Cell Phone Rules of Engagement


We made it 12 years phone-free before we finally gave in and acknowledged the need to get our oldest child a phone. I know that every family does things differently according to what makes sense for them, but for my husband and I, we were committed from the beginning to delaying the introduction of a cell phone to the lives of our children for as long as possible (our younger child still doesn’t have one, which she is all kinds of salty about).

We have our reasons for this commitment, but that is not super relevant to the conversation at hand, and, honestly, doesn’t matter as I don’t feel inclined to tell anyone how to raise their children. However, our current reality is one in which our oldest is starting to do things more independently, including some babysitting work as a mommy’s helper and walking to and from school without an adult.

While I stubbornly wanted to hold onto our phone-free life for a while longer, the reality is that it was time.


In my opinion, though, that doesn’t mean it needs to be a free-for-all. As much as I want her to be able to get in touch with me should she need to do so while out in the world, it was very important to both her dad and me to set some boundaries. Enter what we have deemed our “Rules of Engagement” for owning a cell phone.

After posting these “rules” online, I had a tremendous response from my fellow parents who were taking screenshots and asking to steal them for use with their kids. So, in the spirit of “it takes a village,” I figured I would share them here. The fact is that many of us are raising our children in a world that is vastly different from the one we grew up in. I, like many of you, am very much figuring this out as I go along. 

Contract of Use: Rules of Engagement for Phone

  1. No social media apps/accounts.
  2. No apps may be added without approval of BOTH Mom and Dad (Preapproved list: Gmail, Amazon Music, FaceTime, Disney+, Netflix).
  3. Mom and Dad must know the password and be able to access the phone as needed.
  4. Contacts for texts and calls must be approved by Mom or Dad (include preapproved list).
  5. No phone at the dinner table (including restaurants).
  6. Phone must be turned off during church, practice, and school hours.
  7. Phone charger will remain downstairs and be charged overnight while you sleep.
  8. Restricted phone use during holidays and family events (it gets put away if Mom or Dad tells you to put it away).
  9. Maintain an awareness about how much you are choosing phone interaction over friend interaction when out at social events.
  10. We will trust first, however, if you are noted to be demonstrating an addiction to your phone, we reserve the right to implement a check-in/out system for use of the phone.
  11. Care for your phone is YOUR responsibility. We will have insurance on the phone, but you will be responsible for the deductible and repair fees.

Copy these rules, adapt them, and utilize them as you find it helpful to do so!


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