Times are changing. When I was in middle school, my mom gave me a roll of quarters to keep in my locker so I could call home on the payphone. There was a list of rules about that roll of quarters. I knew I was not allowed to use it for the vending machines and I was allowed to give them to a friend, but ONLY so they could call their parents.
Nowadays, there is a lot more on the line than a $10 roll of quarters at the bottom of a locker. We are entrusting our kids with expensive devices that basically function as windows to the world. I have compiled the contracts we made up for our kids and the guidelines we regularly go over to make sure we are all on the same page. It has made jumping into the world of cellphones a lot easier. Download the free printables at the end of this post.
Cell Phone Guidelines
We have two huge guidelines for cell phones in our house that I keep posted on my wall.
- Your Cellphone is a privilege, not a right.
- I will follow all the rules about cellphones at school and church or I will lose it at home.
I often tell my kids that their cellphone is actually for me. They have it so I can call them and get a hold of them, the fact that they can call me is just a bonus. While those two guidelines are our biggest focus, we also make each of our kids sign a contract to be able to use their phones. This includes more of the details that they are expected to follow to keep their phones.
Cell Phone Contract:
These are the items included in our Cell Phone Contract. (You can print your own at the end of the post)
- I will turn off my screen when I am told.
- I am responsible for keeping my phone charged.
- If mom or dad text or call me, I will answer.
- If by chance I miss their call, I will return it right away.
- I will turn in my phone every night at 9 PM
- I will finish my homework before using my phone to socialize or play games.
- I will give my phone to my parents when asked, for any reason.
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As soon as your child gets a phone, the issue of social media is going to come up. It is right at their fingertips and they want to use it. For social media, we make our kids sign a separate contract. We use the THINK principle and it has worked really well for us. Before you post anything THINK.
T- Is it true? (Do they know what they are posting is accurate?)
H- Is it helpful?
I- Is it inspiring?
N- Is it necessary?
K- Is it kind?
Kind if a huge one for us. We tell our child that if they wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, they shouldn’t say it online.
Another concept you might want to discuss with your kids is posting or commenting on political or religious posts. We always say they are free to post on them but be aware that things can get particularly heated and mean on those types of posts and it might just be easier to stay away from them.
Social Media Contract:
The things included on our social media contract are: (You can print your own copy at the end of this post.)
- I will not chat with anyone I don’t know in REAL life. (This one is HUGE for me. If they break this rule, they will lose all of their accounts, no questions asked)
- I will keep my profile private.
- If I wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, I won’t say it online.
- I will allow my parents to know my passwords.
We have our kid’s passwords on a little sheet of paper. It has helped them out more than once when they can’t remember their own passwords, but mostly it is so I can check on them if I need to. I don’t usually, but knowing that I can I think helps keeps things running smooth.
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One conversation you want to make sure you have with your child when they get their first phone is about scam callers. While it may be easier for you to discern what is factual and what is a scam, it is probably a lot harder for your teen because they haven’t heard of a lot of these scams before. Make sure to sit down and talk about scammers, the typical stories and things they use to scare people, so they can be prepared as they face them in the future. Scam calls cost American millions every year and according to First Orion, nearly half of all mobile calls that will be made this year will be robocalls. That is a lot of opportunities for your child to fall victim.
Scam Call Scenarios to mention:
While your teen is unlikely to fall victim to an IRS or Medicare scam here are a few that they would be susceptible to.
- Tech Support- The scammer poses as tech support from a well-known company and walks you through how to fix a problem on your computer or device… actually creating the problem.
- Winner- The scammer tells the victim they have won something and needs personal information to make the money or prize transfer.
- The family is in trouble- a family member is suffering and needs help. The best solution for this is to hang up and call another known family member to verify.
When in doubt, tell your teen to ask mom and dad before proceeding with any action.
If you are with T-Mobile, the company themselves offers quite a bit of protection when it comes to scam callers including:
- Scam ID: This will alert your teen on their screen when an incoming call is likely a scam. Telling them “Scam Likely”. I tell my family, just automatically reject these calls.
- Scam block: When you enable Scam Block on T- Mobile, the company will block scam calls before they even get to your phone.
- Name ID: With this app, you can see all the calls that Scam Block is stopping and block and unblock numbers.
As of July 2019, T-mobile’s technology has blocked 3.5 billion scam calls and warned customers of 15 billion scam likely calls. T-Mobile gives customers free scam warnings with no opt-in, no subscription and no app required with Scam ID.
Have you talked about scam calls with your kids?
This post is sponsored by T-Mobile.
I think the contract is important. I especially love that you put an emphasis on kindness. That is something people sometimes forget when they are online.
Ooooooo Percy go kiddos ready for their first cellphones!!!! It’s so crazy to me that kids even have phones lol… just a few more years and my daughter will probably be begging for one
Great tips for young teens with a phone! I love that you included something about kindness. Kids are so much sometimes and it’s awful to hear about how unkind kids are in digital spaces.