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Parent/Child Mobile Phone Contracts, and General Digital Citizenship


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Posted (edited)

Welp, it's officially time for my eldest to get his first device. Wife and I are developing a contract that we will both sign along with him to outline appropriate use and principles of both mobile use and online identity. Has anyone else done this? Would love to compare notes on what has been included. Happy to share what we have once complete. 

Edited by -jb-
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5 minutes ago, AAABatteries said:

You’re going to make your kid sign a contract to get a phone?  Do you do this for other things?

Yes. No.

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I just told my son I have full authority to check his phone at any time. I dunno why he'd have to sign a contract for that.

That being said, he barely uses it. Kids text him and he doesn't respond for days lol. He got it for his 11th birthday.

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We did not do a contract for our two boys. But they are well aware of what their boundaries are and what they are not supposed to be doing.

We trust them until they make us not trust them.

 

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Not there yet but some things that I might want 

- must use a case at all times

- they have findmyphone equipped, and you agree not to snoop. This is for safety and to find a lost device not to track you. 

- if you call, they answer or text back within x time (30 minutes?) or they lose phone privileges 

- no inappropriate pictures because one or both of you could get in a lot of trouble 

 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, jobarules said:

I just told my son I have full authority to check his phone at any time. I dunno why he'd have to sign a contract for that.

That being said, he barely uses it. Kids text him and he doesn't respond for days lol. He got it for his 11th birthday.

A good portion of this exercise is about executive function. The adult world is filled with contract terms. This is a major step toward adulthood. Additionally, it's a great way to set expectations so that there is no grey area.

Edited by -jb-
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Nope. She was 12. Google required family link for her to even get one, so could control it if need be.

Doing a contract with a kid seems odd :shrug:

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  • -jb- changed the title to Parent/Child Mobile Phone Contracts, and General Digital Citizenship

We did this when my kids were born. My wife and I signed it and then we had the nurse paint their feet in the nursery and used that as their signature. 
I bet they didn’t even read it because they just wanted to get the boob in the mouth (they had to sign before that happened)

The best part is all the lawyer mumbo jumbo we included. Things like in perpetuity and upon their 18th birthday, they will be presented with a detailed invoice for diapers changed, meals eaten and clothes bought for them. They thought this was a free ride. Thank (insert whatever you believe in) we had that contract. 
 

Early retirement for us

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We gave both our daughters a phone when they entered middle school. They didn’t need a contract. We told them the rules. They understood you break the rules, you lose your phone at night when you come home. See we learned that talking the phone away while they were at school just negatively impacted my wife and I because we had no way to contact them if something came up during the day 

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1 hour ago, Dan Lambskin said:

Aren’t contracts with minors generally unenforceable?

Generally not enforceable in a court. In a home when the parent is the judge, jury and appellate court?  Definitely enforceable. 

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10 year old daughter has an iMac, iPad, iPod touch, and Chromebook. No iPhone yet. She does have iMessage and texts with her friends, but they mostly all just get on FaceTime at night and hang out. It’s like the group party calls kids (mostly girls) in my generation did. 


We trust her a whole lot with the Internet stuff. We’ve had conversations about appropriate content and appropriate behavior and about how what you put in digital writing is there for all eternity, so don’t be stupid.  In a year or two we’ll probably get her a phone, so she can go out bike riding etc with her friends and without grown ups but we can still be in touch. 
 

We did get her a GizmoWatch. It’s a pretty basic smart watch that lets you call a list of approved people, and them call you, and let’s us track her location. She never wears it, though she does have to wear it when not with us. We let her walk the dog alone for the first time recently and she wore it, was nice to be able to know where the heck she was. 
 

But yeah, no contracts here. 

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11 minutes ago, Otis said:

10 year old daughter has an iMac, iPad, iPod touch, and Chromebook. No iPhone yet. She does have iMessage and texts with her friends, but they mostly all just get on FaceTime at night and hang out. It’s like the group party calls kids (mostly girls) in my generation did. 


We trust her a whole lot with the Internet stuff. We’ve had conversations about appropriate content and appropriate behavior and about how what you put in digital writing is there for all eternity, so don’t be stupid.  In a year or two we’ll probably get her a phone, so she can go out bike riding etc with her friends and without grown ups but we can still be in touch. 
 

We did get her a GizmoWatch. It’s a pretty basic smart watch that lets you call a list of approved people, and them call you, and let’s us track her location. She never wears it, though she does have to wear it when not with us. We let her walk the dog alone for the first time recently and she wore it, was nice to be able to know where the heck she was. 
 

But yeah, no contracts here

And you call yourself a lawyer....

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1 hour ago, bigbottom said:

Generally not enforceable in a court. In a home when the parent is the judge, jury and appellate court?  Definitely enforceable. 

Yes but at that point do you really need a contract?

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My kids (12 & 14) have had phones for years.  We use screentime to limit their usage and what apps they are allowed to use.  We also use bark to monitor content (but rarely check it) and life360 for location tracking.

No Facebook, no Snapchat, no Instagram, no Twitter.  They use their phones to communicate with friends, play games, listen to music, and other misc things.  

They have a lot of freedom but are locked down pretty well at the same time.

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We didn't do an actual written contract, but I get why that might be a good idea for some.  Its not about a contract in a legal sense or throwing it in his face when he breaks the rules (he will), but more just forcing yourselves to sit down and think clearly about the guidelines you're setting up and agreeing to.  Its a big deal in most every teenage family I know. There will be disagreement and rule-breaking and probably disputes as to what was agreed to, so putting it in writing can be a good idea so you can be clear about what was and was not part of your agreement.  We got our son a phone in 8th grade.  At first we did monitor his text discussions - and of course he knew we were reading his texts as that was part of our agreement.  Our concern was mostly just bullying, respect for friends and particularly girls, and trying to be aware of any bad apples in his friend group.  He's now 16 and we've not been reading his communications for a couple years now.  I'm not sure that's even possible, as their primary form of communication is snapchat, but we don't have any need or desire to do that anymore anyway.  However, we do use the iphone screentime function to monitor and limit his use.  It should be obvious every kid is different and every family situation is different, so I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do it.  

One thing to keep in mind - we're complete dinosaurs. Tech trends move so quickly, don't even try to keep up - its a losing game. My son almost never uses his phone to make calls.  I'd be surprised if he makes or more than 1 or 2 phone calls in month.  Same with email.  He only texts with some adults, none of the kids use messaging/texting. You think you can just take the phone away, and that's the hammer that will keep him in line, but it doesn't work.  He needs the phone for school, its how his teachers, coaches, employer - all contact him.  When a neighbor needs our son to walk their dog or cut their grass, they text him.  When he was younger, we'd take it away for days or weeks at a time.  One time I got really mad, overracted, and kept his phone for a couple months.  There's no way we can do that now.  The most I'll do is take it from him when I know he's got homework to do or some chore around the house that he's putting off and I find him somewhere staring at his phone. The only way we've found to maintain sanity is to keep a few golden rules that he knows he can't break (phone stays downstairs, never in his room; cuts off at 10:00 during the week; we have his password; he has to answer our texts / calls; etc.) and otherwise just do our best to trust him and work with him on a mutual-respect level, as hard as that is some times.

 

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7 hours ago, irish eyes said:

Easiest solution is don't give your kid a phone. No need for it.

Our son's Junior High School recommends kids to have a phone. He also has to show his covid screening every morning he goes in.

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life 360.  we can look at the phone whenever we want.  parental approval for all apps.  i have access, via face recognition to all devices.  :shrug:  that being said, we trust her and rarely look.

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