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How do you parents handle teens and their cellphone/texting behavior?

Original post made by Big Meanie, Valley Trails, on Mar 3, 2009

Just curious what rules any of you have on your teens' cellphone use. My daughters (13 and 16) are convinced I am the world's meanest dad because I make them put their cellphones on the kitchen counter while doing homework, and cut off their cellphone use at bedtime (back on the counter). This last rule really gets them all huffy. <br><br>

I think these 2 rules are pretty straightforward and fair. It obviously takes them way longer to finish their homework if they're texting at the same time (they wouldn't be doing it in school) and on a school night, access to ALL media (internet/TV/phone) ends at bedtime.<br><br>

Other than that, they're pretty much free to use them as they wish. Plus, I'm paying for them. What do you all think?<br>

Comments (37)

Posted by No afraid to be a "big meanie"
a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:17 am

I think you are a great mom/dad. I know kids who aren't allowed to text at all and then those that have no texting limitations. I think a compromise between the two is the best. Bravo!
I also limit my kids "media" time until homework is done, always have, and I have seen nothing but positive results. They are more organized, focused, maintain good grades and feel a sense of accomplishment when the work is done and then they get the rewards of TV, texting, computer...

Posted by Ptown Family
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:33 am

When our teens were that age, we had similar rules. I said I would never have a phone in the their rooms but cellphones changed the playing field.

When they first got cellphones, no phones at the table, no phones (texting) while watching movies with the family, phones left in the car for church, phones on the table while studying, and no texting or calling after 10 pm on school nights.

I did not take the phones away at night, but relied on their willpower and reviewed their bill closely for times. If they didn't follow the rules, the phones were put on the kitchen table at night. Sometimes I removed the texting plan all together to make my point.

You can't watch them all the time. Give 'em enough rope and let them suffer consequences of clear boundaries.

Does that help?

My kids claim we are the odd parents too.

Posted by duh!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:34 am

why do they need a cellphone to begin with? It's silly!

Posted by Dad
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:35 am

Just to clarify, virtually ALL kids tell their parents they are the meanest!!! Best thing I ever did was as you have, start asking other parents regarding what they do. That way you really know what is reasonable with their peers. Kids today sleep with Ipods in their ears, TV on, cell phone next to pillow and lights full blast. Too much stimulation IMHO.

Posted by Ceaser
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

An entire generation are compuslive texters and computer users.
They are starting to hit the work force they are a joke.
It starts as teenagers when they begin texting.
A typical text starts with something like
" I'm bored, what are you doing"
or " I miss you".

Give me a frigin break!

President Obams often says that the American people are what makes this country great. Quite frankly, if we have to rely on the moronic texting generation, we are doomed.

Posted by Big Meanie
a resident of Valley Trails
on Mar 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Hey Ceaser, classifying my kids or any other kids as morons simply because they are adept at new techonologies is a lame attempt at trolling, or possibly just you flaunting your ignorance. Go away, troll.

To others, thanks for your constructive comments ... ttyl

Posted by patty
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm

As a teacher, I can tell you that texting is a nightmare. I require all cell phones to be placed on their desks when they are in my class. The most appalling thing is when PARENTS are texting their kids during the day. Ridiculous! When I confiscated a phone from a student, the parent didn't seem to understand why. In short, texting inhibits a child's ability to focus on their studies, and clearly fosters anti-social behavior. For my own kids, the cell phones are left on the counter during homework time and bedtime. Lastly, I'd like to say to all those parents who allow their kids to 'text' at the dinner table in restaurants; you are encouraging rude behavior!

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 3, 2009 at 5:31 pm

I saw a lady today with a cell phone held up to her ear and trying to hold a conversation with a person on the phone while at the same time trying to say hi to some people she recognized. I don't know if she realized how absurd she looked.

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm

P.S. I think what you're doing is fine.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 3, 2009 at 6:05 pm


Who cares if your kids think you are mean. You are there to parent them, not to be their friend. Kids need boundries. Also, don't use the word "huffy" it makes you sound old.

Posted by Teacher
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 3, 2009 at 6:16 pm

PLEASE - - keep doing what you are doing. Take it a step further and take them away during school hours. It is impossible for us to get them to stop texting during class. And, like you said, the stuff they text about is moronic.
I agree with a previous poster that if we are to continue in this way we will be a nation of morons. The kids are not learning normal social skills.

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

I'm just curious. Why is there apparently not a "cell phones off" rule in school?

