Can you hear me now?

The jalapeno is in 7th grade and has had an iPhone for about six months now. We've recently started using a built-in feature called downtime to ensure he's staying off the phone during school and at bedtime. It's a nice concept, but you can't schedule multiple on and off times; so we schedule it until his lunchtime and then have to manually go in and restart it for the afternoon. Does anyone 'round these parts have a recommendation for other programs? I'm happy to pay for something that doesn't cause so many scheduling headaches.

46 thoughts on “Can you hear me now?”

  1. Well, we staunchly refuse to let our kids get smartphones (Aquinas is also a 7th grader), so I'm no help with the specifics.

    But let me add one word of experience - in my time in the criminal justice system I have often seen phones leading to/exacerbating issues. Often with students you wouldn't expect (peer pressure and FOMO are powerful beasts). Sometimes it's a simple as repeatedly staying up too late playing a game (do not let kids use phones as alarm clocks! Phones stay out of bedrooms!), sometimes it's access to pornography, sometimes it's soliciting/sending inappropriate things with classmates, sometimes it's being bullied by other students, sometimes it's doing the bullying, sometimes it's drugs, and sometimes it's worse. Obviously not every kid has issues, and I'd suspect, knowing you a bit, that if the apple stayed close to the tree, he's fine.

    BUT! The advice I frequently give for these issues is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and staying active in monitoring your child (including especially teenagers) is essential. So if I were to give advice, my advice would be to not look for technological shortcuts on monitoring/setting restrictions. The fact that you have to physically handle his phone multiple times a day should be seen as a blessing in disguise.

    1. It's a difficult issue.

      I remember being at a volleyball dinner when my daughter was in sixth or seventh grade. I think my daughter was the only one without a phone. All the other girls were on some app and giggling. She just sat there. None of the other parents told their kids to put their phones away. It was pretty depressing.

      1. Oh yes, it is not an easy issue at all. And getting other parents on board with at least some reasonable limits would go a long way towards helping all of the students. It's why I feel it is important to speak up on these things. I've had the opportunity to see a lot of stuff that a lot of parents haven't. I could go on and on. And a lot of parents think their kids will be responsible (because they're relatively responsible, compared to other kids), but they simply won't be, because they're still kids. Indeed, it's often the good kids who make some pretty boneheaded mistakes. There's no substitute for actively parenting with phones. Well, no phone is a substitute. But for some reason, lots of parents don't see that as an option. (I don't mean this as a condemnation - I think a lot of people just haven't really thought about this, and obviously the norms are to have phones, so... we go along.)

        I wouldn't be surprised if 20 years down the road we discover that phones were this generation's cigarettes, and no one under 18 should be allowed to have them. At a minimum, we should be having classes for them like we do cars or firearms.

          1. Spoiler SelectShow
    2. Thanks for sharing your experience. In our case, the jalapeno is a very social kid who developed serious mental health issues as the pandemic dragged on. We got him the phone last summer because the his friends now make their own plans, and the alternative was him constantly being left out. We live in a very walkable/bikeable community, so they'd meet up at the park and spend 4-5 hours together, so the phone also allowed us to communicate with him about where he was going, being home for dinner, etc.

      We've definitely had (and will continue to have) conversations about all of these issues with him. I read an interesting book over the holidays that has to do with focus, attention spans, and technology, and one of the takeaways for me was that because apps are designed to make money by keeping all of us on them as much as possible, tools that limit screen time in different ways can be valuable. And knowing about those tools will hopefully be beneficial well beyond middle school.

      1. Aquinas being less social definitely makes it easier for us. That said, we've been starting to look into non-smart phone options for him to be able to have that contact, without a lot of the same issues. Indeed, phones without internet/photo capabilities are probably the ideal, as it cuts down on so many of the dangerous issues. But they're way harder to buy.

          1. We'd like a phone that does texting better than a flip phone. In the past when we've looked, going full smart phone is often cheaper. Admittedly, I haven't actually looked recently, we've just been talking about it again.

              1. Ooh, I recognize the name because Philosofette just heard about those too. I'll check 'em out, thanks!

      2. Kernel is in 6th grade and claims (maybe true) that she’s the only girl in class who doesn’t have a phone. We’ve been pretty consistent in telling her it’s not happening until she’s a teenager (so basically 8th grade) and even then not a smart phone.

        She uses kids messenger on our family iPad and has a Chromebook for school work that doesn’t seem to have much in the way of restricting access to YT or presumably social media (dunno … she’s not on social media). In any case, she hasn’t demonstrated the maturity to avoid the clickbait, is prone to falling down the rabbit hole feeds and the attendant instant gratification, and she’s curious about at least some of the more young adult becoming a teenaged girl stuff which is both understandable and terrifying. I’m firmly in the no phone for kids camp, but I’m also of the mind that we’ll need to relent when she hits high school and does more school activities or babysitting for us.

    3. heck, one of our classmates who was a good student and never in trouble wound up going to like Ohio to meet an older man she talked to on AOL. Made the news. I am grateful the internet in the late 90s was less scary than it is now and that it required the patience of the 2800 baud modem we had to access it

      1. I have zero memory of that.

        Probably because I didn't have a phone to get all the gossip. (Seriously though, I don't recall that at all!)

    4. I'm 90% sure our oldest, a fourth grader, has ADHD. Any electronic device will need very strict controls on it. I could put only Wikipedia on it and that'd be too much.

      1. My oldest was ALWAYS screen-fascinated. ATMs, mall information kiosks - you name it, he wanted to touch it.
        Add the touch of ADHD….Yeah, his phone was a terrible idea.

        1. Yeah, my son has textbook ADHD, so maybe getting him a device that adds a controller around his phone and allows him to directly stream the Xbox to it wasn't the greatest idea of all time...

  2. I need all the good vibrations anyone has to spare. Open house today from 12-2 central. Hopefully qualified offers there after. Saint Joseph is watching over my front door.

    1. Good luck!

      (Also, didn't realize Papa Young was going to hit you up with a random email right after asking me for your address!)

  3. Apple won't let 3rd party apps do this ... because apple. It has been a requested option for years. If you can I'd just try to take the phone with you at night. Not ideal, but an annoying situation.

    1. Gah, I should have known. If they'd just add in a scheduling feature for more than one period of time, it would really help.

      In general, the phone charges outside of his room at night. Once in a while on the weekend, we'll let him stay up later ()(e.g. 11:30 pm) and have his phone, but I want his apps turned off at a certain time so that I'm not obligated to physically take the phone away at the appointed time.

  4. I am not going to give any advice on this because I am a bad parent with regards to screen time.

  5. I was sitting between nephew (10) and his dad (my bro) last weekend. Brother asked in front of him what I thought about phones for kids.
    I made sure the response was clear: “It’s the worst mistake I ever made”.
    Now, I’ve made my fair share of poor decisions. I got a philosophy degree and then joined the Army.
    But if it’s not the worst decision, it’s up there. I hate it.
    There’s no good system I know of. We used T-mobile “family time” but then you end up as a gatekeeper granting and recinding their deepest desire, so that’s not a cool place to be in a parent-child relationship.
    If you must…establish rock-solid rules and be ready to enforce them as though they were the immutable laws of nature. Cracks and exceptions become standards faster than you can imagine, and if you’re in any way conflict-averse, or otherwise energy-compromised, you get worn down before you realize. No phone isn’t a great place to be either, but maintaining that safe middle ground is an intensive place.

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