Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Tag: cell phones

Does taking away your teens cellphone really work as punishment?

My daughter’simages.jpg1 friend Tina recently got her phone taken away for lying to her mom and dad. When I asked her why, she said that she was driving a golf cart and accidentally hit her brother’s  foot. Well, her brother, Ryan, started crying and their mom freaked and wanted to know what happened. Tina,  for fear of getting in trouble, lied and said he ran into the cart.  Her brother said that was not not true, Tina ran into him.  Her mom asked a neighbor who happened to have seen the incident and she supported what Ryan stated. Well, Tina’s mom was not only disappointed in Tina for lying, but extremely upset because  she could have seriously hurt her brother.

Tina’s phone was taken from her as punishment and she does not know when she will be getting it back. Now, I understand what Tina did was wrong, but I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. I know every parent disciplines differently, but I would have at least told Tina her exact punishment — a day or two  without the phone —  or I would of had her do the laundry for  a week.

I told Tina she needs to apologize to her brother for hurting him and apologize to her parents for lying and hurting her brother, even if it was an accident. Accidents happen, but lying  will only hurt you in the end.


I have to wonder what punishment would Tina have gotten if she snuck out of her room and went drinking with friends at midnight. Would she  have the phone taken away for a month? It’s unrealistic and I don’t think would work.  If you keep taking the phone away as a punishment for everything your teen does, do you think it’s really going to continue working? For some teens, the first or second time their cellphone is  taken away  becomes their last. They realize it is too painful to be without it.  Yet, some other teens become immune to losing their cell phones. Or, parents give in and give the phone back.

So, I pose this question: Does taking away a teen’s cell phone really work as punishment?



What would you do if this was your daughter?

For several days now, I’ve been upset by a story my kids have told me and I want to get some other parents thoughts.

Here is what happened:

Last weekend, a bunch of kids were at a house party and were drinking. One girl named Emily got drunk and decided to go out on the crowded patio and give her ex-boyfriend oral sex on a lounge chair. Immediately, another teenager whipped out his cellphone and videoed it. He forwarded the video to friends, who forwarded the video to more friends.

It took only about two days for thousands of teens to have seen the video. It not only spread to students at the high school the girl attends but it also made its way to kids phones at two other nearby high schools. The video became so talked about that several of my daughter’s teachers knew about it and discussed it in class. One of my daughter’s teachers urged those who had it on their phones to delete it and told them they could get in trouble for disseminating child pornography.

My daughter was really upset about this whole incident and feels extremely sorry for the girl. My son’s take is different — he called the girl a slut, said she shouldn’t have been doing what she did in public, even if she was drinking. He pointed out that it’s almost an expectation today that anything stupid you do will be videoed by your peers.

A few days after the party, kids from a rival school showed up at a high school basketball game with a sign that said your school sucks and so does Emily. We all know that teens can be VERY mean.

Regardless how you look at this incident, I think it’s horribly sad.  Teens by nature are immature and make mistakes…but now their mistakes are soooo public. Could you imagine what it would have been like to have your teen mistakes caught on video?

I can’t imagine how this girl is going to  shake off the reputation she now has earned.  It’s likely it will  even follow her to college unless she leaves the state.

My daughter also was upset that no one has even mentioned the boy’s name or revealed his identity, only the girl.  I explained to her that unfortunately, that’s how it is and has always been in our society.

My kids have heard that the girl has been tweeting to urge her peers to back off. I really hope this girl is strong enough to withstand the taunting.

How would you handle this situation if you were the girl’s parent?

You might be inclined to preface your answer by saying your daughter would never do something like this but I’m sure Emily’s mom would have said the same thing.

If Emily were my daughter, I think I would get her into counseling pronto. For the rest of us, maybe it’s an opportunity to acknowledge that we live in the digital age and discuss actions and consequences with our kids.



Taking away the cell phone

                                                              Should parents take away cell phones as punishment?



My youngest son has a foul mouth. It’s coming from the music he listens to and the You Tube videos he watches. Sometimes, he’ll walk around the house singing obscene from rap songs or  video.

The more vulgar the song, the more he remembers the lines. I’m constantly on him on about this.

I’ve banned him from You Tube but frankly, it’s too hard to monitor. He pulls it up on a friend’s phone when I’m not around.

Last night, I blew up. He was walking around the house singing a song and doing some gestures that had something to do with a girl humping a guy in the back of a car and trying to pin him down months later as the baby daddy. “Now I’m pregnant and you the pappy…say what?”

The best punishment I could think of was taking away his cell phone. It’s the one thing he really cares about these days. Yet, taking away the phone punishes me as well.  Today after school is the school dance and I want to be in touch with him for pick up.

In some ways, taking away the electronics worries me. The goal, of course, is to help my son learn from his mistakes, make better choices and demonstrate more maturity. We all know that for wired kids, the most impactful consequence is loss of digital privileges. But am I giving electronics more power by using them for discipline? Will taking his cell away make it something he wants to use even more?

I dont’ know about you, but I know how hard it is to enforce digital punishment.  A recent Pew Report found many parents don’t follow through on cellphone bans.

Some parenting experts believe we should use digital punishment sparingly. They say the most effective consequences grow logically out of misbehavior. A kid who sends an inappropriate text loses cellphone access or a kid whose grades suffer because she’s on Facebook instead of doing homework gets social media access taken away. The recommend saying the device is being grounded instead of the child.

