It is my great pleasure to call the Richardson family my friends. Dad Tim Richardson is a gifted motivational speaker who has worn many hats (and shared the comedy stage with yours truly, eh? I notice that is not on your bio, Tim. Well played, sir.).
Tim is only half of the Richardson team, however! His wife, Adele, is one of the sweetest ladies on the planet and these wonderful, caring people are raising their lovely brood in my neck o' the woods. I'd list all their children but it would break one of my personal rules about broadcasting kids' names online, so lets just call them #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and what was the last one...oh, yeah, #6. I'm a huge fan of #2 (a former student of moi).
Recently, the Richardsons sent me an email with this request:
"With a new school year starting, we are reviewing guidelines for teen computer and cell phone use and wanted to get some input from other parents. What guidelines do you have regarding computer and cell phone use, texting, hours available, etc. Adele and I would appreciate any thoughts you might have."
After I sent my opinion, worth every cent anyone pays for it (zero), Tim added:
"You made us all laugh and helped us have a conversation about some potentially sensitive subjects. If you haven't already written a blog post about your tec rules, you really should."
Tim and Adele, you're too kind. Your wish is my command.
The Cherdo Rules for Tech & Teens
1. Cellphones are a privilege for mature teens. When appreciation of the privilege or maturity exits, so do cellphones.
2. An online presence requires vigilance from the get-go. If you allow a child to have a Facebook or social media account, it includes the condition that you have passwords and "friend" status. When you're online, nothing is private -- so why would it be private in regard to your parents? You know...the legal guardians responsible for your care, misdeeds and bail?
3. No "befriending" of strangers on line, period; you just don't know who or what they are about. Want to debate this? Wait a minute, I think I see maturity exiting...go back to rule #1.
4. Your online self may NEVER go away. Grandma, employers, people who are considering you for internships, etc., will look at it. Post accordingly.
5. Intentionally insult or demean someone, however much you feel they deserve it, and we're back to #1.
6. Computers can be a study tool; if you're using it as a tool, great. If you're just surfing and gaming, that's another deal. Limit use to an hour or so for fluff. And fluff always comes after study, chores, etc. You know...life.
7. "It's my laptop (or cellphone or tablet), so why does it matter to YOU how much I use it?" Oh...that is so darling. It's my toilet, refrigerator, garage and car insurance policy. This is fun. Want to play some more? Tag, you're it. Go back to #1.
8. Cellphones and computers off an hour before bedtime.
9. No cellphones at the table or in the presence of guests.
10. Cellphones at church are muted and put away.
11. No online orders without parents. The first time you get your monthly delivery of Princess Diana remembrance coins, you'll understand this one. Ditto for the Cake of the Month Club, just $49.99 per cake.
12. Ask before you become a "member" of anything. Websites love to try and reel kids in.
13. Grades go down, electronics time goes down. Don't be fulled by the "I need to research" plea. The library is awesome.
14. Watch for plagiarism. I always told the kids you can cut and paste your way to #1, too.
15. Never, ever do live-time posts. For example, the kid who posts a picture of the family at the beach with "we just saw a live dolphin!" Cool. I know you all are not at home. "Let's see if I can clear that house out before you return," said the local burglar. Post those vacation pictures when you get home.
I've got only one suggested parent guideline: if you don't want to monitor electronics, don't even let the kids have them. It's a different world out there and there's more to consider than the black hole of wasted time.
Remember that overuse is not the only problem associated with electronics and cell phones. How about obesity, sleep problems, aggressive behavior, educational problems, and downloaded viruses? Strangers attack kids for comments all the time, even if they are careful. Unfortunately, that is a lesson they will learn, too. Actually, that last one is very much like the real world; everyone has a chip on their shoulder lately.
Academically, too many kids are not thinking; they're Googling. Huge problem. Heavy computer use kills creativity. It doesn't hurt to keep all the electronics out of their rooms (televisions, I'm talking to you...).
Kids can have a whole lot of fun with their devices and never stray from these guidelines. I've road tested it.
More about Tim Richardson:
A little bit from his website:
Tim Richardson has been a full time professional speaker since 1988. He has also owned two other businesses and been the host of a radio talk show interviewing authors, business owners, and community leaders.
Tim is author of co-author of and contributing author to He's currently working on his a new book titled Live Rich in a World Consumed with Cash, Career, and Conquest. He has been interviewed on regional and national TV and radio programs and writes articles for national publications.
If you're planning a retreat or seminar with the goal of advancing your business or career, check out Tim Richardson's website for more information. Bring Tim's wit and wisdom to your team: www.timrichardson.com