I’m not gonna lie. This parenting gig is hard. Like really hard (we drink every time I say that). My oldest daughter had been asking for her own phone since she was 7. “But Mom, all my friends have one’. *insert full body eye roll*
I went to an internet safety class at my daughters school one evening and the police detective that was teaching the class/seminar freaked me out. Dude. The stories she told. Jaw dropping. Like seriously, I wanted to go hide my sweet children in the basement for the next 100 years so those creepy guys can’t get anywhere near them. Over my dead body.
So, when they start asking for a phone I really need to dig deep and answer a few questions. Did she need a phone? At age 7? No way Jose. Did I think about getting her a Gizmo that can only make phone calls to 4 different numbers and had GPS tracking? Yes, yes I did. But as my eldest, she was hardly out of my sight, (The therapist can thank me for that later) and if she was, she was at school and could email/call me the second she needed something. Is a Gizmo something that I might get for my middle daughter at age 10? Maybe.
But when she started the 6th grade and she started having a little more freedom, I thought it was time. We picked out a cheap phone, got an indestructible case and I started to think about that internet safety seminar.
*deep breaths, Sar*
Ok, after I was able to start breathing again I started thinking up what the rules of the phone should be. As the list got longer, it started to look like a contract. So, I kept rolling with it. There are a few phone contracts out there & some of them are pretty great. I love the one on Josh Shipps page. After tons of research I ended up with a contract. It works for us. I added it to heavy card stock (I was bummed I didn’t have blue to be all fancy like ‘real’ contracts you see in the movies), added a huge red bow…because, who doesn’t love something with a big huge bow? We all read it together and then we all signed with fancy pens, of course. I then put a copy on the fridge & put the signed one in her drawer so she can take a look-see whenever she wants. Yes it is single spaces and 2 pages. It is a lot. But it is a big step & I don’t think it should be taken lightly. (ok, yes, is there a little humor in the contract? Of course…have you met me?)
Here we are a year into giving her the phone and it is working out to be great. She can stay on top of her school assignments and keep in touch with her friends and family AND watch videos of cats. So that’s great. I’ve added a GPS app to both her phone and mine so we can find each other the second we want to. Is it possible that it is the most amazing leverage in the history of ever? Quite possibly…but hugs still work great for the 6 year old. 😉
What would you write in a phone contract with your 12 year old?
My favorite contract points…
I will hand the phone to one of my parents promptly at 7pm every school night and every weekend night at 8pm. I will get it back at 7am. Initial here: ______
I will not use my phone during meals, when at a restaurant or during family time. Initial here: ______
When talking face to face with friends, I will not use my phone. Initial here: ______
I will honor my school rules and not use my cell phone during school hours. Initial here: ______
I will not send or receive anything I think could be inappropriate. Initial here: ______
I have the best mom EVER Initial here: ______
I will never search for anything that I wouldn’t want my grandma finding. Initial here: ______
Before loading an app (or a song), I will check with Mom or Dad if it is appropriate. Initial here: ______
I will be ‘friends’ with mom & dad on any and all apps/social networks. Initial here: ______
I will make an effort to learn phone and internet etiquette. I understand this is an extension of normal manners. I will turn off, silence, and put my phone away in public–especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. I am not a rude person. I will not allow the phone to change this important part of who I am. Initial here: ______
If I get a feeling in my stomach or in my heart that something isn’t right, I will talk to my Mom. Initial here: ______
I understand that it is funny to make jokes about strawberries, not people. I will not joke about a person, a group of people or what might be construed as people. Initial here: ______