Cellphone and the kids

Parental influence on children in the first 12 years of their lives have a permanent effect. Unfortunately, children come with no user manual. Each child is different from the other. Discuss how to handle emotional and educational needs of your child here.

Cellphone and the kids

Postby Nebbermind » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:50 am

This was a letter to TODAY ppr last Friday.

I kinda can identify with this parent. The moment I put down my phone when I reached home at the end of the day, my boy will pick it up and start checking his FB and whatever nonsense. It's alot more convenient since it doesn't require booting, very portable and handy.

Now that most basic phones are smart phones, I can imagine him tapping away the whole day in school, at home or whereever there's connectivity (assume no 3G card given to him) if he is ever given one.

Do you struggle with this too?

The day I confiscated my 12-year-old's handphone

by Foo Chin Peng 04:46 AM Apr 15, 2011


My daughter got her mobile phone when she was aged 12. It was mainly so that I could coordinate picking her and her younger brother up from school, especially when I got tied up in meetings, work or traffic. If I could not make it I could text them to use public transport to go home.

The phone came with a prepaid card so we could control the charges. For many parents this is their main worry. The first massive phone bill is always a shock, and is followed by an interrogation session and the start of monitoring their child's phone habits.

In my case, I began to note my daughter's mobile phone habits after she started Secondary 1 - a stage which, these days, seems to signal the growing use of social networking applications. She would be holding onto her mobile phone every second of the day, even when she went to the bathroom.

While doing her schoolwork, her phone would be close by and she would check it every few minutes. (One friend said at bedtime, her daughter pulls the blanket over her head and taps away on her phone.)

At first, I merely reminded my daughter about the responsible use of the mobile phone and how it could affect her studies. Then, we had several discussions. And subsequently, she was threatened with the removal of her privileges if she did not start controlling her usage.

All this went in one ear and out the other. Just for the record, my daughter is usually not a difficult child to deal with - she is an above-average student and relatively disciplined.

By the second term in Secondary 1, I grew curious and concerned enough to secretly check her phone. Lo and behold there were more text messages than I expected, and they were coming in at unexpected hours of the day - in the early morning and during school hours. It suddenly dawned on me that she had been in the bathroom for longer and longer periods in the morning.

School rules usually prohibit students from using their phones during school hours. I am not sure how effective this is. It could be that the children easily outwit their teachers on the use of these new gadgets.

As I write this, it has been more than three weeks since her dad and I confiscated our daughter's mobile phone. The verbal exchange with her was decidedly dramatic - tempers flew and tears flowed. The atmosphere at home was deathly for several days.

We have managed to work out an arrangement to pick her up from school without using the mobile phone. It took some sacrifices on her part and mine. At this juncture, I am contemplating giving her back her phone privileges, but am trying to decide on the rules and, more importantly, whether she has learnt her lesson.

If I have my way, the mobile phone would be turned on and used only at designated times. This rule will only work, however, if both parties agree to it. Is her attachment to her mobile phone some kind of addiction? Am I fighting a losing battle?

After discussing with my spouse and cousin, I believe we are doing the right thing. Now I am hoping, in sharing my experience with all parents, that perhaps I can get some advice. (I'm sure I will also get complaints, including from teens.) My tip for those of you considering getting your child a mobile phone: It might be a good idea to set out the rules first.

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Postby janet88 » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:57 am

We started giving son a mobile phone in P4...reason is to coordinate picking him after his suppl lessons. Simple phone with no internet access so cannot access Facebook. At most play games while waiting.
Condition is his outgoing calls cannot exceed 100 min or else he will have to go without pocket money.

I know some kids took over IPHONE 3GS when parents upgraded to Iphone 4 but it won't happen for my son.

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Re: Cellphone and the kids

Postby tamarind » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:06 am

Nebbermind wrote:This was a letter to TODAY ppr last Friday.

I kinda can identify with this parent. The moment I put down my phone when I reached home at the end of the day, my boy will pick it up and start checking his FB and whatever nonsense. It's alot more convenient since it doesn't require booting, very portable and handy.

