Teenager Smartphone Agreement

 

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Caleb, my twelve year old son, wants a smartphone.  Last week, I spent an hour talking to him about why he wants a smart phone and also about my concerns.  It was a long negotiation about what we both want and how we can both get what we want.  At the end of the day, he feels like his peers are getting phones and he would also like one.  I am concerned because I have seen smartphones suck the life out of our youth.  They can be addictive distractions that keep our young people from learning value skills, showing social courtesy to people, and pursue worthwhile endeavors.  I see it in the malls, in restaurants, at church, at school.  Disengaged teenagers (and adults) absorbed and distracted by their phone.  I am also aware of the vast number of young men and husbands addicted to pornography because of the ease of accessibility that a smart phone offers.

The conclusion of our conversation was that he will get a smart phone.  But, we will have a teenager smartphone agreement.  We will have some expectations of him, and as long as he is fulfilling those expectations, there is no problem.    We will meet after a month and discuss how things are going.  Then, we will meet after 3 months and discuss again.  The fact is, he will eventually have to learn to use technology responsibly at some point.  Our responsibility as parents is to do what we can to give guidance in the transition.

I spent an evening writing down my thoughts and expectations in a list.  We got a phone for him, and as we handed it over, we went over each point in the list, discussed, and came to an agreement.  We use a service called Accountable2You that monitors every website visited, application used, and time spent.  (I am not affiliated with this company other than that I am a customer.)  We have an appointment to discuss in a month and we’ll see where we are at.

Here is our list of expectations. 

Teenager Smartphone Agreement

  • Less than 10 hours of web browsing per week.  Exception for school work. 
  • Less than 20 YouTube videos per week for entertainment.  School related or educational subjects are exceptions.   Educational subjects should be agreed upon beforehand.
  • No games on the phone.
  • No games on the laptop.  (We have an Xbox, tablet, and a dedicated computer for gaming which happens on Friday nights.)
  • Phone should be put away and charging at 8:15pm.
  • Productivity apps are OK to install.  No need to ask.
  • Entertainment apps are not OK.   Exceptions should be discussed.
  • Phone should never be a distraction at church including boy scouts.  It should only be out for scriptures/church content, taking relevant notes, or scheduling.
  • Listening to music is OK.  Will check content periodically.  You should avoid music with cursing or inappropriate content.
  • Piano should be practiced at least 5 days per week.
  • Should be socially engaged with people. Should always politely greet people and say goodbye.  Should never ignore people because you are absorbed in electronics. 
  • Should stay for dinner and provide engaging conversation.  Should never leave the dinner table early to entertain yourself on electronics.
  • Grades should be straight As.  
  • Should treat your brother (and all family members) with kindness, even if you feel they are not being nice or fair. 
  • Should always be grateful for all you have.  Even when things are taken away temporarily.
  • Should help out with household chores without complaint or snide remarks.  Bonus for great attitude.  Double bonus for offering to help.
  • Talk to your friends and acquaintances by phone as much as you can.  Become a great conversationalist.
  • Text with friends as much as you want.  But all texts are subject to review.   No deleting texts.  We want to discuss topics that may be interesting or controversial.
  • Do good things on your phone.  Everyday if possible.  Read the scriptures.  Listen to a church talk.  Send someone an encouraging message.   Record a journal entry.
  • All electronics in our home are public devices for everyone.   Nothing on any of them are private with the exception of confidential business or church material.   Do not try to hide any activity or do anything in secret on any electronic device.  All activity on all devices are monitored and reported on. 
  • The overall goal is for you to continue to grow up as an outstanding man who is continuing to develop valuable skills, gives of your time to worthy endeavors, and is kind and courteous to all around you.  If ever there is a concern that develops because of the use of electronic devices, we will discuss openly and try to address those concerns which may involve new guidelines.  This is a living document that will change over time.
  • We will review these policies at a regular frequency.  As you use electronics responsibly, the reviews will become less frequent.  We will discuss any areas of concerns and work out a remediation plan that we can both agree to.
  • Like anything else, the expectation is not perfection.  But we do expect you to try and improve with a good attitude.

 

As I was telling my sister about this big milestone in our family life, she told me that this is actually a common thing.  Her boss just gave a smartphone to their 10 year son and also put together a smartphone agreement.  Here is a screenshot of their agreement.  I thought it was very good and incorporated some items into our agreement. 

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2016 Hyun Family Christmas Letter

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Christmas Greetings! Another year has gone by, and we hope it has been a great one for you. It has been a busy one for the Hyun Family, and we wanted to share a few highlights of our year with you.

As is to be expected, our boys are growing and changing. Caleb is 12 years old for goodness sake! He got contact lenses and braces and is starting to become opinionated! He was quite passionate during election season this year and openly spewed his distaste for Trump’s antics. In the end, he is learning to accept the election results like the rest of the West Coasters. At church, he has received the Aaronic Priesthood and has gone on his first youth temple trip. He started middle school at Annie Wright and loves it. He ran for middle school student council as a class representative and was all ready for a hard campaign with a strategy to try and win the girl vote. But in the end, all the other candidates dropped out except for one other girl, so they were both automatically elected as the 6th grade representatives. He also learned to play the ukulele at school and recently played and sang a song in front of the entire Middle School. We are told by his advisor that he is also quite a dancer, but have yet to see his moves at home. Hopefully, he is picking up dance moves from mom (not dad). He played on the varsity soccer team at school as a defensive starter, and he’s the pianist for the middle school band. He can’t wait for Ultimate Frisbee to start in the Spring. Needless to say, he has catapulted himself into the middle school scene and is loving every minute of it.

