Cell­phones in schools

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY - – Com­mon Sense Me­dia/ Tri­bune News Ser­vice By CAROLINE KNORR

WHETHER your kid is head­ing to school tot­ing a brand- new de­vice or is al­ready a cell­phone pro, you want ev­ery­one on the same page about the dos and don’ts. You can keep an eye on kids at home ( kind of ), but at school, they’re on their own. As with any kind of bound­ary set­ting, th­ese con­ver­sa­tions can be tense. For­tu­nately, there are only five rules for them to re­mem­ber – and one for you, to show that you’re all in this to­gether.

Here are five key guide­lines for cell­phone car­ry­ing kids:

1 Re­spect the school’s rules. Some schools per­mit stu­dents to use their phones at cer­tain times, some­times not at all. Abus­ing this priv­i­lege – like, by tex­ting dur­ing a test or play­ing Poke­mon GO in school – could get your phone taken away and pos­si­bly jeop­ar­dise your class­mates’ free­dom. Only use your phone when you’re al­lowed to on school grounds.

2 Pick up when it’s par­ents call­ing. Ugh, why can’t they just text like ev­ery­one else? Some­times mum or dad needs to talk to you. It’s prob­a­bly very im­por­tant, so don’t send it to voice­mail.

3 Ask per­mis­sion be­fore down­load­ing any­thing. Even if you have your own app store ac­count, get sign off on any apps you down­load. If some­thing has in- app pur­chases, those costs could wind up on your par­ents’ bill – so they need to know about those ex­tra charges. They also need to make sure it’s age ap­pro­pri­ate and rea­son­ably good for you.

4 Don’t flaunt it. Own­ing a cell phone is a priv­i­lege that not ev­ery kid has ac­cess to. It’s OK to be proud of your phone but show­ing off could make other peo­ple feel bad. Also, it could get stolen.

5 Use your phone for good, not evil. You’ll see all kinds of mis­be­haviour and mis­chief re­gard­ing phones in school. Be re­spect­ful and re­spon­si­ble with yours. Ask per­mis­sion be­fore tak­ing some­one’s pic­ture. Take a mo­ment to con­sider whether a text or video could hurt, an­noy, or em­bar­rass some­one else. Turn off the phone when you’re sup­posed to. Don’t let the phone be more im­por­tant than some­one stand­ing right in front of you.

And here’s our es­sen­tial rule for par­ents:

Don’t text your kid dur­ing the school day. Un­less it’s a real emer­gency – like, you’re go­ing to the hos­pi­tal – re­sist the urge to text your kid dur­ing the school day. Kids have sur­vived for many, many years with­out talk­ing to their par­ents while they’re at school – and they need to be al­lowed in­de­pen­dence. And if your kid texts you, make sure he’s not break­ing any rules to do so.

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