What You Should Do Before You Give Your Kids a Cellphone

posted: 08/17/17
by: Amanda Mushro

Knowing when to give your child their own cellphone is a personal choice and one that parents don't take lightly. If you are considering allowing your teen or tween to have their own phone or they have recently become the proud owner of their own cellphone, there are a few steps expert suggest you take to help lay boundaries for the use of the phone, keep you informed at all times, and keep your child safe.

Start with rules and expectations- Before handing over the new phone, sit down with your child and write out an actual contract--not just a verbal agreement. By creating a contract there are no "you should have known" situations and your child clearly understands their role and responsibility with the phone. Explain your expectations for the use of the phone, who will pay for it, what apps are allowed and not allowed on the phone, where the phone will stay at night, if your child is driving, where will they put the phone, and of course, consequences if any of the laid out rules are broken. You need to sign the contract as well as your child.

Use Parental Controls to block access to certain apps and content- From blocking adult content on YouTube, being alerted when your child downloads an app, and restricting access to apps based on their rating, you need to spend time in the settings of their phone to setup parental controls. Not sure how to do this? Common Sense Media has some great pointers.

Give a cyber civics lesson to you kids- From what is appropriate to post on social media, to sexting, cyberbullying, and how to get help if they need it, don't hand over the power of social media and the internet on their cellphone without talking to your kids about rules, expectations, and a cyber civics lesson.

You have to model good cellphone behavior- If you are texting while driving, sending emails during dinner, and keep your phone by your bedside every night, your kids will do the same. When it comes to cellphones, the "do as I say, not as I do" method won't work.

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You cannot substitute human interaction for digital interaction, make eye contact, not screen contact.