Andrew was baptized in January. This year, Andrew started cub scouts, played on a basketball team, went to a golf camp, and played soccer. He is still quite a lady’s man and will gravitate to wherever the 3rd grade girls are. He is still the flavor of our family, and the flavor keeps getting stronger. Most of the time, the flavor is great and makes us smile and laugh. But sometimes, the flavor will invoke a lecture about proper behavior. When we were visiting our friend this year, Tom Mangle had prepared a Baby Back Rib dinner for us. Tom asked Andrew if he likes baby back ribs. Andrew answered that he likes Filet Mignon. This resulted in a lecture from dad about graciously eating whatever the host is providing. But, Tom cooked him up some Filet Mignon, and Don’s not sure if his lecture really sank in as Andrew gobbled up his Filet. With that said, Andrew is such a sweet kid. He is always writing love notes for family members and friends, and he gives the best hugs. He loves to have fun and enjoys life. He is a friend to all, and his smile is contagious.

Both of the boys have stopped formal piano lessons, and Don started teaching them at home to play popular music. We gave 3 family concerts this year, and we are like the Beatles of the Federal Way Assisted Living Home scene. Andrew has become an avid Michael Jackson fan and loves to play Michael Jackson music on the piano. At one of the assisted living homes, the residents started calling him Michael Jackson and requested that he learn the moonwalk for next time. If you’re interested, you can find Andrew playing the piano on Youtube. (He’s the first video if you search “Andrew eye of the tiger”). He is working on the moonwalk. Hopefully, we will be able to post a video of that soon.
Don and the boys have been all about robotics this year. Don ran a robotics club at church and taught a bunch of kids (and their dads) how to build a sumobot using a 3d printer, raspberry pi, and other electronics. The class culminated with a very exciting sumobot tournament where the robots competed against each other, trying to force their opponent outside of the circle. This is just step 1 in a multi-year plan of eventually trying to build an autonomous robot sailboat and sail it to Hawaii. As step 2, Caleb and Don both passed tests to receive their Amateur Radio License. As step 3, Caleb went to a sailing camp this summer. If you want to help build a robot sailboat (and most importantly travel to Maui to wait for it to arrive), just let us know.

We also went to Boston to go watch the famous 2.007 robot contest. The contest had an American Revolutionary War theme which was perfect because we also walked around the city on the Freedom Trail visiting Revolutionary War historic sites. While roaming around the halls at MIT, we got invited to see a bunch of Japanese students present their robots that competed in a reality TV robot competition. The boys even got to drive the robots. Then, we followed them into the biomimetic lab where we got to see a running demo of the MIT robot cheetah. Unfortunately, there were no robot antelopes around, so we didn’t get to see a kill.
Lastly, Don coached an FLL Lego Robotics team in the fall. Caleb and 5 other kids spent several hours every Thursday night for 3 months building and programming lego robots. Seconds before the team’s last run at the regional competition, our team was told that we had too many motors, and the referee took one of the motors. Without the motor plugged in, our robot was immobile! But, as the competition started, Caleb and the other boys quickly figured out a way to reconfigure the robot to still make it run. They ended up scoring enough points on that run to get first place out of 32 teams! It’s on to the semi-finals in January! Andrew was the special coach’s assistant and likes to take all the credit for the win. He’s looking forward to his own JrFLL team that mom has agreed to coach the beginning of next year.

In March, Don was called as Bishop of our local LDS congregation (Redondo Ward). It has been a big adjustment for the whole family as we’ve tried to figure out how to handle the time commitment. However, it has been a special blessing for our family to be involved in so many people’s lives. It has been amazing to have a front row seat to see the miracles and angels in our ward. Don is constantly inspired by the wonderful and faithful members of our congregation and their diligent service. There have been so many stories (big and small) of how God cares for each one of his children.

Tenille stays busy with homeschooling Andrew part-time in the mornings, (striving to) walk on the treadmill each day, being the PTSA treasurer at Andrew’s school, and always looking for ways to maximize our travel rewards so our family can enjoy vacations on the cheap. You could say she has a part-time job as our family’s travel agent with all the time she spends planning. A travel highlight for her this year was swimming with the stingrays near Grand Cayman Island when she joined her parents and siblings on a cruise. Don and the boys had to fend for themselves for a week. Thankfully, Don’s mom stepped in to help with running the show…..just one of the many benefits of living with mom.

Being a Bishop’s wife has forced Tenille to step out of her comfort zone. She made a goal to have every family in the ward over to our house for dinner. This results in the boys asking each Sunday, “Who’s coming over tonight?” She has gotten pretty bold and likes to try out new recipes when she invites guests. So far, no disasters…. yet. We have had the chance to have dinner with almost half of the congregation since March, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know the members of our ward and call them our friends.

Tenille is turning the big 4-0 in December this year. (Yikes!) We are celebrating by going to Las Vegas and watching the Beatles Love and Michael Jackson One Cirque du Soleil shows……all using travel reward points of course (with the exception of the MJ One show tickets). It’ll be worth paying hard cash for that show, though, if it helps Andrew get his moonwalk on.

We hope your year has been full of many blessings and that we will be able to share some time and laughs with you in the upcoming year ahead. We hope you are feeling the joy and the special spirit of the Christmas Season when we celebrate the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, who was given to us in a humble stable so that He may save us. Merry Christmas, and may your New Year be full of joy and light!

With Love, The Hyun Family – Don, Tenille, Caleb (12), and Andrew (8)