Monday, August 12, 2013

The Cell

The dance moms (I'm only an honorary member) formed a child will have a phone until her 13th birthday.  They shook on it and then caved en masse and promptly went to the local Verizon store to buy all their 9 year-old's cell phones.  For years Emma remained one of the few remaining un-celled.

After many repeated whining requests, but mostly in honor of all her hard work over this Summer, we too caved and decided to give our 11 year old a cell phone.  Two years prior to our promise to ourselves and to her that she would have a phone when she was 13, but two years AFTER most of the other dance moms and their broken there's that tiny victory. 

It's my old phone, but it's still a pretty sweet deal.  

There are all sorts of reasons why an 11 year old should have a cell phone.  And also a whole host of reasons (maybe more) why she shouldn't.  Emma's a pretty active kid, and she rides the bus home, and although a cell phone is not a will be pretty convenient her having it.  

We waited until Leslie got home from work and told Emma together.  To say she was touched would be a gross understatement.  We told her how proud we were of all the work she'd done.  We explained how even though sometimes it seems like all we see are the bad things, we've seen how hard she's worked all summer, volunteering, doing gymnastics and dance, CLO camp...she's exhausted every night, and we've both seen first hand how hard she works herself during the day.  We told her as soon as I'd copied her iTouch over to my old phone we'd give it to her.

Before giving it to her though, we wanted her to understand 'da rulez'.  I emailed her a copy and printed it out.  She read it out loud, happily and eagerly agreeing to each caveat, patiently listening as I explained what I'd meant as I'd written them.  

I tried to pull from various sources to come up with suggestions.  After comparing and contrasting them I added a couple, subtracted a few, and was left with what you'll see here. 

Many items copied, bastardized and adapted from the following articles:


Cell Phone Rules

My Responsibilities

I will:
  • Keep my phone charged at all times.  "My battery was dead" will never be an acceptable excuse for not answering an important phone call.
  • Always answer calls from my mother or father.  If I miss a call I will immediately call back.
  • Always obey my school's policies on cell phone use while at school, unless my parents' rules are more restrictive, in which case I will continue to follow them. 
  •  Immediately inform my parents if any of my friends or I am being harassed by cell phone, whether it is by text, call, email or social media.
  •  Alert my parents if I receive suspicious or alarming calls/texts/comments
    1.  unknown person (prior to replying)
    2.  harassing me or friends
    3.  embarrassing or inappropriate 
  • Know where my phone is at all times, and keep it in good condition
  • obey rules of etiquette regarding cell phones in public places. I will make sure my phone is turned off when I am in church, in restaurants, quiet settings or as requested by my parents.
  • hand my phone over to my parents when they wish it without argument, so that they can check the contents, email, social media and text.  "I forgot my password" will not be an acceptable response to parent's requests for access.
  • put my phone away when visiting with friends and family.
  • lose my phone if I fail to honor the terms of our agreement.

I will not:
  • send threatening or mean texts/emails/social media messages to others.  
  • take or share embarrassing or inappropriate pictures of myself or others.
  • use my cell phone to bully others.
  • participate in conversations where others are harassed or bullied.
  • text or place phone calls after 9 p.m.
  • bring my cell phone to the family dinner table

Some things to remember:

Don't post anything on social media or via email or text that you aren't willing to copy your parents on.  Don't say things on text/email/social media) that you aren't ready to say in person.  If the phone breaks or is lost, there will be no replacement.  If you want to replace or repair the phone you will have to pay for it.

happy kid
She has her phone at last.  She asked if there was anything she needed to sign, and I told her no, that her word was good with us.  I told her if she got confused she could always look at the copy I'd emailed her, and to ask us if she had questions.

We told her she'd have to use her money to buy a case, and when we drove to Best Buy, she purchased the absolute safest and most expensive cover she could find - three ply - with a screen protector under the screen protector.  She wants that phone SAFE.

Today she took her new phone to "work" volunteering.  This is her last week there, and she's sad to go.  We told her to take lots of pictures.  For the past two nights she's told us this is the best Summer that she's ever had.  She is a happy kid.


  1. I am glad you are teaching your daughter etiquette. I hate cell phones. They are a hot-button issue for me. Too many times I think parents rely too heavily on a cell as a safety device. Cells can break, can get stolen, may not have coverage in a particular area. The one time we needed to call 911, they couldn't find us via satellite and we had to drive our child to the hospital ourselves.

    I appreciate that you are teaching your daughter to use a cell respectfully. There's nothing that bugs me more than being with someone whose incessant texting tells me they would clearly rather be somewhere else.

    1. the texting thing is a ginormous pet peeve.

  2. I think I would fail to meet most of the terms of this contract, especially the "keep the phone charged" and "always know where it is" portions. I only wish there was someone to take the thing away.
    Well thought out. When does Lily get hers? ;)

    1. She's getting Emma's iTouch. She'll be thrilled with it since she likes looking at pictures and playing with "faces".

  3. Welcome to a whole new level of worrying about Emma. ;-) (I kid, I kid!!)

  4. You guys are doing it right.

    Keep on...

  5. Hahahaha! My kids will have cell phones when they can a) pay for them, or b) when they start driving. And if we're paying for them, they won't be smart phones and they'll only be for emergencies.

    Good for you for coming to your own terms about it, but we're personally anti-kids-having-cell-phones.

  6. Great contract. I am bookmarking it for future use, as I know that before I know it, we'll be hearing, "But Moo--oom...Daa-aad, EVERYONE has a phone but MEEEEE."

  7. Great list Jim! Definitely keeping track of this for future use. We went with the iTouch at 11. Have a feeling we'll probably cave and do a phone at 12.

  8. i like your rules...i'm going to steal them. we just got a sweet deal ($1) on an iphone for our 11 year old.

    he started getting calls late at night (which he never answered). i called the number back and left an irate dad message. i got a text from someone saying, "sorry, my fiance died of cancer a few months ago and i call his number to listen to his voice on the voicemail. i'll stop calling."

    1. ugh...that's sorta heart breaking....

    2. that's so sad-i miss my bestie who died some years ago and i did the same thing for several months until the phone was disconnected. Her house key is still on my ring, her info in my phone and her email in my address book.

  9. Having been newly initiated to parenting a teenager, I love these cell phone rules. Of course, our girl is 16 and already knows her way around a cell phone, but I really think some of the rules bear reiterating... just in case we should get any ideas. Thanks Jim!

  10. it's a great contract.

    my girl has been asking when she can get a cell phone for years. (she's going to be 12 in october) my best response to this is: 'you can get one the same time your older sister got one... when you're in 9th grade.'

    ...did i happen to mention her older sister is 11 years older? :)


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