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Thoughts on cell phones and how to keep them from taking over the school day


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My dd14 recently came back home from ps a month into the second semester of grade 9 after giving it a try for one semester (homeschooled exclusively K-8).  Although her school had a "no cell phone in use during school" policy, obviously this was not strictly adhered to (based on how often she texted me during the day).  Up until then we had had a "no cell phone until after school" rule in our homeschool, and it worked fine the year before.  However, now she's accustomed to having her cell phone more, and we're having to reestablish some boundaries.  

Confession: I tend to be heavy-handed about (and annoyed by) the ubiquitous-ness of the cell phone in our everyday lives.  I don't like it.  I'm trying to figure out if I'm being over-the-top by requiring the cell phones to remain stashed in my bedroom until after they've finished school for the day.  I also have a dd13 who will be affected by this rule.  

If your children have cell phones, how does this work in your house?

 

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We don't allow our teens to have cell phones until they are driving independently. 

No, I would not allow a 14 yr old free access to their cell phone while doing school. If they wanted to see their phone during lunch, probably, but I'd want to know who the heck is communicating with them during the day anyway bc most kids should be engaged in school work. Obviously, there could be times when kids need to communicate---play practice cancelled; can your mom give me a lift; I'm sick, so my mom won't be able to give you a ride, etc. But, those types of communications should be able to wait until lunch or after school anyway.

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My teen does have a cell phone and I allow her to use it to respond to friends.  It doesn't impact our school day too much, and it does allow her to maintain friendships, which we find challenging enough without restricting contact.  YMMV

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No screens of any form until school is over (she does have to have it with her for college classes, but it is powered off during class) unless they are explicitly being used for school.  I also have a “no phones when you have peers physically present” rule, even for teens-and having seen DD’s cheer tram, where there will be 12 of them at a table, together, ALL on their phones, I am even more hard lined about that rule. 

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25 minutes ago, perkybunch said:

My teen does have a cell phone and I allow her to use it to respond to friends.  It doesn't impact our school day too much, and it does allow her to maintain friendships, which we find challenging enough without restricting contact.  YMMV

This is sort of where I am waffling a bit.  Obviously dd DID use her cell phone while at school, and apparently (?) her homeschooled BFFs have some access during the day, judging from the group messages she gets during the school day.  They're all slightly older than her, which might be worth noting, but might not be.  It hasn't been an issue with my younger dd as she is more likely to want her phone to read a book than socialize.  I should probably poll the moms of my dd14's friends. 

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What was the school policy? Here, phones have to be powered off and in bags/lockers during clssses, but can be used at lunch, on the bus, etc. If that’s what she is used to, it seems reasonable to have the same routine at home. In our case, “no screens until after school” dates back to when the one screen of interest was showing Sesame Street, so it was easy to just continue, and modify for “yeah, I do want you to be able to call/text from campus, but don’t have it on during class time”-which mirrored the syllabus line anyway, which pretty much says that if you aren’t a doctor on call to come transplant a vital organ, have your phone off :). 

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We do have phones, but they are in their bedrooms during school. They drift off into their rooms to get books or socks or whatever and will check when in there. That is enough to see if someone has messaged an announcement about something. I don't allow them to have them openly at the table. And as far as I know they don't chat with friends during the day as their friends are doing school too. I might say, text M>>> and see if her mom knows about the field trip tomorrow or something. So they talk like that.

Screens do get used to look things up during the day or to listen to classical music as well. So we are not anti technology at all. But I can see them during that. I require listening to classical music during art practice once a day. But their hands are full, so they aren't texting, just listening. 

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I don't take them away most days. I also find that maintaining friendships has a value and they're not usually that intrusive. However, I haven't hesitated to take them away whenever I see them becoming a distraction. So, around here, I'd say... maybe once a month? Kid is checking cell phone when they should be working. I remind. He gives an excuse (usually, I was waiting for you to come help me with such and such). I tell him doesn't matter. Usually that's the end of it, but every once in awhile, it's back out with another excuse. So I just take it and stick it in another room. They can take it back at lunch during our break or when school is done. That's nearly always enough to do it for awhile.

Of course, I recognize that my kids are pretty good. They don't have a serious problem with it and if they did, I'd need a different approach. Whatever you establish, I think if your goal is to loosen up a bit, letting her have it during whatever break time you have during the day seems like a good in between measure, but even that depends on your school day. My kids are slow workers - school doesn't take three hours. It takes six. We take breaks. If school is over fast in your house, maybe no phone until it's done is totally fair.

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Thanks for all the input.   Keep it coming!  I'm about to power my own screen down so I can actually oversee school for the day (ha!), but I'll come back tonight and respond.  You all have given me much food for thought. 

