Wondering why and how you should limit your child’s cell phone use? Check out this article to learn more about why this is so important and how to start.
Limit Cell Phone Use
There are many reasons parents decide to limit their child’s phone usage and access to social media. Constant exposure to technology isn’t healthy for anyone, let alone for younger kids.
How much time they can access technology really depends on their age, their maturity level, and the rules you feel are appropriate for your family.
The dangers of a cell phone
Risks associated with using a smartphone range from blue light exposure to radiofrequency radiation. These things can disrupt sleep patterns, harm your vision, cause changes in brain activity, and reaction times (source).
There have also been many studies that connect cell phone usage to a lower sense of self-esteem and behavioral problems. You’ll need to research carefully before you make your decision.
Should parents limit their children’s use of technology?
As parents, you have a right to limit your child’s access to technology if you feel it may have a negative impact.
If you think your child isn’t mature enough to handle the responsibility, you can set rules about their usage. Or, if you see they are spending too much time online, you can limit the time you let them use it.
Some studies have shown that children who have unlimited access to technology get less exercise and have sleep problems. Others feel that it has an impact on school grades and may cause behavior problems.
How to set rules about your child’s cell phone use
Whenever you set rules, you need to discuss them with your child so they understand what the rules are. And, it’s important to listen to their views while making your decision.
Make sure that they don’t think the new rules are being put in place as some type of punishment. This may cause them to withdraw from you which may make the problem even worse.
Ask for their input and listen to what they say. You don’t have to agree with their requests. But, it’s important that they think you care about their opinion.
The best way to ensure that your child is on board is to sign a cell phone contract for kids. Cellphone contracts list the child’s responsibilities and the consequences if the rules are broken.
Free Printable and Editable Cell Phone Contract for Kids
We offer a free editable parent-child cell phone contract that you can change according to your children and how responsible they are. A cell phone contract for teens will list more responsibilities than one for younger kids. For example, a teen phone contract will relate to driving with a phone. If you are using the template for younger kids, then simply delete this line. A younger child cell phone contract should also be shorter since they will not understand the concept and you don’t want to overwhelm them. If you want to make a lot of changes then use the Word version. If not, use the editable PDF version.
Cell phone etiquette
When talking about smartphone use, make sure they understand the basic rules about how they should be used in your home.
This should include things like how and where they can use their smartphone. And, it should cover ways their usage can impact others in the house.
Cell Phone Rules
Set Rules for Teen Cell Phone Usage
Be sure that you have a discussion about cell phone use and safety with your teen. They should understand that anything shared via text or online eventually may become public.
Here are some sample family rules but you should set the rules that work for your family.
- Set times that calls are allowed in your home. You won’t want your teen getting a call at 11 pm when everyone is asleep.
- No technology at the dinner table lets you focus on family time.
- Lower your voice so everyone in the room doesn’t hear your conversation.
- No driving and using your smartphone whether by voice or text.
- Don’t accept phone calls or text messages while you’re speaking to someone else.
- Turn your ringer to silent or vibrate when you’re with other people who might be disturbed by a call.
- Don’t put your phone on speakerphone when you’re with other people.
- Don’t turn on your phone in places it should be dark like the theater.
- Have a discussion about whether or not there will be limits on their social media access.
- No phones in the bedroom after bedtime means they’re more likely to get a good night’s sleep.
- Understand that a cell phone is a privilege that can be revoked.
- Never give your phone’s password to anyone (except your parents).
Whatever types of rules you put in place for your child, make sure they’re appropriate for their age. What works for a 10-year-old, won’t be appropriate for a 15-year-old.
Revisit these rules regularly and don’t be afraid to change them if you need to. If your teen isn’t complying with the rules, you may want to limit usage.
If they are more mature than you thought they would be with their smartphone, you might want to allow them more freedom when it comes to phone usage.
Finally, the first step is to sit down and have a conversation with them before they have their phone, not after. I strongly suggest using a contract to ensure that there are no misunderstandings and that both the responsibilities and the consequences are clear to both sides.
Monitor your child’s phone
You might think that monitoring your child’s phone is snooping and invading their privacy but it isn’t. Younger kids do not yet understand netiquette and the consequences of online bullying. There have also been cases when children have been unknowingly communicating with potential child predators. Today, kids send images via Snapchat and other platforms. This enables potential predators to know your child’s exact location. Younger children are not yet capable of protecting themselves from these dangers. Therefore, it is wise to occasionally monitor their cell phone use.
There are also many apps that will monitor your child’s cell phone use such as mSpy, FlexiSPY, Qustodio and Family Time.