These days kids are asking for phones from a very young age. We were always resolute that our eldest wouldn’t get one until he was in secondary school. Or at least when he was 12. Then, last Christmas, 3 months after his 11th birthday we decided to surprise him with one.
We had our reasons.
Firstly, we thought that we might have a better chance of controlling it when he was younger getting it, and that, in our heads meant that he might be more responsible with it. Secondly, if he’d asked Santa for one the following year it was likely to be a top of the range one that he’d damage instantly and thirdly, sometimes it’s nice for the parents to give the fun out of the blue surprises rather than the man in red.
However, we were keen to lay down some ground rules from the outset so we did a bit of googling and thinking and even talked to each other about what we were and weren’t comfortable with and on Christmas Eve we put together a list of rules as to how the phone was to be used. We gave this to him on top of the phone in the wrapping paper and said he had to agree to it before he could open the phone. He read it and agreed! The agreement is a good way to get your primary school child to understand the responsibility have a mobile phone gives them and an opportunity for you to talk to them about it.
So, what should you include?
Every family has different circumstances and boundaries, so figure out what you are comfortable with. Here are some points to think about :
Cost – Child to contribute to monthly cost or going outside of package minutes/data
Control – Parents to set app time limits, all apps have to be pre-approved by parents, bedtime set automatically, parents can disable phone at any time if the rules are broken. We use an app called Google Family link that works really well, we can limit time on the phone, waking hours of the phone and time limits for certain apps, and all new apps have to be approved by us first. Consider what apps you will allow, we have a banned list and then when he wants knew ones we can research them. Again, different things work for different families, and don’t believe it when you are told that EVERYONE in Fourth Class has that app that’s 18s only. For some apps you can limit them to underage or restricted mode so look into that too.
Supervision – Parents to be told PIN and passwords, Phone to be handed to parents when asked to review messages, search history etc
Acceptable Usage – the phone should only be used when allowed by the rules of where you are eg school, church, theatre, the phone must never be used to bully, shame, intentionally upset or hurt others
Time limits – time limits for certain apps and for daily phone usage. We control these through the Family Link app.
Where the phone can/can’t be used
You might think this is all over the top, or you might think it’s a great idea, that’s OK, like I keep saying we are all different. We found it helpful to have something in writing to remind our son of the rules he agreed to.
I’ve attached a template to get you started based on the one we did last Christmas, feel free to use it an to amend it to your circumstances, it’s a conversation starter and a reminder to your child that you trust them to have a phone and how they should show that you are right to!
Here’s the template, I’d love to hear if you use it. It’s designed for primary school aged children. And, despite the fact that I am a solicitor this isn’t legal advice and the contract is unlikely to be enforceable in court 😉
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Mobile Phone Use Agreement Parent and Child (for children aged 10-13)