Our youngest Lucas just turned 11. For our other kids that milestone means you get a phone. He is of course excited and has been looking forward to it. My wife is due for an upgrade to the iPhone 6 so he will get her old phone. Lucas and I attended a 4 night course at our church on his moving to adolescence an on to middle school. At the final class tonight they shared an idea I wish we would have heard before and implemented with our older kids now 15 and 17 .
It is a Cell Phone Agreement with the child to place clear limits on usage. A simple search will produce many options for you and here is the one we are using. Both the parent and the child sign it so their is clarity up front. The goal is for them to have unlimited access and zero restrictions by the time they leave the house. The reality is they are not ready to have unrestricted access at a young age. The same applies for tablets. What limits do you put on your children?
One key item to establish is what time the phone will be out of their hands and out of their room. Having a break – that is huge when they are young! Some kids are getting a iPad at 3 and a phone at 5! Very important to get clarity on up front. Of course they will whine that their friends don’t have to do that! As they grow up you can adjust the agreement and they gain more freedom.
The agreement states – For now, what you do on your phone is not private. To help you make wise decisions we will have access to the following….Lucas is 11 and needs the guidance that this agreement will provide. I like that the agreement states they cannot delete their internet history or texts and they understand you will check them weekly. Make it clear they will not get in trouble for something “inappropriate” that someone sends to them. They are not responsible for what they receive.
With summer break rapidly approaching I also want to continue to be the parent to limit their time on game consoles like XBOX or PS3. What limits do you put on games? Those games are amazing on a big screen and it is easy for 30 minutes to turn into three hours. I just did a search about getting a timer to somehow limit it. I found something amazing I did not knew was an option. On the XBOX site they give simple instructions to manage access for how long each person can play per day or per week! Isn’t that fantastic! It will be much easier than keeping track of where they are and telling them to get off. You will find the information here.
I think the phones, tablets and game consoles are addictive and getting more so every year. This generation is plugged in too much and many lack basic personal relationship skills. The new virtual reality headset from Oculus is now available and as it develops it will be another game changer. The games will only get more immersive and addictive. Consider how much access your kids have to this technology and start as early as possible!