The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 28, 2013

Teach rules with cell phones


DANVILLE — A walk down any street reveals a truth of our society: cell phones can be found everywhere. And, increasingly, they can be found in the hands of younger children who might know how to operate the technology but lack knowledge of the social graces associated with the devices.

Many adults, by the way, lack that same understanding.

Parents can use the decision to buy a cell phone for their child as a perfect time to begin to discuss the rules of when and when not to use them.

Schools, of course, set plenty of rules regarding cell phones. But children need to know to turn off cell phones in restaurants — no, believe it or not, not all your fellow diners want to share in the latest escapes of your besties.

They also should know how to use the cell phone to take full advantage of its safety features, such as GPS tracking and speed dialing those who can help them quickly should a situation arise.

Parents also can help their children learn the rules of cell phone use by setting a good example themselves. No one of any age should text while driving, and many states limit voice use of cell phones to hands-free devices — although even those can create significant distractions when the driver’s attention should be focused on the traffic around him or her.

In a story in today’s Commercial-News, child psychologist Dr. Richard Elghammer reminds parents — and their children — that owning a cell phone is a privilege, not a right. Good behavior brings rewards; misuse can lead to a cell phone being taken away.

Now if only adults could learn those same lessons.