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I found with my own kids that when any kind of screen use got out of hand, we needed a sabbatical from screens. Screen use during school, like the others said, was only for school related use and even then, during a sabbatical, we wouldn't use screens. If phones are interfering with their lessons, I would take the phones away during school time at the very least, more likely I would take it away completely until they proved to me that they do remember how to function and entertain themselves without one.  During school though, I cannot think of a single thing important enough for them to have free access to their phone. They can check it during breaks and  after school. The only way I would allow free access is if they proved to me that they had enough self control to be able to do their work in an efficient manner while still having access. If they can't do that, they can't have free access and I don't feel even a ounce of guilt about that rule. Even their future employers will likely have a similar rule.

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And I am no example, lol. I have my screen open all day. I spend time jumping from here to chat to doing the checkbook to reading a book to looking at online curriculum all day long. But I consider most of it my working. I can see when is the ACT sign up and put that on my calendar, look at the checklist for the consignment sale I am doing next month, read about a new curriculum, look at Amazon to see if the book I wanted is on sale today, etc. etc. during the day. I do this stuff during their quiet times. I have never, even in high school now, been able to truly walk away during school. I need to be right there. If I get distracted doing dishes or sorting socks, I lose them. Tasks that should take them 20 minutes turn into tasks that are taking an hour or more if I am not present. But I know the same is true in any high school. Teachers don't give an assignment and walk away. They sit quietly in the room, so I don't think it is out of the normal. But I need my screen to get through the day. 

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In general, using a phone as a "phone" for brief communication and coordination of activities is fine. There are a few days a week where we don't use electronics (for pleasure) at all. My dc and I established thus together, so I don't really have to deal with scofflaw issues. Electronic use ends at 8 and doesn't stay before noon, these were also pay if the Big Electronics Conversation. Weekends tend to be a free-for-all, but people have responsibilities to juggle and generally maintain a good attitude when asked to do things, so it is working out. Phone parking is in an it if the way spot which helps limit temptation.

DH and I live outside these rules for the must part. This bothers the strong "Justice" side of me, and occasionally them. 

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I allow phones (and the kids use computers all day anyway for Great Course Lectures, online classes, writing papers - and they can text from their computers using imessage).   We don't usually have any issues.  I do sometimes have to give a stern look to my daughter when I can tell she's gotten distracted and taken longer than necessary -meaning she was probably watching a cat video in between subjects.  Punishment is that her day is longer or she has to work in the car on the way to ballet - natural consequences. 

However if I had homeschooled my eldest who is ADHD, I probably would have handled her differently.  She had a lot of problems with delayed gratification.  The younger kids are much easier going and don't require the same level of oversight. 

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I let her have it in the day as long as she only uses it for music, and only for subjects where that is ok.  If it becomes a distraction, it goes away.

I also let her use it to text her friends just before lunch - she often meets her school friends at the pond near our house to eat during their lunch hour.  I think that's a really positive habit, so she just checks to make sure they will be there.

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I tried to be hands off with my kid but it started to become a problem during school.  Mostly because of one friend who wants to text and have conversations all day long.  It drives me batty.  So now my kid can check it before school starts and then has to put it up on the charger on silent til after school is finished.  I am hesitant to start the lunch break thing because they will start a conversation and then it is hard to get back on track.  I have told her if there is a real issue or scheduling problem etc a friend can just call the house phone during school hours.  No one ever does that though!

I am hoping when this one kid goes to public school next year it will die down on its own.  Hopefully they have a policy or she is distracted by her classwork and new friends.  She is just a really social kid and so is mine so once they start it just keeps going.  I also ask her to put it away for the night (out in the common area) around 10 pm.  Since she doesn't get home from some outside activities til 8:30-9 this seemed reasonable to me.  

I have removed the browser so the phone is not really used for schoolwork.  We use computers or iPads for that instead.  I may put the browser back on next year but I will probably still insist that the kids use the computers for school so the texting doesn't interfere.

 

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We are like 8FillTheHeart.  No cell phones.  

They purchase their own phone usually around the second half of their senior year.  We do have a “kids” phone for dances, babysitting, when they are driving somewhere, etc.

Having said that, they do have iPods which they use to text friends.  They typically have them during the day (if they remember to get them from my room where they’re parked overnight) as they use the calendar and reminders on them.  However, they know if I see them excessively, they’ll be mine which really means if I see them.  They’ve been pretty good about it and it hasn’t been an issue too much.

The one I have the issue with is the senior in high school who is doing all DE at the local community college.  She lives on her device, but she’s 18 and getting all As so far so while I rib her about it, I haven’t been taking it away.  She needs to learn while she’s still home.  Sometimes, she will put it down when I give her a hard time about it.

