Parenting

A smartphone contract for our kids

The Lights at Stewart’s Place” Facebook page is normally about the Stewart family’s incredible Christmas light display. This past December they turned their whole house into a bright and brilliant light show that featured glowing brilliant colors dancing across their lawn, doors, walls, and windows, all of it synced perfectly to a half dozen Christmas songs. Most of their hometown, the city of Lynden, WA, probably passed by their house at some point in December to catch a look  (and you still can, via some wonderful videos on their Facebook page).

But in January, a couple of weeks after all the lights had been taken down, this same Facebook page featured a very different sort of post. Cameron Stewart shared a smartphone contract he’d come up with for his children. 

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Reformed Perspective: Where’d you come up with the idea for this contract?

Cameron Stewart: Our 12-year-old daughter was asking about getting a cellphone. We’d started her out on a flip phone and after a lot of prayer, we decided to give her a smartphone for her birthday. But I knew we needed a contract to spell out our expectations, and the dangers. So I came up with one. Some of the ideas came from various contracts and articles I found online but the bulk of it was things that were important to us. It has been adjusted various times and I am sure we will make more tweaks.

RP: How has it been helpful?

CS: We’ve been using it for a year now, and one thing that it really helped with is that it made our daughter understand how important her proper handling of her phone was to us. She knows we mean business. And she has done a great job.      

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SMARTPHONE CONTRACT

We are excited to know that we can trust you, and that you have proven that you are responsible enough to use a smartphone to communicate. In order for you to have a smartphone, there are a few things that you must agree with, and abide by.  

A smartphone is a communication instrument, and like every instrument, there are correct ways in which to use it.  Here are the instructions and guidelines that you, your mom, and I, will agree to in order for you to get a smartphone:

My responsibilities and understandings

A. I understand this is my mom and dad’s phone. They bought it. They paid for it.  They are letting me use it. Aren’t they awesome?

B. If it ever rings, beeps or vibrates and it says “mom” or “dad”, I will answer it or text back right away.  It is never ok to ignore a call or text from my parents.

C. I understand that nothing replaces face-to-face conversations. When I am in the company of my family and my friends, I will limit my smartphone use. I will show them that I value them by making them a priority over my smartphone.

D. It is ok to take my phone to school, but I must obey all the school smartphone rules. No one else is allowed to use my smartphone unless they need to make an emergency call to their parents. I will NOT give out my passcode.

E. On school nights the smartphone will be plugged in at 8:00 in the kitchen. On weekends my parents will grace me with another hour (9:00).

F. I understand that the world does not revolve around me.  I should always be looking for ways to serve Jesus and others.

  1. My texts, phone calls, pictures, and social media should be about others more than they are about me. I should never be looking to draw attention to myself.
  2. Selfies may not be sent or posted if they do not contain at least one other person. I understand that when I send pictures of myself I am SCREAMING to the world – PAY ATTENTION TO ME!  We all need to remember, it’s not about me ☺
  3. I will never post or send pictures of others without asking them for permission first.  This will keep me out of trouble with others, and save myself some future heartaches.
  4. I will not take or send pictures of my private parts.  My parents assure me that “while this may seem funny someday, some idiot will tempt you to do this. It is a terrible idea that could make your life miserable.  Cyberspace is bigger than you could ever imagine and once it is out there, it never goes away (think “screenshots”).”

G. I understand smartphones can be very dangerous to my safety if my information gets into the wrong hands.

  1. I will NEVER text, talk, or communicate with people I do not know.
  2. I will immediately tell my parents if someone is trying to contact me that I do not know, or I do not want to have contact me. If someone sends me something questionable/inappropriate I will not delete it but will shut off my phone and bring it immediately to my parents, or to a trusted teacher if it occurs at school. 
  3. I will not message, text or email ANY adult without my parents’ permission…even if it is for school, sports, music, etc.  Also, my parents will be included in the “group” conversation. 
  4. I will never give out personal information with my phone such as last name, birth date, school I go to, or even the city I live in. I will just stay on a first name basis, so no creep can track me down.
  5. I will never share my contact information with any boys!
  6. I will give out my information sparingly, even if for a school-related project.

H. I am never allowed to initiate conversations with boys for any reason, including homework. If a boy contacts me, I will immediately let my parents know, and we will work through the problem together.

I. I will be positive, encouraging, and uplifting with the things that I do with my phone. I will never gossip or talk behind people’s backs.  I will not use the phone to lie, fool, or deceive anyone.

J. I am not allowed at this time to use social media. Not at all! When I have shown that I am trustworthy, my parents may gradually let me use social media. I will give all account information to my parents.  This includes passwords.

L. If the phone is dropped and breaks, if it falls in the toilet, is chewed up by the cat because I left it laying around, or is taken by the boogie man, I am responsible for fixing or replacing it.

M. The smartphone may be taken away as a consequence for poor communication with my parents, not treating my siblings well, not keeping up my responsibilities around the house, poor performance at school, or any other reason my parents decide. I understand having a phone is a privilege, not a right.

N. Last, and most importantly if anyone sends me a text that is inappropriate, or someone gets a hold of my phone and does anything that does not seem right through my phone, I must immediately tell my parents. I understand that they will help me with this and that I will not be in trouble for what happened. I understand that my parents have more experience handling these sorts of things.

My parent’s responsibilities

A. We will always be willing to help you through any problem with your phone or the use of it.

B. We will always look first at any app or music you would like to download.

C. Anytime you come to us with texts, pictures, call, or social media that is inappropriate we will support you, not judge/condemn you.

D. We will monitor your phone all the time.   We can see everything you do on your phone – trust us ☺. It is our job to protect and take care of you, and we promise we will do it.

We are fully aware that at some point you will mess up, and your phone will be taken away.  Your mom and dad will sit down and talk about it with you.  Then we will all start over again.  Mistakes are part of learning, and remember it’s not so much the mistake, but it is how you deal with it.  We are on your team.

Signatures

Mom ____________________________________________________________

Dad   ____________________________________________________________

Me    _____________________________________________________________

Date_________________________


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