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iParenting- Our Cell Phone Contract for kids!

Did you draw up a contract with your child before handing over that cell phone? A parent-child cell phone agreement is a great way to discuss expectations and individual accountability upfront before that device ever lands in their hands.

We have been withholding the privilege of cellphones for our kids until now. We could’ve gone forever without giving in to the reality of society, but it is important to our kids, so we wanted to honor them. There are many reasons we wanted our kids to wait for this responsibility and I’ve written about that here. Our triplet sons just began 8th grade and their younger sister is in 7th. They are responsible, caring and hard working individuals deserving of this rite of passage in today’s culture.

We did not want the phones to be a gift. Owning an expensive i-gadget such as this is a privilege and responsibility. It’s not a toy. We told the kids they could buy it with their own money if it was important enough to them. Also, who feels good about placing rules and regulations on a gift?

The Carney Crew Cellphone Contract

Purchasing your phone

1. I am responsible for buying my own phone. You may take the money out of your bank account as we know you have been saving up for this big purchase. You are not allowed to spend more than half of whatever you have saved. It is important that you always keep money in the bank. Learn to never spend above your means, even if this means living without.

2. I am not allowed to pick the top of the line, latest and greatest phone, as I’m fine with not having “the best.” Dad has an iPhone 4 and Mom has an iPhone 5. If those are good enough for us, they most certainly are good enough for you.

3. I will only have a LifeProof/Otter Box case on my phone. I know it may not be hip or the cutest option, but it is the safest and believe me, you will be happy when this case saves your precious lifeline. (We will split the cost of this case with you.)

4. If I break or lose my phone, it is my responsibility to get it fixed or replaced. If you are responsible enough to have a phone, you are responsible enough to take care of it. Mistakes do happen, but just know Mom and Dad aren’t obliged to help you out with a new one.

Expectations for owning your phone

We trust you or we would not let you get a phone. Therefore Mom and Dad will not make a daily habit of checking it. Your phone is your personal business and we trust that you will be making good choices and decisions with your conversations and communications. On the other hand, we need to know your password and have the right to check your phone if we feel it is necessary. We will pay for the monthly service plan on your phone, as long as we are in agreement on the following:

1. I will continue to do my best in all aspects of my life– school, sports, activities, etc. If my phone distracts me from doing my schoolwork or meeting other obligations, I will hand it over so that I am better able to concentrate on what’s important.

2. My phone will be taken away if any character issues arise. If we get wind of any inappropriate texts, calls, pictures, etc. we will have to take your phone until we can sit down and talk it through.

3. I will not lie about what I’m doing on my phone. Dishonesty breaks down trust and we won’t be able to let you continue to carry around a device that is causing you to deceive people. This includes deleting text strings.

4. I will be respectful of the family data plan that we are all sharing. If I go above my allotted amount of time, I will be responsible for the cost of that as well as subject to losing my phone.

5. I will always communicate with members of the opposite sex with respect. Do not text, email or say anything through this device that you wouldn’t say in person. Remember that most likely their parents will be reading what you are saying and looking at your photos. Conduct yourself appropriately.

6. If I receive something uncomfortable or dangerous from a friend, I am expected to bring it to my parents’ attention. It is not okay to ignore someone’s cry for help.

7. I will follow the rules that my school has in place for cell phones at all times.

8. Be present. Be in the now. I will be able to put my phone away and enjoy real-time conversations with my family and friends, as I have always done. You are not a rude person, so don’t let this piece of technology change you.

9. My phone must be placed in the agreed-upon area each evening at bedtime. Respect other families by not texting or calling well before this time!

10. Be a good friend and always remember to individualize your friendships. Do not assume that a friend feels value in what you may say in a group text. Be sure to have separate interactions as well. Don’t ever involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.

11. I will not respond to or reply to any communication from unknown contacts.

12. My parents have the right to monitor all Apps and have me delete any that they deem inappropriate. Just because your friends are using something, doesn’t mean that it’s okay for our family. You will need to respect our decisions as we will have done our research.

13. Everything I do and say online is subject to judgment and makes up my reputation. Do not use this technology to lie or deceive another person. Your reputation is a piece of our family reputation. Always be your best self.

14. Purposely leave your phone at home sometimes. Learn to live without it as it’s not an extension of you.

This is an exciting time and we are so proud of you for waiting patiently until Mom and Dad felt it was the right time for you to own your first iPhone! May your relationships with your friends and family strengthen through the ability to text and reach out to one another on this device! We love you dearly!

3 replies
  1. Jill Kaiser
    Jill Kaiser says:

    Awesome contract Amy. We did something similar and, luckily, have never had an issue with CJ. When he jumped into the pool chasing after his little cousins, full of excitement, on his birthday (forgetting his phone was in his pocket), he was devastated as soon as he realized his phone was carefully buttoned in his back pocket. Lesson learned…1.) don’t put a phone inside a swimsuit pocket and 2.) always check your pockets before going near a pool. First thing he said was, “Well, I guess I know what I will be buying with my birthday gift money.” We felt bad for him as it was a hard lesson learned, but lesson indeed. This “life lesson” costs CJ $200; thanks to Carl’s help and Craigslist. He was super responsible before this happened; and now even MORE responsible. It’s hard being a parent of “responsibility” in our world of “entitlement”; but the benefits FAR outweigh the discomfort of tough love. Hats off to you and Keith for keeping life real for your kids. I know it is not always easy; especially with FOUR of them. 🙂

  2. Toni
    Toni says:

    I love this! I so wish I thought of this before I gave my kids their phone. I will have to modify it a little but do this. Better late than never!!

  3. Linda
    Linda says:

    Very thoughtful wording Amy. I love what you’ve done and will be using it as a template to start our own. We have very similar rules but did not lay them out clearly ahead of time. We’ve dealt with repairs and any issues of content along the way, as needed, and it’s all turned out ok so far. Unfortunately for our oldest, she had to learn the rules along the way, the hard way. It will be much better to start off the next two with something like what you’ve done so the expectations are clear. Thanks again for your amazing insight!


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