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No phones during school time sounds reasonable because that is the same rule in schools (does not matter if they did not enforce it). Let her know that she can use her phone in the evening when school is done for the day. Also tell her to let her friends know that they can leave texts or voice messages and that she will get back to them after she finishes work. But, if she is using apps like discord on her phone for group study, then, it is a different matter. 

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My son never used his phone while we were doing school, so not an issue. However, I am a college TA and it irks me that students can't seem to get through a 50 minute class without the phone in their hand. Ironically, the students who do well in class generally don't have their phones out. I don't think it's so much the distraction as it is the discipline to do something or avoid something for a set period of time. 

If I were setting cell phone rules for my son today (or ever myself) I would stress no phones during active class time, then allow breaks and lunch break as free time. Ds and I always had a very interactive type of homeschooling, so I knew he was supposed to be working at the table, etc. Friends can/should be able to learn how to not expect replies when someone is actively in class. 

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On 2/25/2019 at 8:41 AM, hopeistheword said:

My dd14 recently came back home from ps a month into the second semester of grade 9 after giving it a try for one semester (homeschooled exclusively K-8).  Although her school had a "no cell phone in use during school" policy, obviously this was not strictly adhered to (based on how often she texted me during the day).  Up until then we had had a "no cell phone until after school" rule in our homeschool, and it worked fine the year before.  However, now she's accustomed to having her cell phone more, and we're having to reestablish some boundaries.  

Confession: I tend to be heavy-handed about (and annoyed by) the ubiquitous-ness of the cell phone in our everyday lives.  I don't like it.  I'm trying to figure out if I'm being over-the-top by requiring the cell phones to remain stashed in my bedroom until after they've finished school for the day.  I also have a dd13 who will be affected by this rule.  

If your children have cell phones, how does this work in your house?

 

Phones are down in the kitchen during the school day, unless the kid is out of the house or at co-op.  They don't like the rule (they are 14 and 16), but I stick with it because it is a distracting device for everyone here.  Stick to your guns, mom...she'll adjust.

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Some of mine use their phones for music, so I don't really like to take them away.  So, personality plays a role too - some struggle more with this, some less.  If time management becomes an issue, then I either take the device or require that person to do school where I am to help re-establish good habits.  (In other words, this allows them to continue using the phone for music, but nothing else because I am nearby.)    

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What do you do if the things that distract them on the phone are also available on their laptop?  Dd takes online classes and uses her laptop in some capacity for almost every subject.  Some form of texting (be it hangouts, iMessage, etc....) is really the biggest source of distraction for dd.  She is 15 and all of her friends are in school.  If there are any rules about phone use in school, they are NOT being enforced as she has a steady stream of texts coming in all. day. long.  She often turns off her notifications so she doesn't see them but I work out of the home for most of the day and *I* need her to see my texts.  Also, being the only homeschooled kid in her friend group, we try really hard to not put restrictions on her that makes it even harder for her to connect with her friends.  Plans and rides are often settled during school and I don't want her to lose the ability to coordinate.  But she does not need the other 500 texts a day.  

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Coming back to add that late night texting is another problem.  We turn her WIFI off at 10:00 on weeknights and 12:00 on weekends. This is terribly "embarrassing" to dd.  She claims no one else is treated in such a babyish fashion.  And she is right, I have asked the parents of several of her friends and these kids do indeed have full access to their phones all night long.  Some of thee kids are as young as 13 and 14!  And anything discussed past bedtime is usually drama drama drama, which is terrible for healthy sleep habits. Dd struggles with insomnia so I am not about to budge on this.  But it is probably the biggest disagreement we have with her.  She is so mortified that she will not even tell anyone, including her boyfriend, that her WIFI gets shut off.  He just thinks she ghosts him every night at 10:00.....sometimes mid-conversation.  I have encouraged her to make us the "bad guys" and tell everyone that her stupid parents are mean mean MEAN.  I am totally cool with that.  But it is still just too embarrassing for her to bring up.  

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My ds charges/keeps his phone in the kitchen during school hours. This way he can check it and respond to texts during snack breaks, bathroom breaks, while switching between subjects or while taking the dog for a walk. I haven't found it disrupting to school time. He has many conversations during the school day and I wouldn't want him to miss them. He has two sisters in college that he chats with. My husband probably texts him the most. Just short conversations, sharing of pictures and thoughts through the day. The swim coaches only communicate through group text and we need to know if the pool is open (Florida weather brings so much rain) or if practice will be delayed or switched to dry-land. He (and his 15 year old sister in high school) make arrangements for rides to practice when I can't take them. They make weekend plans with their friends or chat about the previous weekend. It is good for him being home. He feels a part of things and has no desire himself to actually go to school in order to be with his friends. 

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