If it hasn’t happened yet, it will.
Your tween/teen is asking for a phone.
They say all their friends have one. They tell you it will work as their alarm clock and you can get ahold of them easier throughout the day. They are even willing to wait to get it for their birthday...next week!
Smartphones are now a part of growing up. But when is your tween/teen ready?
Here is a 6 Point Checklist You Can Follow to Determine When:
1. Your Tween/Teen Does Regular House Chores, With Excellence
Determining your teen’s readiness for a phone is about determining their own personal responsibility. Chores are a great way to evaluate this.
Everyone in the house is responsible to contribute. At minimum, cleaning up after themself and not having someone else do it. But more importantly, contributing in meaningful ways to the household. (see chore suggestions below)
Being responsible doesn’t just mean doing chores, it means doing them with excellence...without asking….without arguing...without reminders.
Will they forget from time to time? Sure, that is human. But if your teen cannot be responsible for doing their weekly/daily chores, they likely will not be responsible with a smartphone.
2. Your Tween/Teen Does Their “Job” In School
As we like to say here at ParentingModernTeens.com, one of your teen’s “jobs” is to perform well in school.
It is important that you have spoken with your spouse/co-parent to determine what the required standard, and to hold your teen to that standard. Take time to sit down and communicate this standard to them.
3. Your Teen Handles Stress and Frustration in a Healthy Manner
Think about a recent time that your teen faced difficulty. Did they handle it well? Did they meltdown and become irrational? Are their regular angry outbursts?
Studies and surveys have been playing catch up with technology for decades and some striking results are in for smartphones. Phones can lead to depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts. (see links below)
This is the device that will be in your teen’s possession 24/7, so they need to know what a healthy and balanced lifestyle looks like so that they can be held accountable to live that way.
4. Your Teen Practices Excellent Communication With Your Family
Putting a phone in your teens hands is giving them access to a 100% uncensored world. Your teen will likely be exposed to the most vulgar language, an overwhelming amount of information, graphic scenes, pornography, endless communities promoting different values, LOUD opinions, suicidal ideation, evil, and cyberbullying.
When you speak to your teens about these important issues, do they communicate maturely with you?
If your teen is going to thrive with the world’s most powerful device they need to be able to communicate with their parents about what is going on.
Do you struggle communicating with your teen? Does communicating often lead to fighting? See www.ParentingModernTeens.com, our Family Coaches work with families every week that have a tough time communicating. Check out our FREE webinar “How to Get Mature Teens Without Yelling, Stress, or Grounding”.
5. Your Tween/Teen Balances the Electronics In Their Life Well
iPad, TV, video games, computer, Netflix, social media - is your tween/teen balancing this well?
This is a key factor to predict your teen’s relationship with their own smartphone.
I was recently in a coaching phone call with a parent and they were describing their son’s addiction to Minecraft. The mom said to me, “MineCraft is my son’s entire life!” For this tween, more than family, more than friends, more than going outside - he choose MineCraft.
This tween’s lifestyle is clearly out of balance. It took over a month of coaching the parents and the tween before the family was able to help the teen develop a healthy life balance.
6. Your Tween/Teen Knows the Phone Is A Privilege For "Doing Their Job"
This is one of the key and most important factors for a teen to get a phone. They are not entitled to have a phone.
You may decide that your tween/teen is ready for a smartphone, but that does not mean it is a “done deal”.
As a parent, you will continue to teach, guide, set limits, and, potentially, take the phone if they stop doing their job. The phone is a privilege to have.
If they are doing their responsibilities and these 6 things well, it means that your tween/teen is ready for a phone.
But make sure you have a plan ready for if that changes with the phone. Think of it as a probation period with a plan of how you are going to check in. 30 days, 60 days, 6 months - check their chores, grades, stress and frustration, and balance between electronics and responsibilities.
What are some of your ideas to determining if your teen is ready for a phone? Comment and let’s discuss.
At ParentingModernTeens.com, we are here to serve you and your family! Check out our FREE webinar “How to Get Mature Teens Without Yelling, Stress, or Grounding”.
Need some suggestions on age-appropriate chores? Check out these articles:
Smartphone Study "How Smartphones Are Making Kids Unhappy"
Paul Scholz, Family Coach
We Show Modern Parents How to Expertly Parent Their Modern Teen Into Maturity and Responsibility