You already have a number of rules for your teen. From keeping his room reasonably clean to helping feed the pets and doing homework before watching television at night, your teen is used to living with certain boundaries. So why shouldn’t this extend to his cellphone usage?
Now that you have bought your teen his first smartphone, you should create a cellphone contract to make sure he knows the boundaries. Here are a few reasons why:
Why a Contract
Unfortunately, smartphones can be used in ways that are less than wise. Your teen may be tempted to text and drive or post messages or photos that are inappropriate. After all, they are young and will probably try to bend the rules. But when you take the time to write out and sign a list of expected behaviors, everything is clearly set up in black and white. Your teen might try to say he forgot a certain cellphone rule, but when you can bring out the contract as a reminder, it will take a bit of the wind out of your child’s sails.
Include What Type of Phone is OK
Your teen may have visions of the latest and greatest smartphone, but you and your wallet will have the final say. In the contract, spell out what types of cellphones your teen is allowed to have, including any information you wish to add about acceptable price ranges, payment and data plans, and other features. You may not want to get the newest version of a smartphone, but rather go a step down to save a little money without sacrificing the quality. For example, instead of buying your teen the new Galaxy Note7, go for the Galaxy Note5 that still has many of the same features. If your son is contributing some allowance money to the payment, add that to the contract, too.
Decide if You Approve of Internet Access
Your teen might not need a phone that can access every last website on the internet. If you feel like he should be able to text his friends and call you for rides but not be tempted to buy things from online retailers, that is totally fine. But if you think he might need it for school research or for checking email, you might allow Wi-Fi access when necessary. No matter what you choose, write it down in the contract so there are no misunderstandings later.
Make a List of Rules and Consequences
As for how to fill out the rest of the cellphone contract, sit down with your teen and go over whatever rules you feel strongly about. These may include things like “No texting friends after 9 p.m.,” “No loaning your smartphone to friends” and “No texting or driving, period.”
The consequences should also be very clear. Some examples may include “If my grades drop to a C or lower, I will lose my phone until they are back up” or “I will lose smartphone privileges for a day if I play games on my phone before finishing my homework.”