Mom Life

My Teen Has a Cell Phone. Now What?

July 2, 2019

My Teen Has a Cell Phone. Now What?

Today I wrote my first “Teen Cell Phone Contract”. Yup, next year my daughter is off to middle school and my husband and I agreed to get her a cell phone. Let me be clear, I do not believe that cell phone privileges are granted based on age or grade level. In my opinion, cell phones are for those who have proven to be responsible and trustworthy. My daughter is both. However, she can not possibly know how much trouble a tiny piece of equipment can get her into. So my goal is to scare the CR*&P out of her. Just kidding. Not kidding. But seriously, as her parents, it’s our job to make her more aware of how much responsibility comes with a cell phone.

Example of a Cell Phone Contract

As mention, step one for me was to write a teen cell phone contract. I made it clear that this was a contract to be taken seriously. One with real consequences if not followed. A big tip when creating your own contract…be prepared to follow through with the outlined punishments. No idle threats.

The contract is just the beginning. I plan on having lots of conversations, ask tons of questions, and remind her of the cell phone etiquette rules when she begins to slip.

How to Set-Up Parental Controls on IOS and Android Phones

Parental controls are your best friend. Not only will they prevent your child from accidentally (or not) spending hundreds on pricey apps, protect them from adult content they’re probably not ready for, but it also gives them more freedom to use their phone without an annoying parent hovering over their shoulder. We get some peace of mind and they get a bit more freedom.

If they have an iPhone click here for step by step instructions on how to set the following controls.

All of the parental controls available on an iphone

To learn how to set parental controls on an Android click here.

Teen Cell Phone Monitoring App for Kids

No one wants to have to depend too heavily on parent monitoring apps. The goal should be to teach our kids how to be responsible adults by having open and honest conversations. I hope that educating my kids on internet and cell phone etiquette and laws will prepare them to make smart choices. However, the stakes are high and the rules are constantly changing so perhaps a little monitoring could help us understand where we’ve lapsed in our judgment and education.

Youtube Kids App

I love YouTube just as much as my kids do. My children and I have spent plenty of rainy days watching everything from craft videos to ping pong tutorials to Dude Perfect videos. However, we all know how quickly unrelated and sometimes inappropriate content can land in their lap. This is why I love YouTube Kids App, it’s a free app that allows you to customize your kid’s individual experience. You can decide what content to make available for them to watch, monitor their screen time, check their viewing history, block videos or channels and more. Selecting the age of your child determines what content will be available to them and you can create up to eight individual profiles.

Screen shot from YouTube Kids app showing how to you can tailor content based on your child's age
YouTube Kids App

MamaBear App

We have decided to delay all social media until she proves she can handle the responsibility of a cell phone. But when she is ready Mamabear App will likely be our social media monitoring app of choice.

screen shot fro Mamabear App showing how you can monitor social media

Mamabear’s free features include; Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook activity monitoring. You’ll know when they have new tags, check-ins, or upload photos. By building a restricted word list you find out when inappropriate language or indications of bullying are posted to their profiles. Mambear also allows your child to send you a panic alert and has a family map that lets you know where they are at all times. For an added fee you can also monitor your child’s text messages (Android Only).

I hope this preliminary guideline is useful and I promise to update this post as I learn from our experiences.

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