When I talk to parents of preteens, the conversation inevitably turns to the question of when their children should have their own cell phones. It is crucial to handle this “pre-phone moment” correctly. For one thing, it is the one and only time that you hold all the negotiating cards; perhaps more important, it’s an opportunity for you to clarify your values, and to explain to your child what you believe the cell phone for should be for. In my experience, a signed contract—a literal, concrete document outlining your child’s rights, your rights, and best practices—works quite well. Here’s an example.
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