Establishing Cell Phone Rules For Teens

Help Your Teen Learn How to Use Technology Appropriately

Create cellphone rules that will keep your teen safe.
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Establishing cellphone rules for teens can be a little tricky. After all, most parents didn't grow up owning a cellphone so knowing what's appropriate and what isn't can be a challenge. Technology also changes so quickly that it can also be hard to keep up with what teens are up to these days on their phones.

Although it can be convenient for teens to have cellphones, it can also lead to a lot of problems.

Teens can get themselves in trouble with smartphones in a variety of ways.

Establish clear rules for cellphone use to discourage misbehavior. Although the rules should be specific to your family’s values and your teen’s needs, here are some cellphone rules you may want to consider adopting in your home:

No Cellphone Use Before School

Start the day off right by preventing cellphone use in the mornings. Most teens don’t have enough time in the mornings to waste time texting or talking on the phone. At the very least, restrict cellphone privileges until your teen is ready for school.

Follow the School Rules 

Make it clear that you expect your child will follow the school’s cellphone policy. Different schools have different rules, so investigate the policy at your child’s school.

Make sure that your teen isn’t going to be distracted from his work because he’s texting or that he won’t be using social media while he’s in class.

Support the school’s discipline policy, and abide by the consequences.  

No Cellphones at the Dinner Table

Create an atmosphere at the dinner table that invites polite and friendly conversation. Don’t allow anyone to text message or reply to emails while you’re eating. Help your children learn appropriate cellphone etiquette.

No Cellphones During Family Time

Stress the importance of interacting with one another in-person. Make it clear that during family activities, cellphone use is prohibited. Whether you’re visiting with extended family or you’re playing a game of catch, discourage bad cellphone habits, like ignoring friends to text someone who isn't present.

No Cellphone Use During Homework

Replying to text messages or keeping up with social media can be a huge distraction for many teens while they’re doing their homework. Set limits on cellphone use during homework time, especially if your teen’s grades are suffering.

The Cellphone Must be Turned in Before Bedtime

There really isn’t a good reason why a teen would need his phone during the wee hours of the morning. In fact, teens who keep their phones in their rooms at night are likely to respond to text messages or social media updates. 

Sleeping with a smartphone in the bedroom interferes with sleep. Establish a rule about what time the phone must be turned in and give your teen time to unwind before he goes to bed.

When you remove their phone privileges at night it can also help your teen socially. A teen who is able to say to peers that he can’t reply to messages during the middle of the night because you have his phone, is less likely to be subjected to criticism from peers about not responding to them during the middle of the night.

No Cellphone Use While Driving

Unfortunately, many teens get into fatal car accidents because they were replying to a text message while driving. Help your teen problem-solve ways to reduce temptation to use the phone while driving.

The best solution is usually to shut off the phone while driving. At the very least, consider installing a smartphone app that prevents texting and driving.

No Cellphones in Bedrooms

Many teens just aren’t ready to handle the responsibility of having a cellphone in their bedrooms. They may not be able to resist risky behavior such as sexting or downloading inappropriate content.

Restricting your teen from using his phone in his bedroom can seem extreme, but for some families, it can be a way for teens to learn and practice safe and appropriate cellphone use. One they’ve gained the skills and trust necessary, parents can allow them to have their phones for small periods of time in their rooms. When teens violate trust, establish a behavior contract that describes how they can earn their privileges back.

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