Tuesday, October 7, 2014

cell phone contracts

When I turned 16 my parents gave me a car and a contract to go along with it. The contract had to be signed before I could drive it and I had to agree to do things like drive responsibly, always wear my seat belt, never drive after drinking alcohol, take my sister necessary places, help pick up my grandparents laundry once a week, etc. I think it was pretty effective in stressing the importance of the car being a privilege and not a right and also encouraging safety.

My daughter is only eight but she already wants a cell phone. Julianna is actually doing a project for school where she has to tell how she would spend a million dollars and one of the things she wrote that she would buy was a cell phone. Actually, Josh wants one too and he's only four.  I've been mulling over the idea of responsible cell phone usage and not that I'll be getting either of my children one any time soon, but it has been good to give it some thought.

I know that one of the best ways to teach children is by modeling. I have pretty good kids. I try to model good behavior all the time but everyone knows how difficult that can be. It's easier not to text and drive now that I have the new car, but I don't think that ANY kid will listen when you tell them not to text and drive if they see you doing it yourself.

Some things I've been thinking about regarding cell phones that I believe would be good in a contract for your kids when they first get a cell phone are listed below. I'd love to hear your thoughts so that I can be prepared for the day when my kids do get their own phones. Leave some input in the comments if you have anything to add.

  • Having a cell phone is a privilege, not a right. Using it with the expectation that it is yours to use as you please is a mistake and your parents are under no obligation to let you use it however and whenever you please.
  • The use of a cell phone requires responsibility. I acknowledge that it is a serious matter. If my phone gets lost, damaged, wet, or ruined in any other way I will take responsibility for my actions and replace the phone at my own expense.
  • Safety first! Operating a vehicle while using a cell phone injures and kills more than 419,000 people per year. I recognize that if I were to use my phone while driving I could injure or kill myself or others. I agree to do the safe thing and not use the phone until I've reached my destination.
  • I acknowledge that a cell phone gives me access to beau coups of information. What I do with that information is up to me. I will search the web for only information that I would willingly share with my parents.
  • Communicating with people is a life skill that I should know how to do well. I will use my manners when communicating via text, phone conversation, instant messaging, social media sites, etc just as if I was talking with them face-to-face. I will not say anything to anyone via text message or social media outlet that I would not say to them or to their grandmother's face.
  • In addition to the communication guidelines mentioned above, I will not use my cell phone to be rude. When I am face-to-face with another human being I will give them the respect that they deserve and I will put down my phone. I will not carry my phone to class. I will not use my phone in public meetings such as during church and other groups where my attention is desired elsewhere.
  • I will not give out information that should be kept private. This includes my own personal information and other people's information such as names, addresses, and phone numbers as well as pictures that are private in nature.
  • I recognize that the information and pictures that I post are public and subject to almost immeasurable repercussions. The lasting impact of cyberspace is very powerful and I will take care to only post pictures and information that I don't mind being around forever.
  • I agree to give my parents access to my phone periodically and any time upon their request. Until I prove that I am responsible enough to use a phone in a careful, respectful, and conscientious manner my cell phone usage will be monitored.

What other thoughts would you add?

What do you think is the earliest age that is appropriate to give a child a cell phone?

Do your kids have a cell phone? If so, what limits or guidelines have you placed on it's usage?

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