The contract we’re making our kiddo sign before he gets a cell phone

Okay, so the way I see it, I basically have two choices with Holden. I can NOT get him a cell phone right now and he won’t be able to communicate with his friends in junior high because literally all of them have phones already, or I can get him a cell phone and TEACH him how to use it responsibly.

I know there are a lot of people who say wait until 8th grade, but unless you can literally get every single other parent in his grade to commit to that (bwhahahahahahhahahaha), that plan ain’t gonna work. And yes, I know cell phones come with bad shit. A lot of things do.

  • Is there bad shit on TV for our kids? Yes. But we let them watch it responsibly.
  • Is candy bad for our kids? Yes. But we teach them how to eat it in moderation.
  • Is cocaine bad for our kids? Yes. And there’s absolutely no upside so we don’t let them do it.

BUT there are plenty of upsides to getting your kid a cell phone. Like they can communicate with their friends and make their own plans, they can ride their bikes all over town and you can see where they are, they can stay in touch with you even when they’re teenagers and never in the same room as you anymore.

Of course, I know there are plenty of downsides too. So along with a cell phone, we’re also giving Holden something else. A contract. That’s right, buddy, no sign-y no cell-y. So here goes. The contract we’re making our kiddo sign before he gets a cell phone.


  1. I will always assume that anything I send in a text message will be seen by parents. My own and maybe somebody else’s.
  2. If my parents tell me to put my phone down, I know that means now. Not in 10 minutes, or 5 minutes, or however many minutes are left in whatever stupid game I’m playing.
  3. When I go to bed, my phone will NOT be in my bedroom. It will be silenced, turned off, and charged downstairs so it doesn’t keep everyone awake. Studies show that sleeping next to a phone is bad for my mental health. And so is having parents who are totally cranky because my phone kept them up all night.
  4. If I am with a real live person, they are ALWAYS more important than my cell phone. I might love my device, but my device will never love me back the way a human can.
  5. Before I ever push send on a text, I will read my message out loud in a neutral robot voice to make sure it can’t be misinterpreted. If I’m not sure, I will ask my parents first.
  6. I will not use my cell phone at school. I will not use my cell phone at school. I will not use my cell phone at school. I will not use my cell phone at school.
  7. When my parents put time limits on my apps, I will not cheat. It’s bad for my brain to spend too much time on certain apps, especially if my parents catch me and smack me in the head.
  8. I will never look at my phone while I’m walking down the street, riding my bike, driving a car, crossing an intersection, or going up and down stairs. I am in junior high, not a life-sized game of frogger.
  9. I will always answer my phone when my parents call. Not in two minutes when I’m done talking to someone else and likely to forget my parents called and make them stress out and dream up a million horrible scenarios of bad shit that happened to me.
  10. I will not take out my cell phone at the dinner table with my family. Or the lunch table. Or the breakfast table. Or a public restroom where it might fall in the toilet.
  11. I will always ask my parents two questions before I download anything that costs money. “Can I? and “How much do I owe you?”
  12. I will not join any social media apps without getting permission first. If I do, my parents have my permission to start putting up posts on my behalf, including but not limited to embarrassing baby photos of which they have PLENTY. 
  13. I will never EVER send inappropriate pictures or videos of myself or anyone else. If I am caught doing this, I can be expelled by school, arrested by the police, put on a national sex offenders list, or worse, caught by my parents.

PENALTY FOR BREAKING THE RULES ONCE: I lose my phone for 24 hours.


PENALTY FOR BREAKING THEM A THIRD TIME: I start losing body parts.


SIGNED: _______________________________

So he signed it. And we bought him a phone. He’s only had it for about a week now, but as you can see, he still has his limbs. So far.


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There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Christin Harding at 7:07 pm

    Stealing. This is most excellent.

  2. Mary at 7:16 pm

    I was in TEARS by the time I got to body parts… I love this. Good job Mama. <3 And best of luck.
    My two only ever had flip phones. Not because I was scared of the big bad smartphones (lol) but budget was mighty tight in a one-income household.

    They managed to get into plenty of trouble just fine. lol Having a phone, or not, isn't nearly as important as having parents who take the time to guide and teach and talk. Holden is a lucky kiddo. <3

  3. Raymona at 7:51 pm

    Very similar to the one we did years ago and seemed to be effective. Apple gives parents wonderful control capabilities too, even at 16 all her apps shut off at 10!

    • AB at 9:59 pm

      I have a 19 year old daughter and I have two 9 year old boys. Giving my daughter a smart phone in middle school was my single worst decision I made as a parent. I won’t be making that mistake with my boys. It was absolutely detrimental to her mental health. When the time comes for my boys, a contract is a great idea, that wont be for a long time I hope.

  4. Christina at 2:41 pm

    All good points! I would include to not contact anyone or answer any text that is sent from someone you don’t actually know. There are so many scammers/cat fishers preying on young children. Also make sure the password can’t be changed. Too many recent instances of disgusting individuals taking advantage of minors who don’t understand the consequences or are afraid to seek help and it ends badly.

  5. Barbara McNary Spindler at 3:28 pm

    There are limited “smart phones” a K-8 teacher was telling me about that has group chats, and limited amount of social media allowed. It’s designed for that younger crowd and the group chats are never anonymous so everyone knows who is saying what to whom. The biggest thing to her is that there are no nick names. Everyone is who they say they are so there’s no hiding behind anonymity. There are screen limits as mentioned above and limits who they can call as well. Socially, it allows the kids to feel included, and not left out of the social norms of cell phones these days. What you’ve done here is so fantastic! I hope it can go out to ALL parents with these VERY excellent rules to follow! Good on you, mama!

  6. Christi at 11:09 am

    Great stuff! Parents can review what says about phones, apps, monitoring, etc. We followed them and got a kid friendly phone for our tween that is LOCKED DOWN. Also we used their contract and it’s similarly worded.