,The moment your tween wants a cell phone… is it a moment of dread? In our house the cell phone has mixed feelings. Yes, it’s great to be able to have contact and get a hold of your child, especially in a blended family when you don’t see them daily. But– there is also all the headaches that go with a child owning their own phone.
Avery’s cell phone brings mixed feelings to our house. What features is she responsible enough to have? What limitations does she need? Finally, whose responsibility is the care and payment of this phone?
We have tried a few different approaches and I thought I would save you the headache by sharing the approach that has been working best for us.
The Cell Phone Contract
The best idea was creating a cell phone contract which she and her father signed. It hangs on the fridge as a reminder and reference point. This year as a middle schooler, it’s a useful document and we have referenced it many times.
Some of the big pointers on the contract:
- Teaching phone etiquette. In the 21st Century, many people could benefit from this lesson. We want our children to still value human interaction over electronics. This means there are points in the contract about having the phone away during family interaction times (i.e dinner time).
- Responsible use of a cell phone. In today’s world you hear too often stories about teens and phones. These stories always revolve around trouble. In our house we start with trust until that is violated. Therefore our contract includes points that touch on appropriate cell phone use and our parental right to check that this happens.
- A phone is a privilege for working people. There is no cell phone fairy. A phone is a perfectly acceptable want, however, it is not a need. Too many people today, including kids, think it’s something they deserve. In our house, we want to continue to teach that you have to work for your things.
- We tried having Avery work around the house to earn money for this. However, she didn’t have the initiative to approach us about work and often would come up short at the end of the month. What works best for us is a list of pre-determined chores that needs to be completed each month. She chooses when she does them, but the expectation is that they MUST be completed or else the phone will be taken away.
- With working for your phone, if something happens to the phone, the phone bill still comes. This is true of our chores for the phone. For example, Avery broke her phone early in the summer. Because this was due to her negligence (she threw it at a wall in frustration), she was responsible for finding a way to replace it AND also completing the chores that “paid” the monthly bill. She had to go out and find a babysitting job and earn back the money. Hopefully these lessons will make her appreciate her phone and also think before she ruins it again.
I have included a link to the contact and chore sheet below. It is in Word so that you may edit it to fit your family! Enjoy! Hopefully it will save you some headaches and cell phone strain!