We live in this day and age where things like a smartphone are expected. There are parents out there who genuinely feel guilty if their child is the only one amongst their friend circle that doesn’t have a cell phone or the freedom to walk around town aimlessly. I never feel guilty. I parent my children the way I parent them, other children have nothing to do with my rules nor my children. With that being said, if a child is willing to work for extra items, such as a smartphone, or if the situation calls for a child needing a cell phone, I am all for it. I also firmly believe that a cell phone or smartphone is an extra privilege that needs to be earned, whether this is a necessary item or not, does not matter – it is still an earned privilege in my opinion.
Set Very Clear Expectations For Child
Set clear cut rules for the child who has the smartphone/cell phone. Let the child know what you will expect them to do for you as a means to pay for their cell phone line. If the child is old enough, they may use cash from their paycheck. If the child is not old enough, they may work to do chores or other tasks around the home to pay for their cell or smartphone line. Some ideas of expectations you may set are:
- If self employed — assign child a small task each day that works to pay for their cell phone.
- Chores – daily dish washing, folding laundry, washing/drying laundry, organizing family room, cleaning bathroom, etc
- Assign Consequence – if said duty is not completed then the cell or smartphone is gone for 24 hours as a first warning. IF chores/duties not completed a second time, loss of cell or smartphone can go for longer period of time.
- Suggestion/Tip– make sure the chore or ask required is fair to the amount per month that the cell or smartphone costs. Do not over work your child, break down the monthly rate into a weekly rate to see what tasks would accommodate that amount of cash if you were paying them cash.
Set Rules For Phone Usage
Be very clear about when and how your child is to use this cell phone or smartphone. Some examples of rules you may want to enforce are:
- App Usage – require that the child ask the parent for permission before installing any apps onto their phone.
- Messages/Emails – require that the child not delete any messages or emails sent other people so that you may monitor who they are speaking to as well as glance to ensure the conversation is age appropriate.
- Set Time Constraints – require that the cell phone or smartphone is not in their bedroom after bedtime, be sure that they know that family comes first so there is to be no “eyes all in cell phone 24/7” or they lose their phone for remainder of that evening.
Teaches Trust, Respect and Responsibility
When you do more than just hand over a cell or smartphone to your child, such as setting expectations for them ahead of time, you are teaching them so many skills, the key is to stand firm with the list you assigned your child, so they know the real world does have consequences if both parties don’t keep up their end of the deal. Setting clear cut tasks to pay for cell or smartphone in addition to having a clear cut consequence setup for failure to do said task, teaches your children the following life lessons:
- Trust – by simply having your child be allowed a cell phone or smartphone is showing a huge level of trust in them. They now have an expensive piece of equipment with them every day. They have more freedom to talk to whoever or surf the web, or what not.
- Respect – by having set tasks for the child to complete as a means to keep their cell line open for usage, they are learning to have respect for their parental units, as well as for their own self. Having expectations set forth and the child following them is a sign of respect both ways which can really boost self esteem in child.
- Responsibility – by having expectations set forth you are showing your child that they must be responsible for their own actions and they must be responsible to keep said cell phone or smartphone safe from damage or theft.
Handing over a cell phone or smartphone to your child is a huge deal. This decision should not be taken lightly and you should communicate with your child as to what you expect from them before you even hand over a cell phone or smartphone to them. The child must realize this is a huge trust thing and if they break that trust you are giving them, then their life as they know it will cease to exist. I am a firm believer in building trust, so if you feel the same, this is a great way to introduce a cell phone or smartphone into your child’s life while building trust between the two of you.