So, your teenager has been asking for a cell phone. You and your partner have been contemplating the pros and cons of phones for kids, and you’ve decided to give it a shot.
And while you’ve finally given in to their request, you know that there need to be some rules.
But what should those rules be? Should you monitor their texting and social media habits? Should you only allow them to text/call contacts that you’ve approved?
At the end of the day, how do you give them an opportunity to be independent while making sure they remain safe?
To help you answer these questions, let’s take a look at a few cell phone rules for teenagers that will help you protect them without being too overbearing.
1First Things First – Give Your Kids a Chance to Be Trusted
There’s a saying about parenting that goes something like this, “Overly strict parents raise great liars.”
While you want to protect your child with cell phone rules for teenagers, the reality is that they will find a way to work around those rules if they’re too strict.
For instance, let’s say you tell your teen that they can’t use the camera to send photos to their friends. To ensure you’re preventing its usage, you install parental controls that prevent it.
There are two problems with this approach:
1. Your child will feel as if you don’t trust them
2. They’ll find another way (such as using a third party app or social media) to take and send photos and/or videos
Your kids want the opportunity to be trusted. If you make it clear that you don’t trust them, they’re much more likely to revolt in a way that weakens your parent/child relationship and presents ongoing issues.
2No Texting/Calling If You’ve Never Met Them in Real Life
One of the biggest fears of most parents when it comes to cell phones for kids is that they’ll talk to and meet up with people they don’t know.
This can lead to a variety of potentially dangerous issues.
To prevent this, make a rule that requires that your teen is only calling/texting with people that they’ve met and know in real life. Go over the reasons for this and let them know that you’re looking out for their safety above all else.
In most cases, you can monitor this by keeping tabs on their contacts and making sure that you’re aware of each person with whom they’re communicating.
3If There’s a Problem, Let Us Know Immediately
While bullying is the most apparent problem you’re trying to prevent with this rule for your kid’s cell phone, it’s essential that you establish that they can come to you (without being scolded or judged) when ANY issue arises.
This doesn’t mean that, when they do let you know, you should simply go out and use your authority to solve the problem yourself. Instead, talk with them about how you can solve the problem together.
As an example, let’s say someone has texted something to your child that makes them feel as if they are being bullied. They tell you, and you immediately reach out to their parents with demands that they reprimand their child for their actions.
Reacting this way can often make things worse as the bully may become more relentless with their attacks (especially after being punished by their parents). This may then prevent your child from coming to you when future issues arise.
Instead of following through with the scenario above, do your best to work with your teenager to find out what’s happening to cause the issues. From there, work with them to come up with ideas on how you can fix it together.
Doing this will enhance trust and make your child much more willing to come to you when different sets of problems arise in the future.
4No Phone While Sleeping
This is one of the toughest cell phone rules for teenagers to follow through on, but it’s vital.
Researchers have proven that smartphones ruin sleep. And if your teen isn’t getting enough sleep, they’re not only going to be far less productive in school, they endanger their health.
Set a rule that they must place their phone at a designated spot outside their room before bed.
And, while it may be difficult, do your best to convince them that you’re doing it to ensure they’re getting enough sleep to be energized and productive the next day.
5No Texting & Driving
This one may seem obvious (especially since it’s against the law), but it’s important that your child understands why this is so important.
Help them understand that even a split-second of losing their focus while driving can change their life.
And, as a parent, be sure that you’re being a good role model by avoiding texting and driving yourself.
6Building Your List of Cell Phone Rules
This list of essential rules is meant to be a starting point for your own set of cell phone rules.
If you’re looking for more ideas, teen expert Josh Shipp’s The Teen Cell Phone Agreement is one that also doubles as a contract for your teen to sign.
Regardless of how you build your own set of rules, give your teen a chance to be trusted.
Your child and your relationship with them will benefit greatly from it. Good luck!