The other day, a friend of my 11-year-old daughter called the house to make arrangements to get together for a group project.

Recently, my nephew, age 12, received a letter in the mail. It was addressed to him personally, by name. Inside was a photocopied article about the powers of a new virility medicine, complete with the usual graphic promises for pleasuring the ladies. The article mentioned a specific “doctor” by name, but other than that, there was no contact information or order form or any other action request. It appeared to just be spam but in paper form.

I work from home, and I think that means my kids get more sick days than the average student. It’s pretty easy for them to convince me that they need a day of rest if they have a bit of a cough or a slight fever. I admit I’m probably too easily swayed and I do tend to cave in when they look up at me with big sad eyes from where they have swooned onto the couch.

My three kids all know the password to my phone.

It’s because I rely on them to play secretary for me when I’m driving. If the phone rings or there is a bing of a text, 99% of the time it’s a member of my immediate family trying to get in touch with something relatively pressing.

My teens are still young and new to social media, so until now, we’ve mostly been focusing on the risks. Our main message to them has been to be careful, and that less time online is always better.

We are Netflix subscribers, and that means we’re no strangers to the Binge Watch. It’s just so easy to curl up on the couch, especially on a rainy day or a sick day, and plug into a show. Each episode plays automatically, one after the other; you don’t even have to move, except to occasionally confirm that you’re still watching when Netflix prompts you, every three episodes or so.

When we bought a cellphone for our son, we worried. We worried about how it would affect his brain to be hooked into social media all the time. We worried about online bullying and if he’d be respectful and responsible. We worried that he’d become a video screen monster who never looked up and only grunted in response to our questions about his day at the dinner table.

My middle daughter, age 13, read the novel The Outsiders last year. She loved it, and like any good mom who was raised in the 1980s, I bought her a DVD copy of the classic movie. She loved the film version, too.

Our son turned 15 last month, and we’ve had plenty of wary, nervous comments since then about how driving is just around the corner. Next year, he’ll be getting his beginner’s licence! Just 11 more months before he’s behind the wheel!

We have a few smartphone rules in our house: no phones after 9:30 p.m., no phones at the dinner table or other family events, and no phones in bedrooms.

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