For a lot of parents, one of the biggest decisions they make is whether or not to buy a cell phone for their tween child. After all, there are many pros and cons that come with giving a child their first cell phone. On one hand, you can communicate with them and make sure they are at all times. On the other hand though, it might become a huge problem and a distraction with the tween can’t put the phone down at home, at school or even during dinner time. Thankfully, there are some rules that parents can set before giving their tween their first phone.
10 Limits And Boundaries
First and foremost, set limits and boundaries. Some parents allow their children to only have their cell phones during the weekends, evening hours or after their chores and homework are completed. It’s also a very good idea to limit the amount of minutes or texts that your child is allowed to use per week. Make sure you communicate your expectations and whatever rules and policies you may have before giving your child their phone. If your child breaks these rules, then as a parent you have every right to take their phone away. It’s also their responsibility to take care of their phone.
9 Time And Place
As with everything else in life, there is a time and a place in which you can use your phone and a time and place in which you shouldn’t use your phone. For example, if you are at a family gathering, religious service, or a restaurant, the phone should be put away.
If your child is speaking to another adult, they shouldn’t be texting or playing with an app at the same time. Also, if your school has a strict no-phone policy, make sure that your child keeps their phone at home or hands it over to a school administrator, should they need it after the bell.
8 Answer Your Mom And Dad’s Calls Immediately
Many tweens might think otherwise, but most moms and dads get their children cell phones for a good reason and that’s to keep in touch with one another. If a parent calls, then a child should know that it’s their duty to answer the phone immediately. Simply put, everything else can wait and should wait. The last thing a parent needs is to worry about their child, especially if they are not picking up their phone during emergency situations or their parents don’t know where they are. Remember, mom and dad come first, and everyone else – and their text messages – can certainly wait.
7 Keep Your Number Private
This should perhaps be the most important rule for tweens: never, ever give out your phone number to people that you don’t know. Keep your phone number private at all times. The only people who should have a tween’s phone number are immediate family members, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close friends. And even when it comes to friends, it should only be the people that mom and dad approve of. Tweens and children of any age shouldn’t be contacted by people who they don’t know. If someone does get a hold of their phone number, make sure that it’s blocked right away.
6 Know Basic Phone Etiquette
Everyday manners are very important and phone manners are even more important. If your tween has their own phone, make sure that they know and are well aware of phone etiquette. This includes how to answer and make phone calls, how to send a text with the right punctuation and of course, how to silence your phone when it's needed. Also, make sure your child knows that it’s not a good look when they constantly have their phones in their hands, especially during family gatherings and events. Have them put it away in a bag or their back pocket if possible.
5 Restrict Camera Access
Many parents might not be aware of this, but you can and should restrict camera access. More often than not many tweens take endless photos of everything they see throughout the day, from their meals to their clothes and shoes and the things they happen to come across outside.
There are also many tweens who take inappropriate photos, photos of others without their consent or the type of photos that can end up in the wrong hands. Talk to your children about consent and if they have social media, what is appropriate to upload and what is best kept in their phone’s storage.
4 No Cell Phones At Night
There are a lot of parents that take their children’s phones away before bedtime and there’s a good reason for it. Many health experts point out that many tweens and teens suffer from disruptive sleep patterns because they are constantly checking their phones at night or have a hard time falling asleep because they are glued to their screens. And as a result, they have a hard time waking up for school. Of course, there’s also the fact that many teens (and adults) are hooked on their phones because of the constant notifications they receive. And many feel like they have to respond to each notification right away, too.
3 Respect School Rules Regarding Phones
If your child’s school does allow cell phones, make sure that you and your tween go over their policies regarding school phone use. Also, make sure that your child knows that once again there’s a time and a place for everything and that using your cell phone in the classroom is not one of them. Also let them know that if they break the rules, then their teacher or school administrator has every right to take their phone away. Also, before you give your tween their new phone, talk to other parents who have done the same with their children, too. See what rules they have before applying your own.
2 Be Ready To Cover The Repair Costs
Having your own cell phone is a very huge responsibility for many kids. And in some cases, some tweens might not be fully ready or mature enough to handle such a task. Before giving your child their first phone, let them know that they should be prepared to cover whatever repair or maintenance costs, should something happen or break while in their use. As many parents know, cell phones are not cheap and repairing a broken screen certainly isn’t cheap, either. Tweens should take care of their cell phones the same way that they take care of their other important belongings.
1 Know That It’s A Privilege
Last but not least, let your tween know that owning their own cell phone is a privilege and certainly not a right. If they break any of your family’s rules regarding cell phone use, then both mom and dad have the right to take it away or in some cases, disconnect their child altogether, especially if they can’t handle such an adult responsibility in their lives. Also, keep in mind that bullying should not be tolerated at any times. If they can’t say it out loud to a person, then they certainly shouldn’t say it over the phone, either. Digital kindness matters, too.