Inside:Cell Phone Rules for Tweens and Teens with Printable Cell Phone Contract
“But Mom, everybody in my class has a cell phone.”
This was often the argument my child made when begging for her own cell phone.
I would then point out many children in her class who, in fact, did not own a cell phone. I was aware of this because I knew most of their parents. If nothing else united us, it was our determination to hold out as long as possible before handing over this coveted item to our children.
Deciding if your child is ready for their first cell phone is a huge decision. It can be easy to go against our instincts when we’re feeling pressure from our kids. But if you have your doubts that they are ready, trust your gut.
If you’re on the fence, we’ve got some great criteria to consider in our post Is Your Child Ready For A Cell Phone?
However, while I’m a firm believer in holding out as long as possible, there is a point where providing our children with a cell phone of their own becomes inevitable. It’s just a part of life for this generation and you want to be able to help guide your child as they learn how to navigate this technology.
For us, the time came when my daughter was in 7th grade.
With four kids in our family, in three different schools with different bus pick-up times and different schedules for activities, it became a necessity for us to be able to reach our daughter more easily.
She had also shown through her improved accountability at home and at school that she was mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes with cell phone ownership.
But we knew, kids need boundaries, even when they push back agains them. That’s why setting cell phone rules for tweens and teens is so important.
Here was how we handled this new parenting milestone:
What’s the Best Cell Phone for Tweens and Teens
First, we had to decide what phone and plan made sense for her.
There are a variety of options for phones these days and we looked at many of them before choosing the phone and plan we did for our teenage daughter.
Think about it this way, do you plan to give your 16 year old, brand new driver a Ferrrari when they receive their license?
Why? That car has too many options and far too much power for a highly under experienced driver. It is better to provide a less glamorous, safe, steady vehicle at a more reasonable price point.
By providing the latest, greatest, most expensive phone on the market, you’re giving a Ferrari, and your child is most likely not ready for all the features if offers, nor have they shown they deserve this level of privilege.
It’s wiser to give an older, reliable phone that may lack bells and whistles but is safe and gets the job done.
Give your child the opportunity to show that they can take care of a less expensive phone first and follow the cell phone rules you set for them. Over time, they can earn their way to a more updated phone or better yet, save their own money to pay for it.
To Surf the Web or Not Surf the Web?
You will also need to decide whether or not you want your child to have internet access available from her phone.
If you are giving a phone to a child in middle school, internet access is a bad idea. There are too many temptations for an age group that is already struggling with difficult physical and emotional changes.
We chose to give our daughter a phone with the wi-fi disabled and she is unable to access the web. The privilege of even having a phone was enough for her to handle at first.
She can text and make calls, as well as listen to music, that is all.
Allowing her wi-fi was unnecessary because she has opportunities to access the internet for school work on our home computer and check her email there, where we have more supervision.
It is also one less thing for us to monitor and an opportunity to prove herself in smaller things before moving on to bigger ones.
We also required our daughter to sign an official contract with us.
This is the perfect way to ensure your expectations are clearly outlined and what the consequences will be if they’re not met.
Some of it may seem like common sense but I have learned to never assume my kids “know better”. Our contract looked like this:
Handing over a cell phone to our children IS a big deal, as much as people may want to pretend otherwise. We can have good kids that we trust, but that doesn’t always mean they are ready for total freedom.
Related: Why I Don’t Always Trust My Good Kid To Make Good Decisions
They are ours for such a short time. We hold a huge responsibility as their parents to make sure that we set them up for success as they become tweens and teens and learn the skills and accountability that comes with their approaching adulthood.
Don’t be in a hurry to get them there too fast.
Related posts about tweens, teens and technology:
Why We Need to Stop Tech Shaming Our Kids
Anything else you might add to our Cell Phone Rules for Tweens and Teens?