Posted by Big Meanie
a resident of Valley Trails
on Mar 3, 2009 at 8:09 pm

yes, I agree that I am not here to be my kids' friend as much as their parent. I am convinced my rules on cellphone use are more than fair, despite what they say. They're lucky we are able to afford them the luxury. I was simply curious as to what other parents are doing nowadays.

Posted by Ceaser
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 3, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Big Weeny

Sticks and stones.

Back to the subject at hand. I hired a young high school teacher to watch my kids last summer and she could not stop texting. It is a mental illness. Also, I know of two teenagers than never speak verbally to each other even if they are in each other's pressence.
That is retarded.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:23 pm


My kids also think I'm mean but they seem to have a lot of good stuff. They're too young to have cell phones but my daughter keeps asking me for one.

Posted by Small Mike
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2009 at 1:13 am

No 1 cn spl anymr either. U R the parent? Act lke it. LOL. Gotta go, KOS (kid over shoulder)

Posted by Cari
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 4, 2009 at 8:10 am

I utilize those same rules. My cell service is with TMobile, and they have "family allowances" that let me block usage during certain times of the day, with the exception of numbers I can program. This helps tremendously, because my daughter would text the entire day at school. I wish the schools would enforce their "Cell Phone" rules and take the phones away from the kids, however, my kids say the teachers are on their cell phones in class, so who monitors them.

Posted by JB
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Mar 4, 2009 at 10:04 am


I think you are right on. I do not let my kids have their cell phones during homework or dinner. That is the time to concentrate and a time for family. In fact they have to turn them off. If they do not they will ring or vibrate and that will make them want to get up and check who sent them a message. They are also not allowed to have them on during school hours. Sometimes I will call or text them to see if they turned them off. I am often called the meanest dad.

Caeser, they are still kids and to call them names makes you look like one. Didn't you do something with your generation that made your parents scratch their heads? Long Hair, Music, Mo Hawk, Drugs, Bell Bottoms, Something? Or have you always been perfect?

Posted by lyndalu
a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 4, 2009 at 10:11 am

It's easy, I just contacted our cell phone provider and blocked texting on my son's phone. I did this because he had run up $50 in text messaging one month.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Avila
on Mar 4, 2009 at 10:13 am

I had a Professor in college who threw cell phones out the window if they went off in class, God I miss him. BTW I took the text option off my kids phones and their grade point average went up, Go figure!

Posted by BR
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Mar 4, 2009 at 10:20 am


I had similar rules for my kids who are now adults. They now thank me for being a parent who set rules and guidelines and didn't give in to pressure from them, their friends or their friends parents to follow the crowd. We as adults can now be "friends" with our kids and take pride in the wonderful human beings they have become!

Posted by Kerry
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2009 at 10:47 am

We bought the phone for our son for his 12th birthday (he is 13 next week), but decided on the Pay-as-you-Go plan rather than adding him to our service. He is responsible for paying all fees. This is a bit of a challenge because his argument is that he pays, so he should get to use it whenever he wants. But, on the flip side, we find that he is very conservative with using it and he cools off his friends if they call/text him excessively because it costs him. Our bigger challenge is that he has a laptop for school and is using IM alot - - probably during homework, but without watching over his shoulder.....
I guess if we're going to give them the tools (toys?) we just have to instill the proper measure of responsibility, restraint, and respect along with the privilege and hope that they catch on. Our rule is that if grades are not kept at an expected level, these privileges will be impacted.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2009 at 11:08 am

My children have cell phones for safety reasons. I do not allow them to send text messages. If their friends text them, they know they have to call them back instead or wait until they get home and send an email.

Texting is not good for many reasons: you do not really know who is on the other end, there could be many people sending one text and pretending, and texting also interferes with proper social interaction since many children prefer the safety of texting than that of one-on-one or phone conversations.

Texting, in my opinion, is wrong for children and teens, so I do not allow my kids to be a part of it.

Posted by teacher
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 4, 2009 at 1:06 pm

"I'm just curious. Why is there apparently not a "cell phones off" rule in school?"

There is a rule, and the teachers enforce it. Here's the protocol:

1st offense: take the phone away and give it back at the end of the period
2nd offense: give the phone to the office (which is a huge pain, by the way, because we only have a 6 minute passing period and have to prepare to teach... and maybe go to the bathroom?) and the student picks it up at the end of the day.
3rd offense: give it to the office (again) and the parents have to come pick it up (and many of them get mad at the teacher or the school instead of their own kid b/c of the hassle.

Now multiply this process by 34 kids while you're also enforcing the dress code, telling them to take I-pods out of their ears, etc. and let's not forget TEACHING. It's just a nightmare.

