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Help Parents Navigate Giving Their Teens and Pre-Teens Cell Phones

Thinking about getting your child a phone? A cell phone contract is something to consider.

Deciding whether to get your pre-teen or teenager a cell phone is a personal decision for each family. If you do decide to give a phone to your child, it’s recommended to discuss what are appropriate and inappropriate uses of the phone.

Some families use a cell phone “contract” or agreement, before giving a child/adolescent a phone. For those of you whose adolescents already have phones, it’s not too late to have these conversations!

Here is the cell phone contract I reviewed with my child who got their first phone this year. This example is very thorough – but consider creating a contract that works for your family.

Family Cell Phone Agreement

1.     I understand that the rules below are for my safety. I understand that my parents want to give me freedom, while also giving me enough security to make smart choices. 

Initial here: ______

2.     I promise that my parents will always know my phone passwords. I understand that my parents have a right to look at my phone whenever there’s a need for them to do so, even without my permission. 

Initial here: ______

3.     I will put the phone away promptly at XX:XX pm every school night and every weekend night at XX:XX pm. I will get it back at XX:XX pm. 

Initial here: ______

4.     I will not send or receive nude photos. Ever! I understand that there could be serious legal consequences that could put mine and my parents’ future at-risk. I understand that even if the person says they won’t share the pictures I can never be sure. 

Initial here: ______

5.     I understand that my behavior on my phone can impact my future reputation – even in ways that I am unable to predict or see. 

Initial here: ______

6.     I promise I will tell my parents when I receive suspicious or alarming phone calls or text messages from people I don’t know or even people I do know. I will also tell my parents if I am being harassed by someone via my cell phone. 

Initial here: ______

7.     When I am old enough, I won’t text and drive. I understand it’s very dangerous. 

Initial here: ______

8.     I will make an effort to learn phone and internet etiquette. I understand this is an extension of normal manners. I will turn off, silence, or put my phone away in public – especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking to someone else. I am not a rude person. I will not allow the phone to change this important part of who I am. 

Initial here: ______

9.     I will NEVER use my phone or social media to bully or tease anyone, even if my friends think it’s funny. 

Initial here: ______

I understand that this is NOT my phone and that it was paid for by my parents. Having this phone is not a right – it is a privilege that can be removed. As such, I agree to the above rules.

Signature: _______________________________________


Annie Gray, LICSW

Behavioral Health Consultant

Westwood-Mansfield Pediatric Associates

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