Contract or No Contract?

How to decide when to give your child a cell phone

Handing your kids a phone of their own is a big deal. You’re granting them access to nearly everything in the world – the best and the worst. A phone can be helpful in many ways and can be harmful in many other ways.

My recommendation is to hold your children off from getting a phone of their own as LONG as possible. The older and more mature they are before getting a device, the wiser they will be with their words and actions.

What your child posts online may be more permanent than their permanent record. What they watch online may have a permanent impact.

5 questions to discuss before giving a child a phone:

  1. What you post is public, even when you may think it’s private. It can be permanent. What are some examples of this?
  2. Have you seen people say something online that they would not say to someone’s face? Why do you think that happens?

  1. How are in-person relationships affected by devices for good or bad?
  • Examples for good: Connecting with family or friends who are far away.
  • Examples for bad: bullying or spending too much time on your phone and less time face-to-face
  1. Who do you/would you like to follow online?
  2. What rules do you think we need to put in place to keep you safe and monitor your time online?

Here is a cell phone contract to review and sign together. Click here to download the PDF.

Let your kids know from the beginning that you will be checking their phone periodically. This builds some accountability and may help them think twice about what they do on their phone. My son has received texts that I’m so glad I saw. It has led to several teachable moments.

Also, I recommend your child charge their phone anywhere but their bedroom overnight.

A middle school teacher, Heidi Pitzenberg told me: “If I could make a rule for all kids with phones, it would be to keep it out of their bedrooms at night. Kids are sleep-deprived because they’re on their phones past midnight on school nights and parents have no idea it’s happening.”

What are your thoughts about children and cell phone use? Are there resources you use that help you navigate this new world?

Kathryn Egly

Kathryn Egly is a wife, mom, and author. Residing in the beautiful state of Minnesota, she is a part-time teacher, and full-time referee to her four busy boys. When she’s not mediating epic battles over the last cookie, you can find her fueling up on her two secret weapons: coffee and Jesus. Kathryn’s faith, love for others, and her unwavering commitment to her family inspire her writing. With a touch of humor and a whole lot of heart, she shares her experiences through the written word, aiming to connect, uplift, and remind us all that we’re not alone in this wild ride called life.

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