It’s been looming over our heads for more than a year and I know when I post this I am subjecting myself to lots of critiquing because parents get really fired up about these types of conversations, but before I get into the nitty gritty, I want to note we talked a lot about this as a family and weighed the pros/cons about getting Caroline a cell phone.
Ultimately, we decided that with her starting middle school/6th grade in a brand new environment and with lots of moving pieces to her dance + cheer schedule after school, it would be most helpful in trying to juggle transportation/carpools/etc. We’ve talked a lot about how this new cell phone is a privilege, not a guarantee= this helps ensure us as parents and our kids are on the same page.
Not to say that there is any one right or wrong answer and everyone has different views on kids with technology and cell phones, but if you are starting to think about this with your tween and/or teen, I’ve been doing lots of research on ways to ensure a smooth process and hold them accountable at the same time. I’ll chat about the items we discussed and then I’ve also included a handy dandy phone contract you can personally print out for your family to use as well:
When thinking about what I wanted to highlight as important about having a cell phone, three speicific words were mentioned over and over again…
be responsible + safe + kind
Responsible: always answering when we call her, taking care of her phone and making sure it stays charged and in working order, not changing passwords, following rules at school/church/friends’ houses, leaving her phone in the kitchen every night so it’s not in her bedroom, and most of all knowing that we have the right to check her phone at any time.
Safe: telling us if someone she doesn’t know calls and/or texts her, not downloading apps without permission, not sharing pictures of herself and/or friends, telling us if she sees anything that makes her uncomfortable, and being honest about what she is posting/sharing/texting on her phone
Kind: not being on her phone during meals/family time, only sending things she would say in front of us, will use her phone as a means of communication to be encouraging/no mean texts, be respectful when asked to put her phone away, and being present with people around her = not on her phone
I am very hopeful these simple rules will keep the phone being an exciting new device to enter our home! As with anything I am sure that things will be added + changed as we figure out this NEW season of having kiddos with phones… and yes, we also had the chat about consequences: that if she fails to adhere to the rules + regulations, the phone privileges may be revoked, if the phone gets broken, she will earn money to help pay for a replacement and of course if grades aren’t kept up, the phone goes away as well.