Cell Phone Restrictions

Updated on September 16, 2010
J.W. asks from Larkspur, CA
15 answers

We just gave my almost 11 year old daughter her first cell phone. She started middle school this year and since she will walk to and from school we decided for safety sake it was a good idea. She is an amazing kid and Iso far shown to be very responsible. My question is how much access should we allow? We planned on limiting calls to immediate family and no texting. However I picked up two of her friends yesterday and the texting stories they told made me wonder. Granted they may have been just stories, but at some point she will figure out the security restrictions we are placing can be "unprogrammed". Does anyone have any good guidelines/rules/restrictions?

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answers from San Francisco on

Middle school girls text. That is why they have cell phones. They rarely call one another. I see it as fairly harmless, as long everything else in their life is going pretty well.

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answers from Minneapolis on

For an 11yr old? The cell phone should be for EMERGENCIES ONLY. No friend calling, no texting, it should be for calling mom or dad in case something comes up, she needs help, gets sick at school, something like that.


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answers from New York on

Not personal experience (my daughter is too young) but from friends -

Make sure she know the phone is privilege
Make sure she know thast since you get the bill you will know if she sends texts and who she calls - let her know you will randomly check
If she unprograms the phone she must give it to you as soon as she gets home (only has it for the schoolday, no evening or weekends)

Good luck!

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answers from San Antonio on

you can call your cell phone provider and block all incomming and out going text messages to her phone. Or should you chage your mind, get an unlimited plan for her. My 11 year old has a phone too, and we showed her a detailed bill and explained ALL NUMBERS THAT COME IN A GO OUT show up on the bill it even shows the time the call took place and how long the call was for. SO, even if she trys to hide it, we will find out and it will be worse for her. So she knows she is only allowed to call numbers we programed into the phone for her. she is a good kid we have not had any problems with her, she has never lost her phone, she has had it since she was 8.

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answers from Dallas on

We do not set limits, use spyware, etc on our daughter (almost 16).

We do have a very good open communication system here. She is aware that her phone is a priviledge and she has lost it at times (our form of punishment). She lives for the phone, laptop and Chi flat iron.

She is a good kid, always has been. Honors, orchestra, cheer. That is not saying she would never do wrong, I am the first to say she is NOT a perfect angel.

I do not set limits HOWEVER, I do randomly check her IPhone and laptop. IF she happens to have something on one of those that is out of line (never has) it would be discussed and we would certainly talk about limits at that point.

She needs to learn responsibility and independence.

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answers from San Francisco on

Kids these days text a LOT. It's the new way to communicate. Some kids do thousands of texts a month. What stories are you talking about?

Your daughter is "an amazing kid and so far shown to be very responsible." I would decide upon your rules, and then trust her. Obviously, she cannot be texting or using her phone at school, and she should not be using it as she's walking, because she needs to be aware of her environment -- strangers, cars, etc. Those would be my main limitations. And yes, a night time limitation is a good idea, like after 9, as suggested below.

Yay T.F., below. Another mom who trusts her child!

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answers from San Francisco on

We have limitations on the phone and allow our daughter so many text minutes and phone calls. When she over exceeds those then the phone gets shut off until the next month. (our plan is unlimited text and talk, but we want her to learn to be responsible with the phone and not take it for granted that she has it). She has the option of earning more minutes when her chores are done without us having to repeatedly ask her to do them and if she chooses not to do chores then she gets her regular minutes. Soem phone will text you when you reach or are near your limit cut off.Depends on what servide provider you have. We monitor minutes and let her know if she is close to lossing her phone. She has the phone from the time she leaves school to aferschool. She is usually on it 1-2 hours afterschool provided all homework is done.

We also limit the phone. No phone until homework is done for the day. No phone at dinner. Phone goes to us by 8pm each night and stays in our room until she walks out of the house for school the next morning.

On weekends We allow her the phone anytime, expcept throughtout the night. So when she has to go to bed. Phone gets turned into us. We tried letting her have it at night time and then we caught her texting on it when she was supposed to be sleeping (shool night) We learned our lesson with that one.

i wouldn't limit text beacuse all kids text and the peer preasure associated with that could only cause future fights between you and your daughter. Most phones allow you to look up online what your kids are texting so you can monitor it and if anything is inappropriate then I would suggest taking it away then. Or maybe adding texting as a privelage if she is being responsible with her phone.

