Focus on the Family

Cell Phone Rules

Don't just "phone it in" when it comes to guiding and protecting your kids by setting limits on cell phone use.

by Vicki Courtney

Cell phones. We love them, and we hate them. They are easy to love when you find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire, or when you're trying to track down your daughter and her friend after being separated while shopping in the mall. The love fades when the teenager sitting behind you at the movies won't hang up. Or even worse, one goes off in your purse right smack in the middle of a wedding (guilty as charged)! The cell phone has replaced the home phone, and most teens couldn't recite their top three friends' home numbers if you offered them a cash prize. Their cell phones are their mobile "friend lists" that keep them in touch around the clock with their top one hundred.

Recently, while speaking at an event for Christian middle school and high school girls, I asked the students to think about what one item they each would take with them if they were going to spend time alone on a deserted island. The majority chose the cell phone. It beat out the iPod, laptop computer and, unfortunately, even the Bible.

As parents, it's important for us to understand this technology's appeal, know what it can offer as well as the possible dangers it poses and set limits to guide and protect our kids. Whether your child is begging for a cell phone or has one already, here are some things to consider:

Cell phones are already a permanent fixture in our lives. And soon, the industry standard will be cell phones that consolidate all the teen favorites into one small device. Teens will use their phones to talk, text, receive IMs being sent to their computers, access their music library, surf the Web, check their MySpace and Facebook pages and even post comments and upload pictures and video clips straight to Web sites from their phones. For portability and communicating on the run, the cell phone is the central piece of technology that connects teens to their favorite activities. Best of all, it fits in a back pocket. No wonder kids beg for one of their own.