Giving a kid a mobile phone nowadays is a bit of a minefield, with plenty of aspects for parents to consider.
Fifteen years ago, the humble yet sturdy Nokia 3410 allowed pre-teens to send approximately five text messages before pleading with their parents for a credit top up.
We were advised not to give our number out to strangers, and told off for our annoying polyphonic ringtones. But on the whole, there wasn’t much to fear from the primitive communication bricks of the early noughiets.
Nowadays, kids are wandering around with unlimited data in their pockets, and the ability to communicate with anyone in the world at any time.
Understandably, many parents have their concerns when handing their kid their first ever phone, fearing they are gifting them a cursed box of cyber bullying, peer pressure and negative social influences.
However, as anyone who has ever been a teenager in the technological age knows, depriving them of a phone altogether isn’t always effective.
Indeed, this may lead to teens feeling as though their parents are deliberately marooning them on a desert island, and a highly uncool one at that.
But could it be that mummy blogger, Mel Watts has the answer? When buying a phone for her son Ayden, the mum of four drew up a full-blown contract, full of do’s and don’ts for the young lad to follow.
Mel published the strict contract on her blog, The Modern Mumma, and has sparked conversation among other mums and dads who just aren’t sure about how to approach their kids’ phone use.
According to this contract:
By agreeing to these terms and conditions, you understand at any point, you can and will have this phone removed from your hands and reassessment may be done regarding the rules and conditions.
1. You acknowledge that if phone is broken or lost, you are to replace it or fix it at your own cost. We have taken the responsibility to provide you with a top of the range screen protector and cover.
2. Always answer your parents’ calls. If you can’t answer, message us, call us when you can. If no contact is made, then we look for you.
3. Data – once you go over your data you don’t get any extra till you next data top-up.
4. No mobile phones in rooms.
The contract continues:
5. Mobile phone is to be given to parents before you go bed – at both houses.
6. Screen times apply. No messaging people before 7.30am, some people actually sleep in, strange huh?!
7. Follow the schools rules and policies for mobile phones.
8. Do NOT take photos, movies of people who aren’t aware. This includes strangers. Especially if someone asks you not to take image.
9. Do NOT upload anything on social media that you wouldn’t like being uploaded about yourself or your sisters. Or you wouldn’t want your mother or grandmother to see.
10. Don’t troll people on social media.
And the contract doesn’t end there:
11. Passwords and account names – accessible at all times. You change the password and we don’t know – IT’S GONE.
12. If you delete and purposefully hide things on your phone, social media or emails, you’ll lose the accounts.
13. Remember what you write and say. Writing something can come across completely differently to what someone might have meant.
14. What you post on social media is forever.
15. If you are being bullied – show us. Don’t hide it.
16. Understand your SIM card and use of our phone is a huge privilege.
17. Any violence, issues that cause us to lose trust in your will result in banned phone.
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A decade together and still the love of my life. We get lazy, we forget to kiss, we argue, we barely ever date night and sometimes you generally annoy the shit out of me when you want to talk budgets and house renovations. But it works. Because you’re still the one who gives me butterflies and makes me laugh until my belly hurts. You still have my back 100% and push me to be the best version of myself. Without you my life would be so different, without my determination to know what I deserved I would never have met you. For anyone reading this; – Don’t settle – you don’t always have to like them to love them. – It’s not always roses and rainbows, late nights and nights out. Sometimes it 830pm bed time and Netflix series – it’s amazing! – You don’t need date night to connect with someone weekly or monthly. You need to put down your phone and jump in the shower. Get your mind out of the gutter. – If you have secrets from them, it’s not going to work. @_nolanwatts I LOVE doing life with you!
After sharing the post on Facebook, Mel received a number of positive responses, including one from a secondary school teacher who praised her for taking responsibility:
This is amazing!! So nice seeing parents take responsibility!
I’m a secondary school teacher and the amount of damage I see caused my phones is crazy… social media bullying and trolling, kids not sleeping or doing HW coz they’re texting/phoning at all hours of the night… kids don’t know how to use them safely because no one has explained it fully to them and parents don’t take responsibility of something that is hugely dangerous like actually taking it off them before they go to bed!!!!!
Can have a huge impact on their mental heath too and it’s so sad to see! Well done you & all supportive parents.
Do you reckon Mel’s contract is the way forward?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications. When not Lad-ing about, she enjoys cooking, reading and trying not to fall over in Yoga.