Teaching Kids Common Sense
I am still sitting here having trouble believing this is even an issue. For the last several weeks, my 10 year old son kept asking, "Mom can I take my iPod ($200) to school for reward day?" (Yes, he earned the money he used to buy it himself.)
I kept thinking that he must have misunderstood the teacher and I said "We will wait until we hear from your teacher".
We got a permission slip from school Friday saying that the kids can bring any portable electronic device to school as a reward for getting high scores on the state assessment tests, including laptops!
I am just shaking my head thinking "you’ve got to be kidding me!" What kind of people let kids bring $200 + electronics to school?
I went and talked to the teacher to ask if there were alternative "rewards" for the kids if the parent won’t allow expensive electronics to be brought to school. She said that the kids can bring a board game or something like that.
I asked, "Am I the only parent who has a problem with kids bringing a $200 iPod to school?"
She said, "Well, I do have a large stack of signed permission slips."
I said, "You’ve got to be kidding me!"
She said, "The kids got to vote on their choice of rewards and they voted on the electronic devices."
Why was it even an option?!!!!
Then she said "This does prepare to start being responsible for things in middle school, since they will be taking things like ipods and cell phones."
Ok, I am sorry but is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard!
Now we have to teach our kids that not all "rewards" that teachers choose are responsible choices and to help them choose proper rewards.
We talked to our son and told him that just because the teacher thinks this is ok doesn’t mean it’s a smart thing to do. We asked him if it was worth losing $200 for the opportunity of playing with it 45 minutes at school? He said "no." I hope that helps him put it into perspective.
My whole point in this, other than venting, is to tell you if you have young kids start teaching them now. When these things come up, teach your children how to deal with these things and how to make the right choices. In two years when he is in middle school he will know that a cell phone will not be appropriate even if everyone else has one.
BTW, we did say we would try and think of another reward for him. He asked, "Can I have a donut from Dillons (our local Kroger store)?" We said sure! A .40 donut is much better than a broken or stolen $200 ipod!
So… Would you let your kid take a $200 ipod to school?
PS. This was written a couple of years ago. BJ is now in middle school and doesn’t even care that he is almost the only one who doesn’t bring a cell phone or other electronic devices to school. He is appalled that the kids are willing to chance losing them and can’t even figure out why they think they need one.
Mike’s Two Cents: I just had to weigh in on this one. I think we do our kids a disservice when we give them phones and other expensive objects that "everybody" just has to have. When we do that, what we’re teaching them is that since everybody else is doing it, they should do it, too. This is contrary to what we tell them about peer pressure and inconsistency confuses kids. Also, spending a lot of time with portable electronics, especially smart phones and Internet connected iPods teaches kids how to be good consumers/buyers but doesn’t teach them how to do anything constructive.
Part of teaching financial responsibility is teaching your kids that they don’t have to have every cool item that comes along. It’s good for them to hear "no" sometimes. Our rule is that if the kids want something like the iPod, they have to make the money themselves and buy it from their money. They are much more careful deciding how to spend the money when they have to generate it themselves. This doesn’t mean that we allow them to buy anything if they have the money, either. Some electronics, like phones, are items we have told them we will not allow as long as they live with us. Our view is that as parents we should do everything we can to protect them while we’re responsible for them and to teach them how to make responsible decisions when they’re on their own.
Smart phones just allow too much access to harmful things that parents can’t protect against. I heard a dad at the YMCA the other day telling another dad that he pays for his 14 year old daughter’s iPhone but she won’t let him see what she’s doing with it, who she’s in communication with or what she’s looking at on the Internet. Who is the parent here? I can’t think of a clearer indication that something is amiss then when dad isn’t allowed to see her phone (that he’s paying for, no less). I’d bet that later, if she gets into serious trouble, he’ll be surprised that it could happen…
photo by: mukluk