As your child transitions into a teenager, they’re going to want a little more independence and privacy. When it’s finally time to offer them these privileges you know that it’s time for a cell phone.
Giving your teenager their first phone is exciting for them but stressful for you. All of their communication is private now and you have less control over their habits.
As a parent, you have to establish cell phone rules for teens. They might not love them, but the rules exist for their safety and concentration. While we no longer see the online world as the dark and scary place it used to be portrayed as, teens are still children and need boundaries to keep them safe.
Keep reading to learn all about establishing rules for teen cell phone use and some of our most helpful favorite rules.
Why Do Teens Need Cell Phone Boundaries?
Teenagers need boundaries in general. While they resist control, it’s proven that teens thrive when given clear boundaries. That doesn’t mean they’ll be happy about them.
Cell phone boundaries are important. There are documented negative effects associated with the overuse of cell phones for teenagers and adults alike. Setting restrictions early on can help your teenager learn healthier habits to mitigate future issues.
Cell phone addiction is a real problem and your teens aren’t exempt. The stereotype of teenagers constantly checking their devices is accurate. This addiction can result in several mental health problems like depression, OCD, and increased anxiety. These aren’t good for your child’s developing mind.
Your child may experience trouble sleeping from the blue light of the cell phone, hindering their school performance.
Aside from addiction problems, excessive social media use is associated with poor self-esteem and teenagers access these platforms on their phones. Teens, who are already insecure, don’t need the added stress of excessive scrolling through “perfect” influencer feeds.
For younger teens, you also face the risk of child predators. So what kind of rules can you establish to help curb these issues?
1. No Phone Use at Bedtime
Staying up on the phone all night is the new “sitting under the covers with a Gameboy”. They’ll be sneaky about it, but they’ll only be hurting themselves.
Some teens are more regimented than others. They understand that they need sleep to perform well during the day. Others…not so much.
Teens who don’t want to silence their phones for the night may need to have them temporarily taken away until they’re ready to obey. You can also set phones to have predetermined usage times that you can monitor.
2. No Phones During Family Meals
Often, dinner time is the only time that the family gets to spend together. Once teens want that precious independence they’re more likely to want to spend time with their friends or alone in their rooms after they’re finished with school and homework. This is normal.
Because of this, though, that mealtime should be respected as family time. As such, there should be no phone use.
This is proper etiquette, but to get your teen to obey you need to model this behavior. Avoid taking work or personal calls or emails during dinner. It’s a short period of time.
Again, this may be a time where you have to remove the phone from your child. They’ll put up a fuss but it’s worth it until they learn to behave.
3. No Cell Phones In School
Most schools have rules about cell phone use. Some allow it in the cafeteria or during free times while others don’t allow phones at all.
We recommend that you don’t take your phone away from your teenager to enforce this rule. Phones are useful for emergencies and events where they need to get in contact with you.
If your teenager misses the bus home, or school gets out early for bad weather, they may need to contact you.
Instead, this is a time to use teen monitoring software if you suspect cell phone use during school. If you catch them, restrict their use by limiting screen time manually.
4. No Cell Phone During Homework Time
Your teenager will thank you for this one later, but they’ll probably resist it at first.
It’s easy to lose time just by scrolling through Instagram and Facebook on the phone. Before you know it, it’s time to go to bed while homework sits, unfinished, on the table.
Your teenager will have to lose sleep or rush in the morning to complete their work. This isn’t ideal.
Enforce the “no phone” rule while your teen is doing their work. This will accomplish a few things. Your teen will be able to concentrate and work through things more efficiently. They’ll also be motivated to finish their work faster so they can get their device back.
This is difficult. Phones do have uses during homework or study time. Teens can use their phones as calculators, planners, and more. They can look up information to help them with their work. It may be best to block certain apps or websites to ensure that your teen is using their device for work instead of leisure.
If this is ineffective, they lose the phone and may have to use real calculators or the family computer.
Tips for Enforcement
Teenagers need boundaries, but these boundaries need to be set ahead of time, not inflicted on them without warning. This will help them learn to navigate rules and understand why they’re being set.
Here are some tips to help your teen follow the rules. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. Your teen might forget a rule or a consequence. It’s your job to guide them using these tips:
- Write rules down (Download Free Cell Phone Contract for Teens and Tweens)
- Explain why the rules are there
- Explain levels of consequences ahead of time
- Model good behavior
By following these tips you’ll be establishing healthy boundaries with teenagers that are less likely to create resentment or confusion.
Cell Phone Rules for Teens Are Important
You might feel like a villain for enforcing cell phone rules for teens, but these rules will give your teenager a healthy start to their less restrictive technology use.
Rules and boundaries will shift over time as your teenager matures and has different needs. Talk with your teen about responsibility and privileges that come with time.
If you want a safe and effective way to monitor your teen’s internet and cell phone use, we want to help. Family Orbit establishes parental controls and restrictions that can help you enforce the rules that you’ve set for unruly teenagers. Visit our site for a 7-day free trial and see how we can help you.