What kinds of cell phone rules should I have for my teen?
Real Mom Problem
“My daughter is 15 and is on her phone either talking or texting and often both at the same time from the minute school gets out until bedtime. It has become an obsession and I would like to put limits on it.”
- 1. Be aware of how much your teen is actually using the cell phone
- 2. Create rules based on your teens' responsibility level
- 3. Remind them of manners and respect for others
Real Mom Solutions
It seems like teens today were born with cell phones in their palms! Read on to get the best mom-to-mom advice on keeping your kids' cell-phone usage under control.
We are pretty strict about the phone on school nights. Our daughter has to put hers on the kitchen counter at 9:00 pm and she is allowed to have it back after 7:00 am in the morning on school days. I told her she has to be ready to walk out the door before texting in the morning.
We do not allow the phone after 9:00 pm on weekdays and 10:00 pm on weekends. And no phone during dinner or family time. One other rule we have had in place for as long as she has been able to use the phone is no questions while on the phone. So for example if a friend is asking her to go somewhere, she has to get all details, then hang up and talk with us about the plan so we can either ask more questions or say yes or no without her friend being part of our decision.
We have my 14-year-old son's phone set up so that he's able to use the phone during times I designate. I have it set up to turn off at 10:00 pm and not come on again until 6:30 am. If he's out with friends, he can still call me, his dad, or his sister. We are his designated emergency people and he can call us 24/7. The limits don't apply to our numbers. We have AT&T.
We have Verizon and they have something called "Parental Controls" for the phone. You have a lot of options for limiting or monitoring our kids' usage. I am sure that other carriers have something similar. I have blocked all calls and texts to anyone except family members between bedtime and 6:00 am. (My daughter was staying up all night texting friends. Now she can't.) You can even set up tracking on your child with this service; I have not done this. We do not allow phones at the table or excessive use during family time.
I don't allow internet on my teens' phones because I don't see the need for the price. They can use the internet at home. And if they do go on the internet, they owe me whatever the charge is.
I expect my kids to follow this rule: people in person have #1 priority. Technology has changed, but manners and respect have not. If you are on the phone (in any manner) at a time when you should be paying attention to the people who are physically in the same room as you, then you are being rude. It is rude to be on the phone while a cashier is checking you out at the store; it is rude to be on the phone when you are having a meal with other people; it is rude to be on the phone when you are in a car with someone who is driving you somewhere.
If our son is going to be dropped off somewhere, or ride his bike on his own, then he has to have his phone. No phone, no go. If he doesn't answer when I call, he loses the phone and therefore loses the ability to go anywhere until I choose to give it back.
Our rules are no phone when you are supposed to be interacting with people (such as dinner), and not after bedtime. We share family minutes and they get an allotment, so they have to use the house phone or text people if they are out of their own minutes for the month.
We had a problem with cell phones -- it was even at the dinner table! I have a basket the phones go in if we are eating and during family time. They also have to put them there at bedtime.