Best of luck.



answers from San Francisco on

Just a little advice for texting and cell phone use. We do not let our 14 year old daughter use her cell phone in her room, unless it is for homework help. She has to leave her phone on the kitchen counter when she is not using it and it gets turned off at 9pm everynight and does not get turned back on until morning. We had AT&T turn off the texting and data function when we first got the phone, so there was no way for her to crack the code, it simply did not function on her phone. We finally let her have texting this summer, but with the condition that her grades must be good in order to keep this privilege. I would recommend not letting her take the cell phone to sleep overs, she can always use her friends phone if she needs to contact you. As long as the phone does not get in the way of your daughters normal routine and she continues to be responsible at home and at school, you should not have any problems. If you do decide to let her text, make sure you do the unlimited program (for your wallets sake), they can run up 500+ texts in just a matter of a few hours. I hope this info is helpful.



answers from San Francisco on

Food for thought - I just heard that texting is now the number one form of communication. Our kids are growing up in this world, not the one we grew up in or even the world my 19 year old was in in middle school. The most important thing is to teach them the positives and negatives to this technology. Restrictions on the middle school kids make sense, in terms of having them turn in the phone at particular times so they can sleep at night. I didn't do this with the older ones, but texting has only grown more popular since my oldest was in middle school. As they reach high school they should have more responsibility for monitoring their own behavior and we only intervene when a problem arises. You have to decide if your approach is to trust and then restrict when misbehavior occurs or restrict and then lift restrictions. There is a different message you are giving your teen depending which method you use.



answers from Sacramento on

Even if she unprograms the restrictions, you will see on your bill if she is texting. At that time you can determine what to do.



answers from Bakersfield on

Hi Mama-
Regardless of the restrictions you put on her phone, there are 2 things you can do.
1. Check the bill. If she is misbehaving or using the phone for texts and non family calls outside of the designated time, she can lose her privileges. There are phones in the school office, and many children lived and still live without the benefit of a phone in their pocket. Cell companies also make phones that have 4, pre programmed numbers in them and nothing else can be dialed. They are more for little kids, but hey- cell bills are outrageous.
2. If you really want to block the phone's access, then go down to your provider's store. They can block it on their end and no amount of effort from your daughter's phone can change that without you going back down there and having the restrictions removed.

Lastly, I know that I did not have a cell phone until I could pay for my own. Times are changing, and some kids really are super responsible, but I am not sure I would allow a cell phone at that age. However, if you believe your daughter is ready, but want to set parameters, then go down to your store. They should not charge you to do this to her phone. =)
Good luck Mama!
-E. M



answers from San Francisco on

One of the rules we gave my 11 year old son, who just got his first cell phone, was: Do not text anything you would be embarrassed to show Mom & Dad. That doesn't mean he has to show us everything, his conversations can be relatively private, but not to send pictures or texts ABOUT anyone.

Since he is now going to a different middle school than some of his elementary friends, texting has been the way they have stayed in touch. Talking on the phone "takes too long and gets boring", (his words), but with texting, he and his friends compare notes about their new school.

His phone must be off during the school day, and off again at bedtime. No calls before school, or after 8:30pm. No texts after 9:00pm. So far, he has only had to tell one friend, one time, about the no late calls - otherwise, I think most of his friends probably have the same rules. It hasn't been an issue for us.



answers from Sacramento on

If it is just for safety sake, then I suggest the following. Make a deal with an official at the school ie librarian, front desk help or a teacher and have her drop it off with then at school. At the end of the day have her pick it up and once she is home it goes into a basket near the front door. I know what you are thinking that is pretty strict but that would alleviate your concerns about her "unprogramming" her phone. The less time she uses it the less chance right. Now that I have given you the strictest option... Kids are really good at learning new things, a cell phone is new to her and eventually she will know everything you know ( possible more later) especially with all her buddies giving her a heads up. Once in possession of a cell phone the rules chance all the time. I would recommend an unlimited account for all ways of communication and do not use it as a carrot or a stick. Last but not least be a good role model. if you make rules keep them. Good Luck!



answers from Dallas on

The one thing I wish I had done with my older kids and will with my youngest is require that the phone be handed over to me at 9 pm and kept in my room at night. Kids have no sense of propriety where calling and texting goes and even if you tell your child "no calls or texts after _____" and even if your child obeys it herself - other kids don't care. They call and text at all hours of the night. When/if she starts texting, check with your carrier to see if duplicate texts can be sent to your phone. Kids say things via text that they would never say otherwise.



answers from San Francisco on

May I ask a question? Your daughter is in middle school and I assume you pick her up and drop her off - why does she need a phone? If she needs to make an emergency call there's a phone in the office. What is the "safety sake" issue? I ask this because many people buy phones for their kids and I'm curious how often these kids are alone and unsupervised, which might necessitate the need for a phone. At our school (daughter also just started MS) the teachers asked that parents make sure the phones are turned off after a certain hour otherwise kids tend to text late into the night and get less sleep.

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