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It’s 10pm. Where is Your Child’s Cell Phone?


In an effort to make my teenage daughter hate me (because really, what other motive could I have?). I gave Jane two options regarding her cell phone at night.

Option 1: She can leave her cell phone plugged in downstairs

Option 2: I can add back parental controls and after 10pm she will only be able to call or text me, her grandparents and 9-1-1.

There is no option 3.

We had tears and threats. I wasn’t spoken to for two solid hours. If you’ve ever met Jane you’d know how meaningful silence is. This is a child who needs to communicate to feel alive.

“It’s my phone.” She wailed, “You treat me like a child. No one else’s parents do this.”

And I was horrified. “They don’t? Well they should.”

I went on to explain to her that there were two scenarios (two is my favorite number in this discussion). The scenarios are as follows:

Scenario 1: The other kids do have to give up their cell phones at night but don’t want to talk about it because they’re embarassed.

Scenario 2: The other kids’ parents are making a mistake.

There is no scenario 3.

With a not fully developed frontal lobe teens are notoriously poor decision makers. Add a little sleepiness to the mix and there’s just no good reason to allow a cell phone into the bedroom at night. There’s the obvious nudity issue, but there’s also something a little less terrifying that leaves a big mark on their lives. Sleeplessness.

Adults who sleep with the phone by the bed suffer from sleep deprivation. Our kids hardly get enough time to sleep with school starting so early in the morning, why give up an extra hour (or more) at night?

Jane doesn’t seem to know yet that I’m chaperoning her volleyball team for five days in June. I’ve already let some of the parents know that my plan is to have all the cell phones in the adult room at night. I’m pretty sure it’ll go over like a lead balloon but unless someone else wants to take up the chaperoning baton it’s my rules.

I can’t wait to have a dozen 13 year old girls not speaking to me. I can almost imagine the silence.

19 thoughts on “It’s 10pm. Where is Your Child’s Cell Phone?”

  1. I can tell you, as an adult who had a cell phone as a teenager, nothing good happens on a cell phone after 10PM. I would have spent 25% less time grounded had I not had a cell phone to use at night. 

  2. My older kids had to give me their electronic devices at bedtime. I locked them up in a cabinet for the night. It pissed them off, but that wasn’t really my concern. First was that they get a good night’s rest. Second was that I didn’t want any late night conversation to turn into anything bad. Because moms know… NOTHING good happens between 12 and 2am.

  3. She’ll thank you later. Well, she might not, but she should. Kids don’t need to be connected 24/7. It’s just too much. When I was a kid (not that terribly long ago) if I was on the phone, it was attached to the wall and I was in public domain like the kitchen. There was no discussion of having my own phone or privacy. Privacy for a teenager leads to bad decisions an mistakes. I can’t wait until my kids are teenagers. They’re going to hate me, but they’re going to be safer than their peers.

  4. Way back during the Jurassic era when I would sneak out of my house at night to see my girlfriend I had to dress in dark clothing and knock on my girlfriend’s window.

    Texting would have made life much easier which is why my children won’t have access to their phones either.

    Ok, there are lots of other reasons too but…

  5. I guess I am out to make my children hate me, too. (Although I’m clearly also out to make me NOT hate them, because it’s very hard to love a teenaged boy who has only slept four hours.) Anyway, I use the parental controls because I got sick of the argument (and the phone “sneaking”). I am also told by my kids that *nobody* else’s parents do this, although I can personally verify that most of their friends parents do, in fact, do this. I’ve offered to call the parents of the kids who are on their phones all night, to get their perspectives on why this is OK directly from them. Somehow my boys do not want me to educate myself in this fashion…I think it’s more likely the parents are clueless than actually allowing it.

    1. You have always been one of the smartest people I know:

      ” I’ve offered to call the parents of the kids who are on their phones all night, to get their perspectives on why this is OK directly from them.”
      This is my next step.

    2. “I’ve offered to call the parents of the kdis who are on their phones all night, to get their perspectives on why this is OK directly from them.” BRILLIANT!

      Jessica, you are right to do this.  My stepson is 22.  His phone is by his head when he sleeps.  It goes off all night.  He doesn’t get enough sleep as it is, and waking up all night to check text messages makes it worse.  Wish we had thought of this when he was a teenager.  Maybe he’d have better habits now.

  6. We are mean too.  They also don’t learn that what you text in writing, even on You Tube videos, etc. is forever.  We have 8th grade and 10th grade sons on Amish lockdown till end of school.  Those are our phones.  They can only count on privacy in their beds or in the bathroom.
    Not to mention how teens can get so emotional close to a boyfriend/girlfriend that parents don’t even know about via texting and the break up hurts as bad as if they got to know each other the old fashioned way–and with the old fashioned way (face to face) they prob wouldn’t even like each other.

  7. We’ve recently (in the last couple of months) laid down the same law in our house. Except ours only had scenario 1…charge them outside of your room. There is no scenario 2.  

    Right on, Jessica. So happy to see you write about this. At the risk of sounding a little dramatic, I think kids being glued to their phones late at night is approaching epidemic status.

  8. Please tell Jane that she does have friends with the same rules. Over here it’s 8pm phones off.  They need to sleep!

  9. Same rules here.  No discussion.  We didn’t even actually give her option #2, as I’m not that technical.

  10. Absenceofalternatives

    That’s the rule in our house also. Actually, we did not even tell our 14 year old son that he’s not allowed to bring his cellphone to his room with him, he just assumed it. (We also do not allow computer/laptop in his room; it’s in the family room. We don’t believe in privacy for children either. I am sorry. You live in my house, you don’t close/lock your door. Maybe this rule is different for girls? Anyway, I digress…) My husband and I do not take/make phone calls after 9 pm. (In fact, nobody calls us at night. Come to think of it, nobody ever calls us… that may have more to do with us being asocial beings… I digress again) That might be why my son just knew the rule without being told. 

  11. Job 1, protect your children. 
    My phone (since I pay the bill) my rules.  Like it or not.  I would love to be friends with my children, but being their parent is far more important. I guess I would be considered a nice Mom, I do offer an alternative choice; ” My way or the highway,” follow the rules or loose the phone.  KIS (Keep it Simple).

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