I’ve written in the past about the opportunities technology provides for learning and have even written about how choosing a cell phone with your child can become a real-life math lesson.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Better Moments panel sponsored by U.S. Cellular that was a discussion of how families can leverage the use of cell phones and technology to create better moments together.
It was a really interesting discussion; I loved hearing how other parents have managed their children’s’ use of cell phones and seeing the materials and tools that U.S. Cellular has available to help parents do that.
I should stop here and say I’m not a U.S.Cellular customer, although after this panel, I’m actively exploring ways to change that.
I realized that the teachable moments that giving your child a cell phone can bring about are ongoing and not only for kids. Here are some of the teachable moments you can leverage from this milestone experience:
- Budgeting. You and your child can work together not only to see how adding a cell phone line to your plan works with the family budget, but also how your child needs to budget his allotted cell phone time. If you’re sharing minutes, how many can each line use per month? How will your child keep track of his usage? How many minutes can he use per day to stay within his budget?
- Personal responsibility. When our first child was given a cell phone, we created a contract surrounding when the phone could be used, who would be on the whitelist of phone numbers, and what would happen if the phone got lost or damaged. (U.S. Cellular actually has a Parent-Child Agreement that can be used to help in this process.)
- Lifelong learning. It’s not just kids who can learn from this–parents can, too. In fact, parents need to learn if they are going to keep track of what their children are doing with the phone. There are parental controls to learn how to use, monitoring software and apps to explore. And, if you want to find new ways to have conversations with your teen, you need to learn to speak in 140 characters or less!
It was a great conversation and, the recap video of which can be found here, on the U.S. Cellular Press Room site. (I’m actually thrilled that my contribution to the conversation is on here as well, at about 1 minute 30 seconds in.)