After years of begging, cajoling and bargaining, the long nightmare is finally over: your tween is no longer "the only person on the planet who does not have a smartphone." Now that your delighted kiddo is gleefully clutching an expensive device in his or her hot little hands, it’s important to make sure it is used in a responsible way. To help ensure that this happens — at least most of the time — you may want to create a cellphone contract.
The Benefits of a Contract
Giving your tween or teen a cellphone for the first time is an unspoken invitation into a more independent and grown up world. While it’s kind of unnerving to think of your child as having access to the entire world of the Internet, it’s important to remember that your kiddo is almost always a terrific young person who is responsible and capable of making good decisions. A smartphone contract can help your kiddo understand that his or her fancy new toy, like most other privileges in life, is not a given right, but rather something that he or she must take seriously. With this in mind, check out these tips for creating a contract:
What to Include
If you Google “teenage cellphone contracts” you will find a bunch of PDFs that you can download and print out. While this is a reasonable option, it might work better to create your own personalized contract that takes your teen’s personality into account. The pledge can include things like “I will not touch or look at my phone when it’s dangerous to do so, including when I’m walking, biking or driving.” You might also want to add in a clause about how the cellphone will not be in reach of your teen when he or she is driving, and that it must be kept in the back seat in a purse or backpack.
The contract can also include guidelines about the importance of replying to texts or calls from mom and dad. It is perfectly reasonable to expect your teen to reply in a reasonable amount of time to a check-in text. To make sure that your teen can’t use the “but my battery died!” excuse, buy your kiddo a smartphone that has a long battery life. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 can power up to 28 hours of talk time and 12 days of standby time.
Since most teens adore apps, the contract can also address the importance of purchasing apps from legit app stores, and that when the phone is used to take photos, they will be appropriate and will not be used in any way to embarrass or humiliate another person.
Add in a Parental Clause
While it’s not necessary to add in a section of cellphone rules for parents, doing so will show your teen or tween that you are not taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to the situation. The parent pledge, which you also sign, can include a similar promise to never text and drive, to be a good role model for proper cellphone use and to refrain from using your phone when it might bother the people around you.