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.
CELL PHONE CONTRACT FOR KIDS
- I will always assume that anything I send in a text message will be seen by parents. My own and maybe somebody else’s.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I will always ask my parents two questions before I download anything that costs money. “Can I? and “How much do I owe you?”
- 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.
- 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 TWICE: I lose my phone.
PENALTY FOR BREAKING THEM A THIRD TIME: I start losing body parts.
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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