I have been asked so many times what about our rules with cell phones for our children. I will be the first to tell you that we have in no way figured it out, and I have made many mistakes along the way. That said, I would also be happy to share what we are doing with our family to make this part of our lives a bit more manageable.
First of all, we don’t allow our kids to have phones or personal devices at a young age. We made the mistake of handing personal devices out at too young of an age and we regretted it. Now our go-to age for an iPod or phone without service is about 12-13 (although my 11-year-old does have one, yet he isn’t all that interested in it). I know there are 6-year-olds out there carrying their own cell phone (with service), and still the age just seems to be getting younger and younger for parents to be footing a cell phone bill for a child that is barely out of diapers, but for our family it just doesn’t make sense.
Our kids usually start off with an old iPhone with the service shut off. This is a great “starter” phone because in an emergency they actually could call 911 (even with no service), AND I have apple products myself and am very familiar with the way they work. Apple products are also a breeze to restrict and I can control a lot of variables to keep my kids safe. Another awesome thing about being a universally Apple family is that we can text and even call (using Facetime and Facetime audio) without any additional apps. We do, however, have some guidelines for their use. I go into more detail in my video below.
Restrictions that are made with the iPhone:
Under the restriction tabs (that is guarded with a parent only passcode) I make these modifications:
- Safari is restricted to only sites I approve
- The App Store is removed so they have to come to me to add apps (which I must approve)
- No multiplayer games where they can connect strangers
Anywhere I have the option to restrict explicit material I choose to do so
Restrictions that are made with our Disney Circle
- The internet for certain devices has a “bedtime” thanks to Disney’s Circle and internet is disabled during certain hours. I can also pause the entire internet, for certain people or for certain devices at anytime. #SWEET (yes, the word “sweet” is totally 90’s, but I am okay with that)
- This device also allows us to set time limits for certain sites like Pinterest, Netflix, YouTube. We had a problem of a certain child getting sucked into an app or two so we set time limits. When she hits those limits it cuts all of her devices off from that particular site/app.
- It also allows us to restrict any guest phone/laptop that enters our wi-fi network. So if your kids’ friends bring over a devise that is not restricted I can filter them with preset filters for PreK/Kid/Teen/Adult.
- You can also add “off times” if you would like their devices unconnected during the school day, dinner, family night, etc.
- I highly recommend the Circle- completely easy to use and I can change the settings from anywhere and get notifications if/when my children hit their time limits.
- PS this post is NOT sponsored – I purchased the Circle in January of 2017 and have been overall very happy with it!
Other trust-based guidelines
- I only allow YouTube on Laptops and they are to be used in public areas
- No social media (with some exceptions- I talk more about that in the video below)
- No YouTube (allowed on the laptops that can be used in public areas
- No texting the opposite sex (unless approved)
- I have to approve the people you want to text, skype, chat or communicate online with (just to ensure that they are only talking/interacting with children they KNOW)
- Parents must know all passcodes/passwords
- Device must be turned in at night until that privilege is earned by respecting rules regularly
- The internet in our home on those devices also has a “bedtime” thanks to (mentioned above).
When my oldest was a bit older (14-15) we turned on service to his device and he was allowed to text people of the opposite sex. He did still turn his devise into us at the end of every night, but as time went along we allowed him to keep it in his room with the expectation that if he chose to break any rules the phone would be taken away. All of our kids are reminded (ALL. THE. TIME.) that cell phones/personal devices are privileges, and if they do not handle the responsibility of them well we, as parents, have the right to revoke their use.
I’d love to hear what age you allow personal devices and/or cell phones and what your rules are in the comments!