Cell Phone Contracts
There’s been a lot of talk about one Mom’s cell phone contract with her son.
While this sounds intriguing and like a good idea, I’m not a complete fan. In reality, a contract is something you put in place when the relationship and trust isn’t strong enough to carry you forward. Your goal should be to have such a strong relationship with your children that you never need a contract.
“There’s a lot of wisdom in the full set [of rules],” says Ann Collier, journalist, and founder of Net Family News, a public service for parents and educators on all aspects of youth and technology. “But it’s not wise – not motivating or inspiring for our children, or even particularly helpful to them – if we reflexively assume they all need a comprehensive set of rules like this.”
I think for the most part the rules are ones that any parent will want in place, but the hope is that these rules are talked about and understood at a level that doesn’t need to be written down. That’s not to say that you as parent shouldn’t write them down if needed, but it might not need to be a contract, maybe just some guidelines to follow.
When I was in high school, my parents were always very open and trusting of me. They taught me right from wrong and trusted me to make the right decisions. They made it completely clear that they knew I was able to take care of myself and make the right decisions and that if I ever got into an uncomfortable situation, I could always call and depend on them to be helpful and non-judgmental. This is the kind of relationship that needs to exist between parents and children in order for them to make the right decisions and know what to do in any situation. That said, there are a few more things you can do to help guide your children in using their cell phones properly.
Set up Cell Phones Properly.
When your kids get cell phones, follow these four important steps.
- Pre-program any important numbers into the phone so they can easily reach someone if needed and, maybe more importantly, see who’s calling them.
- Tell children that if they don’t know who’s calling, let the call go to voicemail. If it’s important, the caller will leave one.
- Tell your children to give out their cell phone numbers only to people they trust.
- Tell children to be careful of downloading apps as they may compromise your privacy.
I hope this gives you a good place to start talking to your kids about online safety. Remember if you start early and stay honest, it will get easier as you go. Plus, your kids will appreciate the stronger relationship you’re building with them. It’s completely worth it.