Responsibility 101: Rules For Your Child’s First Cell Phone

September 3, 2015  |  

When I was two years old I was only worried about sesame street and my dolls. My two-year old son knows how to use my phone better than me. He knows how to get to his apps, find cartoons on YouTube and I’ve even found an app or two that he actually installed from the google store.

Obviously we are in the age of technology but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be guidelines and rules when it comes to older children and their first cell phone. The pros are being able to stay connected to them, to have it for emergency use, and to help teach responsibility. Some of the cons could be inappropriate text messages, late night phone calls in their room, a horrifying cell phone bill that shows $100.00 in app purchases, or texting while driving.

Give An Age Appropriate Phone
If your 10-year-old walks home by themselves from school or takes the school bus home, it is probably a good idea for them to have a way to communicate with you. But, because of their age you may want to give them a basic phone with limited or no internet access. And there is a way to adjust settings so that they can only call you, a few others, and make emergency calls. Now, someone a little older like 13 or 14 could have a phone with more options if you think they are responsible enough.

Keep A Dialogue Going
When your kid gets their first phone it can be really exciting for them. Check in daily or once a week asking how they like it and why. Did they use any of the apps you downloaded together? Ask do their friends send them funny texts or has anyone ever sent them a mean text. A dialogue is a great way to bond and for you to measure their responsibility and maturity when it comes to cell phone use. The more responsible you see they can act, the more privileges they should be able to have over time and you should explain it that way.

Role Play
You may think this part is a little corny but it can really help your child figure out what to do in weird circumstances. You could ask your son “What if your friend sends you a text picture of his ex girlfriend who he is mad at, in her bra and asks you to send it to as many people as you can?” Find out what he would do first and then give your suggestion for appropriate behavior. Or ask your daughter what if someone tells you to text them pictures from the girls sleep over the other night. Ask them which ones are appropriate to send and then let them know your thoughts.

Talk About Selfies And Pictures
Make sure that you discuss appropriate picture-taking. Explain that once a picture is sent over text, through email, or uploaded to Facebook that they can never ever get it back. They need to know that a picture they send to a friend down the street can end up on someones phone in India so they should be very careful with what they send.

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