If I Find Out You Did It You Quit It

Momservation: Social media: where teenagers go to actually become less social.

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"Selfie" away Whit - as long as you follow my rules...

“Selfie” away Whit – as long as you follow my rules…

Big day here at the Wheeler house.

Whit gets her cast off…AND…is the last in the family to finally get an iPhone (except for the dog, but who knows where Apple will take us next).

Guess which one is the bigger event?

Better plug your ears around 2 p.m. because the phone is a surprise for after Whit gets her cast off. The scream could be for what her arm looks like under the cast after 3 weeks (we’ve done 3 of these already and it’s not pretty), but more likely it will be for the coveted phone and the social world it opens up to her.

“Social” as in sitting alone in the room with the strongest wi-fi signal taking “selfies” and posting them on Instagram then checking every few seconds to see how many “Likes” it generates.

Kids these days don’t know social. Social when I was in junior high meant the crazy characters you encountered on the bus on the way to the mall where you went with a flock of girls to look for cute boys and cute accessories (sometimes one in the same), and meeting a bunch of new people trying to bum 20 cents so you could call your mom to come get you instead of taking the bus home.

So even though Whit finally gets a smart phone, it does come with strings attached so that her world doesn’t get smaller even as she thinks it’s getting bigger.

Here is my list of 10 Simple Rules for Responsible and Mature Smart Phone Ownership for My Teenager or If I Find Out You Did It You Quit It:

1.    The phone is not to be used for inappropriate content. Yours, theirs, or by association. If you don’t know what stands for “inappropriate” use this test: If Mom was standing over my shoulder right now seeing this would I get my phone taken away? So before you go “Liking” that raunchy picture or adding your voice to a foul-mouthed commentary or forwarding anything naked, imagine life without an internet connection because you will be living it.

2.    You must answer your phone EVERY time I call or text. This, contrary to your social media belief, is why you have a phone and why I pay for its services. If you screen me or I can’t reach you within a reasonable amount of time, not only do you lose the PRIVILEGE of having a phone, I’ll just keep you home where I know where you are and what you’re doing.

3.    I take priority over your phone. If I am talking to you, your phone is away. Let it buzz, ping, vibrate, SportsCenter update, and ring-tone Radioactive to your pocket, because no matter what I have to say it is always more important. I will not compete with your phone. If I do—just like Vegas you’ll find out the house always wins and your pockets will become much lighter.

4.    No phones at the table. Meals are family time. We interact. These days, it’s where you actually learn to be social. Your friends are not invited unless they are physically present. If you can’t carry on a decent conversation with your family, then there’s no need for a phone either.

5.    Manage your time well. Or I’ll manage it for you. If your phone is taking precedence over school work, chores, extra-curricular activities, or anything else more important (which is almost everything) I will remove the temptation until you realize life goes on without it. If I start to see the top of your head more than your face that is non-stop buried in your phone the management decision will be to make you go cold-turkey on your phone addiction.

6.    Make smart purchases. Every song, app, and download you purchase will go through my iTunes account and I will see it. You will use your own gift cards and not my credit card on file. If you exceed your limit, you will pay me back and if you can’t control excessive and frivolous uploads I will control it for you by changing the password. Consider this a public service for helping you become a smart consumer.

7.    Make smart choices. The internet is forever. Everyone can see it. What you put out there and what you do on it leaves a footprint that can’t be erased. So if you think you’re hiding behind SnapChat, erased texts, and deleted content—trust me, it still leaves a trail. Don’t doubt that someone, somewhere has seen it, screen captured it, or still has it on their end. Don’t make a bad choice that can haunt you forever. You get one mistake to learn from with me. Lesson not learned, phone no longer yours.

8.    I get all-access privileges. I reserve the right at any time to go through your phone and all its content. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. If you are deleting selective content and texts I’ll think you’re hiding something which is a problem. If I find something disturbing we’re going to have a problem. If you’re fighting me on this it’s a problem. No phone solves the problem.

9.    Cyber-bullying is zero tolerance. Using your smart phone as a weapon to hurt someone will not be tolerated. If I find out you used your phone for evil instead of good YOU WILL NEVER OWN A PHONE AGAIN UNTIL YOU ARE AN ADULT and YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN HAVE UNSUPERVISED INTERNET ACCESS.

10. Using your smart phone while driving is zero tolerance. There is nothing so important on that phone that it is worth your life. If you put your life or anyone else’s at risk because of your phone you will lose the privilege of driving, the privilege of a phone, and the privilege of my trust.

Other than that…have fun with your new iPhone Whit! 



  1. Sean Jones says:

    I think this type of micro-management of a child/teen is excessive and needlessly invasive. Phones are how recent generations communicate. Imagine if your mother had been looming over your shoulder for every interaction you ever had with your peers.

    Kids need the freedom to f**k up. It is a vital part of human development.

    • kellimwheeler says:

      I can see your point, Sean. I do try to imagine what this would have been like for me as a teen. But that’s just it – the rules have totally changed. Supervision doesn’t look like it did 30 years ago (i.e. picking up the other end of the phone line to listen in on a conversation). Now days We can mess up our lives in the blink of a bad online decision. I’m just trying to get a 12 year-old to think twice before doing that. I’m sure there will be plenty of other opportunities for her to have regrets and learn from it.
      Thanks for joining the discussion. Enjoy the journey.

  2. Roy says:

    Monitor and control every move your children make and see just how much they let you in to their lives when they grow up. They’ll want very little to do with you. Strong family relationships are not built on dictatorships. That’s how bridges are burned.

    • kellimwheeler says:

      I don’t feel like I’m controlling – it’s monitoring and supervision. It’s setting parameters and expectations. It’s being a hands on parent. It’s being a parent trying to show what common sense should look like until kids’ undeveloped common sense kicks in. I don’t have kids who are pushing back and rebelling – we are building mutual respect. I’m not sure what you’re seeing, Roy…but thanks for your thoughts anyway.

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