With Christmas passing, I saw another wave of parents buying their children and teenagers cell phone. Some did a great job preparing their family for this moment, while others are already dealing with the issues poor planning can cause.
As a youth pastor, I have sat across the table from too many parents and teenagers (and even elementary school students) who made foolish mistakes with digital technology. Parents always say “I didn’t think it would be my kid”. And students regularly say things like “I ended up there by accident…but can’t stop looking now” or “I didn’t think I would ever send something like that…I don’t know what I was thinking”.
If you have not yet giving your children a cell phone I beg you to pause and plan.
Set expectations before you buy:
I believe the majority of friction between parents and children is caused by unclear expectations. Sometimes it’s parents not communicating well, sometimes it’s children hearing what they want, and often it’s husbands and wives not being on the same page. No matter what the normal cause in your home is make sure you know what is expected if your child has a smart device and do your best to communicate those expectations up front. If you and your spouse are not on the same page then WAIT before getting your child a device. It’s unfair for you to put them in the middle and make them try to keep you both happy.
Be strict on day 1. It’s always easier to loosen expectations then it is to tighten them!
Here are some questions to help you form expectations for your child:
1. Will they need to grant you access to see their phone whenever, wherever, for whatever reason?
2. Will they be allowed to have their phone in their room at night? Do they need to turn it in at a certain time?
3. Will they be allowed to have their phone in school? …at the dinner table? …at Church? …At Grandma’s house?
4. Who are they allowed to contact with their phone?
5. Will there be data limits they need to stay in?
6. What happens if they lose or break their phone?
7. What consequences will they have if they break your expectations?
8. How will you communicate these expectations with your child?
This is not an exhaustive list, but just enough to get you thinking. Now go talk to your spouse to set exceptions.
What other questions are important to consider? Comment below.