Should parents give kids a digital allowance? Rock, Paper, Phone!
Dear Ms. Smartphone: My children, ages 5 and 10 each get a weekly allowance for doing chores. The ten year old got a phone this year and asked me to put his amount, $10.00 per week, on a Venmo account. What do you think? Jaycee, Quincy
Dear Jaycee: That’s an interesting question. For readers who don’t know, Venmo is a popular app, one of many, that securely transfers digital payments between people, in lieu of paper money.
Your children will grow up in a world where digital payments will become the standard. But for now, I have two reservations about the digital allowance.
Should I secretly install a device that can track my teen’s distracted driving?
Dear Ms. Smartphone: My car insurance offered me a “black box” to install in the car. It will report things like the speed, sudden braking, and whether I am using the phone. My teen shares this car with me. She seems to be a good driver and I wonder if I need to tell her about the box. Adrian, Boston
Dear Adrian: Readers may disagree but I think you should tell your teen. I would also use the tracking device in a more active way. When these reporting devices are installed in vehicles claim rates go down. And, real-time feedback helps drivers learn to drive better. It is important, at any age, to take steps against distracted driving. Here is a serious article with a funny ending- the founder of a company that provides these devices getting rear-ended at a red light!
Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am a stay-at-home Mom and drive a carpool for my son and two girls, grades 8 and 9. They all take out their phones as soon as they get in my car. I try to ask them questions about school or find songs on the radio they might like. That doesn’t work. Their lack of talk makes makes me feel very sad and I am coming to dislike doing the carpool. Leslie, Strawberry
Dear Leslie: The situation you describe is probably felt by Moms and Dads everywhere…even if they wish for carpool karaoke! ‘Digital etiquette’ may not be something you can teach other people’s children, but start where you can. Have your son sit up front and ask him to put away his phone. If you know the other parents gently probe their own feelings about this. It’s a no-win situation: teens could be checking their assignments, looking at social media, or even texting each other about the Mom driving the car!