Parenting Motivations #5 — Our first family cell phone agreement

three white ceramic pots with green leaf plants near open notebook with click pen on top

Son, congratulations on owning your first cell phone!

You’ve proven yourself mature and responsible enough for us to entrust you with this modern-day device.

Given that you have a new cell phone in your hands now, courtesy of your mom and me, we obviously trust you to make good decisions.

So why are we making you sign this lame thing that’s loaded with stuff you probably know already?

Well, let us get to the point.

What’s a cell phone really?

selective focus photography of person holding iphone displaying white screen
Photo by Terje Sollie on

A cell phone is more than a piece of technology.

If used well, it can be helpful especially in an emergency, and when used with good choices and judgment that will keep you out of danger or trouble.

But if used wrongly, it can be a weapon that puts your safety at risk. It may even put your reputation (and your family’s) at risk, in ways neither you nor I can see or predict.

You’ve always been a great kid, and we want to make sure you continue making smart choices.

The goal of this agreement is to make sure you’re always safe and happy. As your parents, we love you more than anything in the world, and we want to give you enough freedom and security to make the right choices.

It’s for your safety son!

We also want to maintain a direct and open line of communication with you at all times.

And so, we’re asking you to always use your phone for good and to ask for help from us or a trusted adult when you’re unsure, or in a situation where you feel scared or unsafe.

So here’s our family cell phone contract/agreement which we would like you to read through carefully, sign, and acknowledge before you start using your cell phone.

Think of it as a set of helpful guides we would like you to consider as you explore the many digital connections your cell phone will open you up to from now on.

Shared agreement on use of cell phone

crop businessman giving contract to woman to sign
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

There are two parts to this agreement that list down the responsibilities for the use of this cell phone.

The first part belongs to you; the second to us your parents.

Read them with care and feel free to let us know if you need anything clarified okay? If all’s good, please sign at the bottom of the agreement (we will too), before your journey (and ours) into your mobile connectivity begins!

1. Child’s responsibilities

I will always…


  • … answer or respond promptly when my parents contact me.
  • … understand that I am responsible for knowing where my phone is, and for keeping it in good condition.
  • … keep my phone in the study room on weekdays from 8.30 pm, and on weekends from 9.30 pm. I will not bring it to bed when it’s time to sleep.
  • … keep my phone charged at all times so as to be contactable when I’m not with my family.
  • … keep the phone’s usage within the plan’s monthly data, minutes or text message limits. If I exceed, I understand that I will be responsible for paying any additional charges or I may lose my cell phone privileges.


  • … alert my parents when I receive suspicious or alarming phone calls, texts or messages on any online platforms (including social media), from people I don’t know; or when I am being bullied or harassed.
  • … send no naked, embarrassing or offensive photos or videos of myself, my family or friends to others. In addition, I will not use my phone’s camera to take embarrassing photos or videos of others.
  • … avoid geotagging my posts or share locational information openly.
  • … avoid revealing addresses, phone numbers, etc. publicly online without permission from mom and/or dad.


  • … share IDs and passwords to my phone, and all online (including social media) accounts with my parents. They may use them to check my usage at any time.
  • … use my phone to buy or download anything eg apps or in-app purchases, ONLY after asking permission from my parents first.


  • …  avoid bringing my cell phone to family meals. I will not allow the cell phone to distract me from my homework or family conversations.
  • … obey the rules of etiquette regarding cell phones in public places. I will make sure my phone is turned off or put to silent mode when I am in church, cinemas, restaurants, libraries or other quiet settings.
  • … obey any rules my school has regarding cell phones, such as turning them off during class.
  • … use respectful and non-abusive language. I will not use my cell phone to bully another person or send threatening or mean texts or messages to others.
  • … seek permission before taking someone’s picture, and uploading or sharing it online.
  • … take down a post I made if my parents deem it inappropriate.

Consequences of not honouring this cell phone agreement

red and white stop road signage
Photo by Wendelin Jacober on


I understand that…

  • …having a cell phone is a privilege and if I fail to adhere to this agreement, my cell phone privileges may be revoked.
  • …I will pay for the cost of any damage to the phone due to my oversight, and/or for excess charges I incur without permission from my parents, depending on the circumstances.
  • …my cell phone may be taken away if I talk back to my parents, fail to do my chores, break house rules, or fail to keep my grades up or have disciplinary issues in school.

2. Parent’s responsibilities

We will…

  • …make ourselves available to answer any questions our son might have about owning a cell phone and using it responsibly.
  • …support our son when he alerts us to an alarming message he has received.
  • …alert our son if our cell phone plan changes and impacts monthly free minutes and data limits.
  • …give our son up to three warnings for violations of above agreements that happen within a span of between two and three weeks before I take his cell phone away until further notice or violations have been rectified.

Sign _________________________ [Mom & Dad]            Sign ________________ [Son]

Date __________________

{Above inspired by and adapted from various online sources, as well as the great parenting book for this digital era “Raising a Screen-Smart Kid” by Julianna Miner, which I previously reviewed}

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