s not easy to raise a child, I understand that, but I also understand it is a lot easier to ruin a child due to bad parenting.