How to encourage responsible cell phone use

Cell phones are incredible tools that allow us to contact friends, colleagues and loved ones in a matter of seconds. While allowing your child to have a phone of their own has obvious benefits, like keeping track of their whereabouts and assuring their safety, there are plenty of pitfalls your child needs to be responsible enough to avoid.

tween on cellphone

Establish expectations

Odds are your child is going to want to log into Facebook, text friends and play games on their phone — and all of that is fine, in moderation. It’s best to be up front with what you expect from your child. If they want a cell phone, they need to play by your rules. That means no texting, game play or Facebook use during school, while driving and at bedtime. Cell phone addiction is like any vice. If it starts negatively affecting your child’s life, it’s time to consider establishing some control over their usage — or taking away the phone altogether.

Control as needed

Perhaps your child has shown signs that they can’t handle having access to their cell phone at inappropriate times. If your child is texting during school, during church, at the dinner table or while driving, it’s time to have a serious discussion. If it’s a chronic problem, taking their cell phone away is an option, but there are alternatives. Plans like Sprint Guardian allow parents to track the whereabouts of their child and completely turn off the function to call or text while driving. Controlled plans are a good way for the parent who wants to stay in touch with their child, even if he or she has shown signs of irresponsible smartphone use.

Discuss the pace of information

If Miley Cyrus’ new haircut was reported just seconds after she walked out of the salon, just imagine how quick juicier information can spread among friends. We live in an age where a text or photo can be sent to a confidant and still be leaked for everyone to see. Information and photos uploaded to the internet from smartphones are permanent, even if they’re deleted from their original source. They can quickly be spread among friends and strangers across the web. Let your kids know that what they put online now will affect them for the rest of their lives. Risque pictures and status updates are unacceptable and can be detrimental to their lives in the long run.

They foot the bill

There’s no easier way to make a kid respect property than by having them pay for it themselves. If your child is old enough to have a job, they’re old enough to pay their cell phone bill. This is not only a great way for your kid to understand the cost and responsibility of having a cell phone, but is also an education in paying bills. Even the simplest of luxuries don’t come free!

More reading

Kids and cell phones: What you need to know
Warning signs of cell phone misuse
Teaching kids about cell phone safety


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