So what do you think about digital grounding? Have you ever taken away your teen’s or tween’s cell phone as punishment and if so, did it change the behavior?


Watchdog over Kids’ Cellphones?

My husband recently sent me this article on  software that will monitor your teen’s where about, calls, texts, etc. I found it fascinating and wanted to share it with all of you. I’m not sure what your teen would think of this, but I can tell you my daughter would think I am invading her privacy. However, like the parents in the article state, it’s our jobs as parents to protect our children. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Software keeps dogged watch over kids’ cellphone activity

By Nicole Brochu, Sun-Sentinel, Staff writer 4:25 p.m. EST, January 14, 2012

When Matthew and Angela Sima bought their middle-schooler her first cellphone, it came with a wake-up call. A stranger started sending their little girl unsolicited text messages.

So, the Jupiter couple took a proactive step: they turned to parent monitoring software to track their daughter’s cellphone activity. Just like computer monitoring software, which became all the rage once the personal computer proliferated in American homes, cellphone monitoring software for parents is growing in popularity in a world where the average teenager has a cellphone within reach 24/7.

Using My Mobile Watchdog in the three years since, the Simas can not only monitor the texts, emails and photos sent or received, the applications downloaded and Internet searches performed on their daughter’s phone, but they can block applications and control the times she uses the phone. Even better, the Simas said, they get instantaneous alerts whenever contact is made by or to a phone number not on a pre-approved list.

“There’s no such thing as privacy in our family,” Angela Sima told her daughter when she objected to the extra set of eyes. “Our job is to protect her.”

A 2010 Pew Research Center study found that 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have cellphones — up from 45 percent in 2004. More of these devices are smart phones, the high-tech variety with Internet access, media players and the amplified cyber-dangers that come with them. “Kids didn’t used to have smart phones. Now, they want a smart phone more than a laptop [computer] or a bike,” said Robert Lotter, CEO of eAgency Mobile Security, the makers of My Mobile Watchdog. “The smart phone market has increased the threat [to children] dramatically, so there is definitely an uptrend” in parents’ buying monitoring control products.

In a July 2011 study, the Family Online Safety Institute found that 25 percent of the parents surveyed used parental controls to monitor their kids’ cellphone use; 44 percent restricted kids’ ability to download games and applications; and 70 percent checked their kids’ cellphone for sent and received text messages. “Our kids are vulnerable. That’s why we protect them,” said Greg Schiller, a Special Victims Unit prosecutor for the Palm Beach County Sexual Predator Enforcement Program. “This kind of software allows parents to be there and make sure no one is taking advantage of their child.”

The idea, too, is to protect kids from themselves. “You hear so many stories about kids going off with the wrong crowd, or sending inappropriate pictures back and forth,” said Mae Belgrave, 33, a Boca Raton software developer and mother of three. “You think you know your kids, but they’re like totally different people when they’re around their friends. So, you just worry about them, and the cellphone gives them so much freedom these days.” Her 12-year-old’s phone has Mobile Spy, which allows Belgrave to keep up with her texts, phone calls and — thanks to a GPS tracker — movements.

“That’s a wonderful feature, to be able to check to see she went where she said she was going to,” said Belgrave, who is even more confident in her daughter’s trustworthiness after a year of seeing nothing amiss via Mobile Spy. “She’s responsible. We just wanted to take that extra precaution.”

Detective Rich Wistocki handles Internet crimes against children for a suburban Chicago police department and, as a private consultant, travels the country speaking to parents about how to avoid cyber-dangers. Topping his list of recommendations is My Mobile Watchdog, which is used not just by parents but by law enforcement agencies that have found it vital in tracking down predators and drug dealers. Wistocki credits the product with helping his department capture about 15 sexual predators and 50 drug dealers in the past three years.

“My Mobile Watchdog allows parents to be in their child’s life,” he said. “Other companies say they do what [My Mobile Watchdog] does, but I haven’t seen it.”

But there are plenty of competitors, mostly spyware companies such as Mobile Spy. Whether one is better than the other is up for the consumer’s interpretation, but there’s no question they offer different products. One of the biggest differences is in the spying. Spyware can be installed on anyone’s phone — a child’s, a spouse’s, an employee’s — without their knowing. My Mobile Watchdog is only for parental monitoring of kids’ phones, and a periodic notification is sent to the kids’ devices telling them they’re being monitored. Lotter said the difference is intentional, because he has a moral objection to spying on anyone, even children.

While some people may think such extensive monitoring sounds intrusive, experts say it’s a responsible, and legally viable, means of keeping close watch over kids, whether parents tell them or not. “One hundred percent,” said David Seltzer, a former cyber-crimes prosecutor and now a cyber-crimes defense lawyer in Miami. “I recommend it to all my clients.”

Stealth monitoring of such activity may be a technical violation of Florida’s wiretapping statute, Seltzer said, but it’s not prosecuted in such instances. “Unless the child is an emancipated adult, you can monitor their activity” on the cellphone without their knowing, he said. Whether parents should tell the kids they’re being monitored, he added, “depends on the child.” Belgrave, though, said she and her husband opted to tell their daughter about the spyware: “If she wanted to have a phone, that was going to be how it goes.”

No matter what monitoring device they use, it’s critical in today’s hyper-connected age that parents stay plugged in, said Mary McLaughlin, a cyber-security analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Computer Crime Center. “Parents need to make sure they are as involved as they can be in their child’s digital life,” she said. “They need to stay on top of what their child is doing.”



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