Creating an Acceptable Smartphone Contract
Just like the rules you set for your child to keep their room clean, get along with their sibling, what to do when staying home alone, etc., rules must also be set on smartphone use. Kids are used to rules. They’re everywhere. They may not like them, but they know there are consequences for not following them. They’ll never tell you this, but many young children are actually glad to have some rules. It gives them a sense of security, and fulfills their need for adult approval when they know they are doing the right thing.
It’s as they grow older, and seek their peers’ approval more than their parents, that it starts to get tricky.
Why a Contract?
Let’s be real. Kids will try and bend the rules. They “forget” them. They give excuses for breaking them.
Contracts may be used by parents for many reasons. When rules and expectations are written out and signed, the forgetfulness and other excuses have less effect on the consequences already set for breaking them. Another reason for creating a contract is statistics.
- 75% of teen drivers admitted to texting and driving.
- 22% of teens admitted that have sent inappropriate pictures and text messages.
- In 2010, 2,332 people were arrested for Internet sex crimes against minors involved social networking sites.
If you want to keep your child safe, it’s important to make sure they aren’t using their phone in unsafe ways.
How to Create a Contract
The decision to give teens a smartphone has increased as parents realize it can be used as a way to protect their child. However, they are concerned with the risks of connecting their child to the whole world. One solution to that is creating a contract, but to make it effective, it needs to be done correctly.
One of the most important things you should do is to make sure you create the contract early—when they get their first smartphone. This way they accept the contract as part of the privilege of using a smartphone. It should be clear to them that it isn’t really their phone, it’s your phone, and you are letting them use it.
Also include your teen in the process of creating the contract. Working together to come up with boundaries will help your teen realize that you are not just imposing more rules, but it’s for their own protection.
They also need to know the consequences for breaking the contract. More likely than not, this is going to happen. It won’t be pleasant, but you will need to enforce the consequences. That’s why it’s important not to create consequences that are unrealistic or won’t be enforced.
As they grow older, you can then adjust the contract to allow them more freedoms. By having a contract from an early age, rather than imposing rules on a child once they’ve started acting out of turn, and have already known the freedoms of unregulated smartphone use, they are more likely to continue to follow the rules, and less likely to resent your monitoring.
Make a List
When creating the contract, make a list of things you feel are important to include in the contract. Some suggestions are:
- I will not use my phone to send inappropriate pictures or text messages.
- I will follow school rules concerning using my phone.
- I will not text and drive. I won’t even look at my phone while driving.
- I understand my phone may be taken away for breaking any rules set up in this contract.
- I understand that my phone may be taken away if my grades drop or show disrespectful behavior at school or home.
- My parents will have knowledge of my passwords.
For more ideas, you can download the TeenSafe Smartphone Contract here:
Most teens are going to mess up. If the consequence is to take away their phone, do so, then sit down and talk about it. Give your teen a chance to explain themselves. Don’t overreact and don’t decide to keep their phone for an unrealistic period of time. This is a learning experience for both of you. Wipe the slate clean, and give them a chance to start over. If you don’t, you are not giving them a chance to learn from their mistakes. Work it out together.