I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 21, and the only internet access I had was a computer (on dial up!) in the living room. It wasn’t hard for my parents to know what I was doing. These days, children are given access to the internet and cell phones at an earlier age, and so as parents we need to be sure that we are protecting our kids.
When our daughter entered the youth group, I found myself in a new “zone.” We now had a child who was going places without us, and sometimes the time that we needed to pick her up, or the place, was an unknown. I wanted her to be able to contact me if she needed something, and so, a cell phone was put into her hands.
It wasn’t a smart phone–but it did give her the ability to get ahold of me. We laid some pretty hard and fast rules with it at first (no talking or texting boys, we would read all text messages, phone was given to us when she got home), but as she matured, we realized she needed her phone a little more often.
So, we sat down with our daughter and talked about the reason she had a cell phone and some of the rules that her daddy and I wanted her to uphold. However, we also felt like she was mature enough to come up with some rules that would be good for her.
So, we told her we wanted her to write a contract of sorts. She would write down the rules, and punishments, for her phone. We would read it, add to it (if need be) and then we would all sign it.
She did a great job with this. Here are the rules she came up with:
- No texting or talking to boys that Mom and Dad don’t approve of.
- No texting or calling after 9 pm (without permission and only if she needed to finish a conversation).
- Her phone would come down each night at 9pm and Mom and/or Dad would read through all texts and look at all photos.
- When the smart phone was gotten, all social media was also checked each night.
- No bathroom or bathing suit pictures.
- No passwords on the phone that Mom and Dad don’t have access to.
These rules were her ideas – but she came up with them after talking to my husband and I.
The more we thought, the more we realized we needed something similar for the internet. We moved all screens to the living room, and set up boundaries on screen time. Then, we sat down with each of our children and wrote up an internet contract. The rules of engagement were simple:
- Only go to approved websites listed in your favorites.
- If you need to google search, let Mom and Dad know so we can be in the room.
- No screens used outside of the common living areas.
- No more than 3 forms of social media.
- Mom and Dad must be friends or followers on all social media and have all passwords.
Why are these things so important? The Lord is clear in His Word that we should set no evil things before our eyes. That we need to be modest in our apparel. That our conversation needs to point others to HIM and not to ourselves. If we can’t have cell phones and use the internet for the glory of God, then we need not use it at all.
We want to teach our kids the importance of accountability–in all areas of life. There is nothing that is hidden from God, including our social media and cell phones. While it may seem these things are just ordinary, our kids need boundaries.
These are simple things we have talked about with our kids, and they have really helped them to use screens to their advantage, and not make them the central focus of their lives.
What about your family? How do you control the internet and cell phones in your house?
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