This past Christmas we purchased a cell phone for our 13 year old daughter (Ela), and added her to our family plan—including texting. (We blocked internet access.) Five years ago when we acquired phones for our two older daughters (now 22 and 20), texting was a small part of the culture; now it has permeated our culture. Because of this, we decided to write up a contract for our junior high daughter outlining our expectations for cell phone use—and texting in particular. Our daughter is quite responsible, and we’re confident that she will function well under these guidelines. But we thought it would be wiser to express our expectations up front than to attempt to “make it up” as we go. I share this “contract” with you in case you are a parent trying to figure out how to negotiate cell phone use—and texting in particular—with a middle-school-aged daughter. Feel free to use it, change it, send it, or ignore it. (This contract can also be used with a son if you make a few adjustments.)
We printed two copies of our “contract,” one for my wife Trudi and me, and one for Ela, and then each of us signed both copies. Ela also typed her contract into her phone (on her own initiative) for future reference.
Disclosure: I asked Ela for permission to post this before posting.
Family Phone Contract for [Junior High Daughter]
Following are the guidelines for cell phone use for [Junior High Daughter]. These guidelines are to be followed; but there can be exceptions if a specific case warrants it.
- If you break or lose the phone, you will have to replace it at your own expense.
- When you enter the house, the phone is to be placed in a charging station in the kitchen. It is to remain there when not in use.
- Texting is to be carried out in the public areas of the house. Texting is not to be done alone in your room or other places where you can be alone. Texting friends should not occur when you are home alone unless there is an immediate, pressing need.
- Texts are not to be erased before the passing of one month. The understanding is that these texts can be checked if there is any concern by a parent about what is being communicated on the phone.
- There is a half hour texting/phone conversation limit per day. This can be extended if there is a legitimate reason, but only with permission from a parent.
- Texting is to be completed before 8:00 p.m. This limit also can be extended with permission from a parent if there is a legitimate reason.
- You do not have permission to text anyone who is not in your phone directory.
- To add someone to your phone directory, you need to first obtain permission from a parent.
- If you need to text a boy, you first need to obtain permission from a parent before sending the text. If a boy texts you, you need to obtain permission from a parent before you reply to the boy.
- You should in general give priority to a person who is with you over someone who wants to text you. In other words, you are expected to show basic courtesy by not texting, for example, while eating a meal with someone.
We have read and understand these guidelines and agree to work within these parameters. We agree together that the use of a cell phone is a privilege rather than a right, and that this privilege can be restricted or taken away if the phone is not used responsibly. Furthermore, since it is a privilege rather than a right, we agree that the use of the phone can be restricted or taken away for any other reason deemed legitimate by the parents. We agree together to work toward mutual cooperation in the use of this cell phone since we value our relationships with each other. We understand that this agreement can be modified at any point by the parents if it becomes necessary to do so.
_____________________ _____________________ ____________________
[Daughter’s Name] [Father’s Name] [Mother’s Name]