Dear Dr. Bill,
My husband and I have two daughters — ages 15 and 16. Our older one is driving now, and both are constantly on the move. Dad and the girls think getting cell phones for everyone will help us stay better connected, but I’m concerned.
I see so many teenagers wasting time on the phone, gossiping, texting, and talking to boys. Most of all, I’m worried about the COST — I’m sure my girls can use up their minutes for the month in less than a week! What do you think?
You raise some legitimate concerns. Technology benefits us in many ways, but there is a downside to it as well.
Your best plan of action is to lay down some ground rules for your daughters. Have a family meeting and tell them if you decide to allow cell phones, there will be specific guidelines they’ll need to follow.
First of all, I suggest that they pay their own phone bill. That’s a completely reasonable expectation for a teenager.
Also, set your own limit on the time spent talking or texting when they’re at home. I personally think one hour each evening is plenty. And it’s certainly appropriate to expect them to finish their homework and chores before they’re allowed to chat or text.
As far as talking to boys goes—teenage girls have been doing that throughout recorded history. But it’s a very different world today, and you need to teach your daughters to be cautious and discerning. This applies to talking, texting, and social networking. Also, if you aren’t regularly discussing male-female relationships, safety issues and sexual purity, you need to be.