Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman on following school rules about students' mobile phone usage.

By Rosalind Wiseman

Q. Cell phones aren't allowed in my son's school, but it's important to me that I be able to reach him. Recently he was given detention when a teacher found his phone in his backpack. What should I do?

A. You should support the school. Although cell phones have become an ordinary part of kid (and adult) culture, there is a big downside. They can be a huge distraction in the classroom. And they're often used to send and receive malicious gossip and humiliating photographs, not to mention exam answers. So what looks like an easy way to keep tabs on your child actually contributes to a hostile school environment—not a good trade-off.

If you're concerned about school security, support programs to prevent violence and bullying, including those that address the possible trouble kids face traveling to and from school. A good place to start: the Safe School Ambassadors Program at safeschoolambassadors.org or 707-823-6159.

Originally published in the January 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.