When to get Kids a cell phone Posted by: Dr. Matt

Getting your kid a cell phone?  

Use a Phone Contract to help them…use their phone responsibly, yet be where they’re at, with whom they’re with.

Are you considering getting your kid a cell phone?  When to take that plunge is often a difficult step for parents, as is setting limits on cell phone use.  Phones are great tools of communication that often facilitate staying in touch with your kids – “I’m running 10 minutes late.  Sit tight.”

Check out Louis CK discussing phones with Conan…  Existential!

Cell phones also enable your kid to keep in touch 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 vs. a SmartPhone

  • limit access to internetdumb vs smart
  • 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.


  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.  


  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

smart phone void