My older son (now 21) started asking us for a cell phone when he was twelve and in middle school. Though many of his friends had their own phone (which is why he wanted one!), for our family, it wasn’t the right thing to do at the time.
As his fourteenth birthday approached, my husband Jim and I decided that we were ready to provide him with a cell phone because our family was getting busier and we were often going in different directions. Our son was also starting to make more plans with friends, and keeping track of his whereabouts wasn’t as easy as it used to be. So on his fourteenth birthday, THIS HAPPENED:
We wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page with the rules as they related to the cell phone, and so I made up a contract for the three of us to sign (and refer to later as needed). He had absolutely no problems with following the rules that we set. Below is the cell phone contract I wrote. Feel free to copy it and alter to your own family’s needs. I’m not the first mom to write one and certainly not the last. Take it and run with it; I hope it works well for you!
The Rules of the Ring, Wells-style:
1. Take great care of the cell phone. You must, with your own money, go to (our phone carrier’s) store with one of us and get some kind of case for the phone. It will cost about $15-20.
2. If something happens to it (it breaks, gets lost, stolen, whatever), you must tell us IMMEDIATELY. If it’s missing and someone finds it, they could use our account.
3. We have the phone insured, so if something does happen to it, there is a charge to get a new phone, instead of the full price of the phone. You will pay the charge if this occurs.
4. If you are home, you may not make calls on your cell phone. You must use the landline UNLESS there is a school/homework issue or some other immediate need to make a call while we are using the landline.
5. Although your phone has text messaging capabilities, we would prefer that you don’t text out. Incoming text messages are free, so if you receive them, don’t worry about it. If you text out, it will cost 25 cents for each message, which you will pay to us. Text messages are itemized each month on the bill. (NOTE: this was before everybody had smart phones and before “Unlimited texting” plans were the norm. I felt strongly about not allowing him to text constantly, and this strategy worked very effectively for a long time. We eventually got the unlimited texting plan.)
6. You have 8 ringtone credits left for one of the ringtone programs I downloaded to your phone. If you don’t find 8 right away, you don’t HAVE to use them all now; just wait until new ones come out.
7. I put one game on your phone. Any other games that you download (keeping in mind that you have limited memory that must cover all photos, games, and ringtones), you will have to pay for.
8. You may not use more than 400 minutes of calling per month.
9. Should you not be able to pay for any charges that you put on your phone, we will confiscate your phone until you can pay for them.
10. We will pay for the monthly service on the phone. That, along with the insurance on the phone, equals $15/month. We will consider that to be an allowance increase.
11. When school begins, we reserve the right to confiscate the phone if it becomes a distraction from your schoolwork, or if you abuse the privilege of having the phone.
We all signed this contract, and it was smooth sailing from that point on.
Any questions? Email me at melisawells(at)gmail(dot)com!