It’s Christmas and our teen daughter is finally getting a cell phone. She isn’t aware of this. She hasn’t been begging for one. Adrienne is one of the most non-materialistic kids I’ve ever known. Between her camera, her hamster and her American Girl studio, she is one happy camper. However, she joined a plethora of social groups since we moved to Florida this summer. We find ourselves dropping her off more frequently, with no great way to stay in contact. In addition,  her new friends use phones to stay connected to one another.

Adrienne is always above board with us. Communication is a serious priority in ito house. Mainly because we anticipate the time in our family life when more hours each week are spent going in different directions. Far from shying away, our daughter welcomes the opportunity to talk to us all about her life.

We extend our pattern of being a connected family by clearly communicating our expectations (concerning technology). Before writing these, I read a lot of others. Many are fear based, with the underlying expectation that this is a train wreck waiting to happen. We have better results by parlaying privilege until we are tryin secure; also by talking up to our kids, like this:


The goal of giving you a phone is to help you connect to new friends, and old ones, and mainly for us to be able to reach each other when we’re apart. Our role is to make sure you’re always safe. However, if used wrongly, technology can be a weapon that puts your safety at risk.

  • I promise that my parents will always know my phone passwords. I understand that my parents have a right to look at my phone anytime, even without my permission. I don’t delete things in order to hide them.
  • I will get permission before I download any apps, games, or stream any content.
  • If Mom or Dad call me, I will answer right away. If for some reason I miss their call, I will call them back immediately.
  • I will place the phone in the charging nook every night at 8 pm. Sleep and family time are massive priorities.
  • I understand that data is not a free service, so I will use wifi when available. I will get permission for long or long distance calls.
  • I will only search for and send things with my phone that I can be proud of as a Brendtro. I understand that my behavior on my phone impacts my future, reputation, and more than just my own family.
  • Any pictures I take will be appropriate and respectful to myself and all other human beings.
  • I will tell my parents if I receive suspicious or alarming phone calls or text messages, or if I am being harassed by someone via my cell phone/social media.
  • I understand phone etiquette is an extension of normal manners. I will put my phone away during connection times such as meals, church, or while speaking with another human being. I will not use it when I have the opportunity to connect with people.
  • I only give my personal contact information to friends whom my parents would approve of. Adults -anyone over 18- who request my info must get it from my parents. No exceptions.
  • If I lose or damage my phone, it is my responsibility to replace or fix it. I understand that this phone is a blessing from my parents and can be recalled at their discretion, for my best interests.

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Written by Melissa Brendtro