Phones for Kids – Considerations for Wise & Worried Parents

Phones for Kids – 6 Thoughts before you buy…

  1. Is your kid responsible enough for a $700 piece of technology?  Do you trust them to take care of the phone, adequately protect it, and to not lose it?  Would you let them walk around with $700 cash in their pocket?  Today, most smartphones cost more than laptop.
  2. Are you comfortable with your kid having almost unrestricted access to adult information, including death, crude humor, vulgarity, drug content, nudity, and pornography?  Is your child screen-shot-2013-03-10-at-9-01-08-pmready for the adult content found throughout the internet, and growing daily?  Would you be comfortable purchasing them an unlimited porn subscription?  A smartphone essentially does that.  Here’s a good review of parental monitoring software – choose one!
  3. Kids connect throughout the day using their phones.  Schools constantly struggle with phone usage in class.  Will a smartphone enhance or detract from your kid’s learning experience?
  4. Kids with smartphones regularly use social media on their phones to express approval and dislike for one another.  Smartphones make this constant self-esteem assault easier.  Is your kid emotionally mature enough for the constant approval/disapproval messages expressed through social media?   And at times, their “friends” on social media are actually adults trolling around.  How will you handle unknown friends?  Remember, 42% of all kids online have experienced cyber bullying.
  5. What level of privacy will you extend to your kid and their cell phone?   For kids and adolecents, privacy is a privlidge earned through responsible action.  The more responsibility they demonstrate, the more privacy they get in return.  Privacy can be reduced or revoked temporarly for irresponsiblity, including cell phone usage.  Privacy is not a right for kids, it’s a privlige appropirately given by wise parents.
  6. Once you give them a smart phone, it’s hard to go back.  Keep reading for a sample cell phone contract.

Cell phones for kids enable contact with their friends AND gain access to tons of online content, some of which is great (homework help, texting grandma), some not so great (questionable YouTube videos), and some down-right awful (bullying, abject violence, and lots of porn).

7 Reasons to Choose a “Dumb” Phone for Kids vs. a SmartPhone

  • limit access to internetphones for kids
  • limit games and distractions
  • limit social media exposure and bullying
  • much cheaper monthly plan
  • less attractive to theft
  • less costly to replace
  • lower-cost way to gauge kid’s phone responsibility & readiness

*When you do decide to get your kid a phone, consider drafting a “cell phone contract”.  A contract should include expectations for use and care, along with possible consequences for misuse.  Below is a sample contract that you can use to start drafting one that’s right for your family.  What will you include?

Sample Cell Phone Contract

Yea!  You earned your first cell phone!  We’re excited for you!  We’re excited and we want to be able to stay in touch with you and for you to build relationships using your phone.  We both had phones (land-lines) as teens and spent lots of time connecting with friends.  As with any device, there are both pros and cons.  To help protect you from the cons, we developed some rules you must follow to maintain this privilege.  As times goes on, we might amend this contract.

Rules

  1. Take care of your phone
  2. Memorize your number
  3. Keep your phone charged (at night, in parent’s room)
  4. Keep your phone with you when you’re out
  5. Answer calls and texts from family
  6. Parents may check your phone at any time. Period.
  7. Discuss with mom and dad about giving out your phone number
  8. No phone use while driving (one day), dining, or doing other family activities
  9. Maintain family and emergency numbers stored as contacts.  
  10. Use your phone at school only in strict accordance with school policy
  11. Don’t use your phone at any time to bully or embarrass ANYONE!
  12. Know your cell phone plan.  Overages may be your responsibility.  

Considerations:

  1. Limit texting.  It does not replace real, face-to-face conversations
  2. Limit Camera use
  3. Be careful about forwarding messages or photos intended for you.  
  4. Be careful about texting photos & videos.  Only appropriate, non-offensive or non-embarrassing photos & videos.  Nudity and vulgarity are not appropriate.
  5. Texting is great for sharing specific info.  It’s not great for sharing emotion or having detailed conversations.  It’s a great tool with significant limits.   
  6. Be respectful of others while using your phone.  Don’t use it in church, movie, etc.
  7. No phone use after bedtime, unless out of the house.  

I understand, and pledge to abide by these rules and considerations.  If I violate the rules, parents (and grandparents) may suspend phone privileges appropriately.  

_____________________________                                      _____________________________

Kid                                                                                                            Date

_____________________________                                      _____________________________

Parent                                                                                                       Parent