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Creating basic cell phone rules for kids

So you finally broke down and got your kid a cell phone. Now what? Keep it under control with some basic cell phone rules.

teens using cellphone

Who she can call

Having her own cell phone doesn’t give her a license to talk to whomever she wants. You should always have the authority to approve or veto anyone on her contact list.

When she can call

Set a strict curfew for her phone. If it’s on all night long, she’ll be up all night talking or texting when she should be asleep. If you can’t trust her to follow the rules, make her hand it over to you at a certain time each night, and then give it back in the morning.

Call/text limit

You may be able to work that extra cell phone into your monthly bill without too much of an impact, but huge overage charges will definitely hurt your wallet. Let her know what her limit is, both for minutes and texts, and make her stick to it. Give her weekly updates about how close she is to her limit.

Protect family time

If you’re not careful, that cell phone can steal the togetherness from your family time. Don’t allow that to happen. Keep cell phones away from the dinner table, as well any other important event. Reserve the right to outlaw cell phones anytime.

Protect your access

Make a rule that you can look at her phone any time you like, with no notice needed. Look through her calls (both incoming and outgoing) and texts, as well as emails and web history. Have a look at least twice each week.

Follow school rules

If it’s necessary that she take her cell phone to school, make sure she knows, understands and follows the school rules on phones. She may be required to keep it in her locker or turn it in at the office.

Make a contract

Lay out all of the rules in a contract, and go over them carefully with your child. Both of you should sign the contract, and then store it in a safe place. If she starts to slip up on following the rules, pull it out for a refresher course.

Quick Tip

Look for apps and parental control programs that can enforce most of these rules for you.

More reading

Kids and cell phones: What you need to know
Lessons all teens should know about texting
Warning signs of cell phone misuse

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