Deciding that your children are ready to have their own cell phone can be challenging. In this day and age a phone gives them access to all sorts of media, including a great deal most parents wouldn’t want their children to view. However, it is an invaluable tool to keep communication open no matter where your child may be. The key is setting certain ground rules so that you can feel comfortable with your child having this freedom.

The first rule that you may want to implement is that they are to never lock their phone so that you can’t access it. Having a password on the phone might be acceptable, but it is ideal that you always know what it is. One sure sign that they might be doing things they shouldn’t is if they try to prevent you from accessing the information inside.

You may also want to make it clear that you have the right to view what is in the phone at any time. This lets them know that you are watching what they are doing, within reason. This can help them to think responsibly before acting.

It is also a good idea to have your child ask for permission before downloading apps. While many apps are perfectly fine, there are others that are not safe for children to use. Some of these include dating apps and messaging apps that could lead to them talking to people they don’t know.

It is also a good idea to discuss that they should only be communicating with people they know in real life. It is important that they fully understand the risks and what have happened to other children that did not follow this rule.

You may want to enforce a rule that they are not to send videos or images of themselves to others. Images that contain any indecency can be considered explicit and children can be charged with a crime.

Downloading might need to be discussed as well. Downloading explicit images or bad files can lead to legal trouble or a virus on the phone.

If your child is of driving age, you will likely want to set the rule of no phone use while driving. Teens are killed each year due to phone use on the road.

It is also a good idea to discuss how to treat others kindly. Bullying via text messaging has become a major problem, inform them that it is not okay and what they can do if they become a victim.

Two last rules you will want to consider are internet usage and data usage. Inform them of what you think is and is not appropriate ways for them to use the internet. You should also be clear about what their plan provides as far as data, especially if you are on a shared plan or one where additional charges could be incurred.

The rules above are just a basic guideline. It, of course, is up to you as a parent to decide which ones you think are important and add to this list if need be. Just be sure that your children understand what your rules are going in so that they remain safe and are not confused about what is appropriate.

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