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So, you’re thinking of getting your pre-teen a cell phone? Read through this cell phone etiquette guide first!
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We were those parents who said we’d never get our kids a cellphone – at least not until they could pay for it themselves.
Then our daughter went to middle school. Life had changed more than I thought it would. There were after school clubs, group projects, and many more friends.
We went through most of the year without a cell phone, but I found her becoming more reclusive, and avoiding joining clubs or even getting together with friends. Perhaps, I thought, it was because her friends had easier ways to communicate with each other and their parents.
After much consideration, we decided to set up my old phone for her use. The hope was that she would find comfort in being able to contact me about after school activities. It would also make working in group projects easier to coordinate. Using an old out-dated phone meant she would also be limited in how she could use it.
When it comes to giving your pre-teen a cell phone though, there are certain rules they should and you should follow.
Mom and Dad have full access to everything on the cell phone
This one is a must. For your kids safety, and your knowledge, you need to know what they are using the phone for. There are many ways to limit what they can use the phone for, but kids have a way of finding new ways to use electronics.
At the end of every day, I take a moment to read through any texts that were sent that day. I also check her call log, and safari tabs.
No deleting phone numbers/messages
I quickly discovered that after each phone call she made or received she would delete the number. We discussed that she needs to leave the call log alone, so I can see who may be calling her. After getting a number of spam calls, she understands that this helps me keep her safe.
She also had no idea that that is what she was doing when she swiped the number away. While I hope she also hasn’t been deleting any text messages, this one is harder to keep tabs on. Discuss with your children the importance of knowing who and what they are texting.
Keep the Cell Phone out of the Bedroom
My number one rule with a pre-teen owning a cell phone is that it must stay out of the bedroom. Conversations behind closed doors, and facetime with friends don’t need to be held in private at this age.
On top of the privacy concern, allowing a phone in the bedroom can really mess with pre-teens body clocks. They may spend many hours up in the night texting friends, playing games, or watching videos. Make it priority from the start to keep electronics out of the bedroom, including tablets.
Set aside a place for all electronics, including Mom and Dad’s phones to be during the night. We bought a multi-use charging station where all electronics go at night. By setting the example
At School, keep it in the locker or turned off in the backpack.
The main reason any pre-teen should have a phone, is to stay in contact with their parents. This means, when they are at school, the phone doesn’t need to be used. In fact, it shouldn’t be used during class. Encourage your pre-teen to either turn their phone off or keep it in their locker
I once texted my daughter to remind her of our after school schedule. She got upset with me because it was during her math class. Turns out, though, it was in her locker the whole time. She was more upset she had missed my text, lol.
Keep Tabs on Data and Internet access.
If your pre-teens cellphone is going to have data and internet access make sure it is set up so you can keep tabs on it. Discuss with your child what uses data, and how much it costs. You don’t want to get a bill at the end of the month with unexpected charges.
Read more about Teens and Cell Phones: What’s a Mom to Do? from The Good Stuff.