Now that most basic phones are smart phones, I can imagine him tapping away the whole day in school, at home or whereever there's connectivity (assume no 3G card given to him) if he is ever given one.

Do you struggle with this too?


You mean there is wireless networks in primary school ? If it is for teachers, it should be locked by a password, right ? Even wireless networks at home can be locked by passwords.

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Postby LOLMum » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:16 am

never had a problem until dd got an iphone. it is like her shadow.

i make her use the house phone to call her friends and if her friends call her on the cellphone while she's home, they have to switch to the house phone.

but dd use the cellphone for listening to music and that stupid "tiwtter" thingy most of the time. with friends, it is skype, msn etc.

but i do get upset when she uses the phone for the above when we are spending time together.

took her phone away once and 2 mini drama queens popped up (mum and daughter dearest) on stage. mama queen won.

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Postby Nebbermind » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:18 am

A reply by a teenage on 18 April 2011

Better ways than to spy on your child

Letter from Charles Tan 04:46 AM Apr 18, 2011



I REFER to the letter "The day I confiscated my 12-year-old's handphone" (April 14) by Foo Chin Peng. Having been in a similar situation, I can empathise with her daughter and would like to offer some insight from the perspective of a teenager.

I got my first mobile phone in primary school. Similar to the reasons cited by the author, it was meant for my parents to stay in contact with me while I went for co-curricular activities and to coordinate pick-ups.

However, like Ms Foo's daughter, I often used the phone to SMS friends, even during school hours. This was even as my parents and the school reminded me not to do so. Like the author, my parents secretly checked my phone, suspicious as they were of the text messages I was receiving. Like all protective parents they were afraid, I felt, that I was up to some "hanky-panky". I was not.

I only realised what transpired every night as I slept when they suddenly reprimanded me one morning regarding a SMS sent to a friend about certain family grouses. They were angry that I had "exposed dirty laundry", although I was adamant that I knew what I was doing and had not jeopardised our family. The phone was also confiscated for a while.

The situation was resolved in the end, but I felt that my privacy had been invaded, and some confidence in my parents was eroded, especially as they could not trust that I was an intelligent boy. Over the years, my parents have come to that realisation and no longer engage in such clandestine activities. I am grateful.

Thus, I would warn parents against confiscation and checking the child's mobile activities on the sly - at least do it with the child's knowledge. I understand that parents want to protect their children, but there are better ways to do so.

I believe parents should emphasise to their children the dangers of engaging with strangers. Excessive mobile usage can be throttled by perhaps purchasing less feature-rich handsets.

I know friends who busted their limits on their first phone bill and I actually suggest that parents let their children do so. This should be followed by a warning and punishment in the form of deducting the excess charges from the child's allowance, which would inculcate a sense of ownership of the costs.

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Postby Nebbermind » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:23 am

there's wifi in some sec school but I'm not sure if they r blocked from accessing other website.
then again, wireless@SG may be available depending on location.

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Postby tamarind » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:27 pm

Parents should complain to the principal if the school allows kids to connect to WIFI without any control. At homes and schools, WIFI should always be password protected and kids should never be allowed free access.

As for wireless@SG, it is not difficult to control, just don't let your kids spend too much time at shopping malls, etc.

Even if kids don't have a mobile phone, they will need a laptop to do their work in secondary school right ?

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Postby Nebbermind » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:37 pm

well, I know of someone in HCI who graduated 1~2 yrs ago who spent 6 yrs there without a laptop!!!

:celebrate:

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Postby tamarind » Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:13 pm

Can parents keep computers away from kids until they graduate from university ? :roll:

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Postby BeContented » Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:19 pm

tamarind wrote:Can parents keep computers away from kids until they graduate from university ? :roll:


Ha ha....wonder will my DS will run away from home by P6 if I dun allow him a computer/phone.
He has been a good boy and did not pester us when we rejected his request for iPhone. But he's now bringing food from home for recess almost daily so that he can save up his allowance. By then hard to reject liao......cos' in the past, we have been advocating "Save up your own money to buy the things you want" :roll:

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