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Get Cell Phone Use Under Control

Cell phones are here to stay. With the ever increasing convenience and quickly decreasing costs, more and more parents are giving their teenagers cell phones. But, convenience aside, cell phones should be a privilege that is earned by your tween or teen and not an absolute right. Care must be taken when providing teens with a cellphone. Take some time to establish some guidelines for how and when your teen can use her phone.

Rules of the Game

All teens should be required to follow some basic rules about cell phone use and privileges. Try these suggestions on for size:

  • Every contact must be approved. You should know and approve every person your teen is calling and texting. If you suspect your teen is hiding contacts from you, then reserve the right to check the phone unannounced.
  • The cell phone is to be used only at certain times. Teen cell phone use should be a need and not just another electronic entertainment device. Make sure your teen’s phone is off during homework, mealtime, and family time, and physically turn it off at a set time every evening at bedtime. If you find your teen has been texting “after hours,” then make sure she hands over her phone before going to bed until earning your trust again.
  • Reserve the right to review. Make it clear that you can, at any time, review your child’s cell phone use, contacts, text messages, and other phone features. For her safety, it's critical you know everything about how your teen uses her cell phone.
  • Cell phone use is a privilege, not a right. Set clear expectations for your teen’s grades and school activities. Make sure she understands the consequences for not “making the grade.”

Most parents want to be fair, but parenting isn't a democracy, Sometimes you just have to do what’s right for your kids, even if they “hate” you for it. If you have clear-cut rules and clearly defined penalties for violating those rules, your child won’t be surprised or upset if her phone suddenly vanishes because of inappropriate behavior.