One other thing is that the kids are so practiced at texting while hiding it from the teacher that they can text without having to look at the keypad with the phone in their pocket (or with the phone between their legs under their desk, which really puts the teacher in an uncomfortable situation).

Parents, please help us with this! It really does undermine the learning process. On top of that, we teachers don't want to be the "phone Nazis". We'd rather put our energies into developing positive, trusting relationships with our students.

Posted by ex-sub
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm

We only allowed text added to the phone after a 3.0 from each kid. Same rules as the original dad plus no texting/phone calls at dinner - we still have a family dinner - and if we go out, no phones (up on the table in silent or off).

When I substituted, I was told no electronics. I didn't know the protocol as given above. One kid came in talking on the cellphone. When the bell rang, I asked him & the rest to put all electronics away. Another was listening to a walkman / ipod (it was a number of years ago.) I confiscated it for the period. The sophomore was upset because I hadn't turned it off and "wasted" his batteries. In the next period, I told the class "no electronics". If I find one, I'm confiscating it and you can pick up at the end of the day from me. If you miss me, you can pick it up at the office. I didn't have problems for the rest of the day (I don't think kids have changed much - test substitutes to see how much you can get away with is the name of the game.)

I have received text messages from my kid at school - I'm at work. Text at my work place works - often phone does not. I do know the questions are between bells and the response can be seen then or at the next bell. Kid at college also texts. I finally figured out e-mailing him is much easier (graduation present was a blackberry).

I did see an improvement in my son's writing when he started e-mailing and later texting. He only "graduated out" of needing CLAD trained teachers as a senior; he was mainstreamed and not in English as a Second Language - he started learning English in 2nd grade. His younger sister started in K as an "above average" student - English acquisition came very quickly for her learning within the 6 months of the K testing. He still needed remedial English in college (this semester) and had tutoring to get him through some classes based on essay tests last semester. However, please note - e-mail & texting was after homework was completed.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of California Somerset
on Mar 4, 2009 at 9:53 pm

I think you're more than reasonable, and you actually care. You're being a good parent.

Posted by Laura
a resident of California Somerset
on Mar 4, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Speaking of cell phones, I learned today that we are all morons to sign two year cell phone contracts. Most of us would save money by buying minutes.

Posted by Big mike
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 4, 2009 at 10:53 pm

(Comment deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2009 at 12:07 am

As I said on another board...Big Mike...get help! (And I don't just mean with your deplorable spelling!).

Posted by 2nd meanest dad
a resident of Hacienda Gardens
on Mar 5, 2009 at 10:08 am

Dad, you are doing the right thing.


2nd meanest dad in the world according to my 14 and 16 year old children!

Posted by Teacher
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 5, 2009 at 11:14 am

Good job mean dads!!

I am a teacher in another district, and similar to Pleasanton, we also have a cell phone policy. It seems to me that the policy in PUSD may be too loose.

In our district:
First Offense: Phone taken away, given to office to hold for a minimum of 24 hours at which time the parent/guardian need to come pick it up - no exceptions...If your parent's are working...TOO shouldn't have been using your phone!!
Second Offense: Same as first. Students also assigned a Saturday School. If they don't make it to Saturday school, it is doubled.
Third Offense and each subsequent offense: Same as first and second. An additional Saturday School and assigned to on campus community service.

I teach 11th and 12th graders and it is rare that phones become a problem. Students test the waters at the beginning of the year, but once they see the teacher is consistent in enforcing the rules, the problem stops.

Posted by Teacher
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 5, 2009 at 11:16 am

I forgot to mention...

Phones need to be OFF and in the student's backpack (not in their pocket.) This prevents students from texting while not looking or the classic "I was just checking to see what time it is."

Posted by Soccermom
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Mar 6, 2009 at 9:46 am

We have a simple solution in our household-- the boys' cell phones have the texting feature disabled. Meaning, our carrier (AT&T) does not provide that service for our kids' cell phones. I know our older boy would be the texting king of the world if we allowed it. I don't know why the service carriers charge so much more for texting anyway, since my understanding is that it requires less bandwidth than voice. Go figure. Bottom line-- have texting disabled! Why pay for that extra feature for your kids to text "I'm bored" to their friends? Bored?? Go read a book!!

Posted by Brad
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2009 at 10:23 am

It's good training for the future. Like it or not, texting, micro-blogging, etc. are the skills used in the new business world.

Posted by kid who doesn't like your comments
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2009 at 2:23 pm

[post removed due to not furthering discussion]

Posted by bob
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2009 at 2:29 pm

[post removed due to not furthering discussion]

Posted by bob
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2009 at 2:29 pm

[post removed due to not furthering discussion]

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