Phones are taking over the world! It’s starting to get younger and younger that our children are asking to have a cell phone. When is the right time for your child to have a phone? How do you even go about setting boundaries and talking about responsible cell phone ownership? Here are a couple of helpful tips on how to begin talking to your kids about having a cell phone.
Let’s first focus on the bigger picture. You know your child and what they can handle. And you also know how they work and operate. Would having a phone or even sharing a phone be a good thing for them right now? What would be the benefits of having this responsibility? Are they impressionable by worldly things? How mature are they? Answering these questions could help you determine if it’s the right time and what sort of boundaries to put on this device.
Talk together about expectations of screen time. Have some dialogue together. Figure out what the purpose of having a phone is. Maybe it’s to communicate when someone is running late to school pick up. Maybe it’s so that they can start to have communication outside of school to talk to their friends. Figure out the purpose and then begin to dialogue about establishing phone rules. You might have some great ideas, but here are a few additonal:
- Leaving the phone outside of the bedroom at night.
- Creating daily or weekly screen time limits
- Open access to see texts or DM’s
- Ask permission to download new apps
- Do not share personal information
- Your device is a privilege to have, not a right.
Set boundaries and have accountability. One of the dangers of having a phone is the lack of accountability and the things that a student may have right at their fingertips. Think about what level of maturity your child has and figure out the best plan of protection for them. There is a lot of software out there that sets restrictions on cell phones. Don’t be afraid to enforce boundaries on the phone. This teaches them responsibility and creates healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Teach your children to have discerning eyes and ears regarding media. Hold their questions up to God to decipher if this is for God or against God. What music are they listening to on their phone? What language are they using to text? What kind of pictures are they taking or looking at? Are these specific things honoring to God? Have open communication so that you can figure out these things together.
Your kids are growing up right before your eyes. Giving them a chance to dialogue with you about stepping into this new responsibility will help create open communication that will last a lifetime. Go to God in prayer to figure out when the right time for your child to have a phone is and what kind of boundaries and accountability go along with cell phone ownership.
Director of Ministry Development