Smartphone Rules and Your Family
Having a smartphone contract in place early can help your teen understand the guidelines you expect to follow as well as the consequences they can expect when they are broken.
Giving kids a cell phone means giving them a lot of responsibility. Having a cell phone contract is a good way to manage some of the challenges that can come along with a phone. This is especially important for kids who are easily distracted or who struggle with impulse control.
A cell phone contract can also help set limits on how much kids can spend each month on apps. If time management is a problem, you can set “phone-free” hours during class or at mealtimes or bedtime. These are some of the reasons why a cell phone contract may be especially helpful for kids with ADHD .
Creating a smartphone contract between you and your teen (tween) is an excellent way to teach your child about these rules and responsibilities, as well as the consequences for not seeing them through. Be sure you go over every item in your contract, giving your child the opportunity to ask questions and even make suggestions.
Here is a sample of a smartphone contract.
Edit it to fit your family’s needs:
Make a list of your teen’s responsibilities, such as:
- Teen will share their phone’s password with their parents and they may use it to check my phone at any time.
- Teen will not send threatening or mean texts to others.
- Teen will not be on their phone after 9pm.
- Teen will answer or respond promptly when their parents contact them.
- Teen will not bring their smartphone to the dinner table.
- Teen is responsible for knowing where their phone is and keeping it in good condition.
- Teen will use rules of etiquette regarding cell phones in public places, such as restaurants, church or with others.
- Teen will obey rules at school regarding electronic devices, such as turning them off in class.
- Teen will tell their parents if they receive suspicious or alarming calls or texts from unknown people.
- Teen will tell their parents or a trusted adult if they are being harassed online.
- Teen will not use their cell phone to bully/cyberbully another person.
- Teen not send inappropriate photos or take embarrassing photos of others.
- Teen cannot use their phone to buy or download anything without asking permission.
- Teen cannot create fake accounts on social media and pretend to be older than they are.
- Teen cannot turn-off their GPS system on their smartphone.
- Teen cannot manipulate parental controls on their smartphone.
- Teen will only have 3 sound notifications turned on. This can reduce stress levels. Every time a bell, ring or any alert sounds, it can trigger stress and anxiety.
- Teen will only check their phone every 15-30 minutes, depending on the day. It’s important to start developing healthy screen time early.
The consequences for breaking smartphone usage rules that can lead to having their device removed:
- Teen understands that having a cell phone is a privilege, not a right; if they fail to adhere to this contract, their cell phone privilege may be revoked.
- If needed, they may help pay for the cost of the phone and/or for excess charges that they incur without permission from their parent’s, such as making purchases or downloads without a parents permission.
- Teen understands that their cell phone may be taken away if they talk back to their parents, don’t do their chores, or fail to keep their grades up.
- Teen understands if they are engaging in risky behavior, such as substance use, sneaking out, disrespect to others, etc – it’s likely their smartphone will be removed.
Detail the parent responsibilities:
- I understand that I will make myself available to answer any questions my child might have about owning a smartphone and using it responsibly.
- I will let my teen know that there is are parental controls in place for their safety. We will never invade their privacy unless we feel they are in danger.
- I will support my teen when they tell me to an alarming message that they have received or if they are being harassed or feel threatened online.
- I will tell my child if our cell phone plan changes.
- I will give my child _______ warning(s) before I take his or her cell phone away.
Be sure to check in regularly with your teen to review the contract. Talk about what’s working and what you could change to make the contract more helpful.
Also consider a Technology Agreement.
If you are struggling with your teenager’s internet addiction and have exhausted your local resources, learn more about how residential treatment can help your teen develop a healthy relationship with technology. Contact us today for a free consultation.