Phase II: A Parent-Teen Personal Technology Agreement

Ok, so, you've decided that it is now time to move on from the arrangement you've had with your child under which  you loan them an "extra" cell phone for specific times and purposes and you hope they are now ready for a personal cell phone they can more or less call their own.  

I've learned from my extensive work with parents that it's a really, really good idea to write down the rules.  This approach led to my widely use parent-child teen driving contract.  Which, I remind you, is free.  

Even if it's time to allow your child to tote around his or her own phone, table computer, or other digital device, think twice about providing it without a very clear written agreement.  Why write it down?  For the same reason people do contracts of any kind.   It communicates the seriousness with which you take all of this.  It eliminates (or at least reduces) later disagreements about what you said and what you meant.  It just plain works better.

Here's the text for a model agreement I've worked out.  After you read it, you can copy and paste into your handy word processing software and make any changes you wish.

I can think of LOTS of things you could add.  For example, I tend to generally focus on safety, and you might want to add items that pertain to good manners.  I just don't think that's business.  But, examples:
  • Do not use your phone or other digital device during family meals.
  • When your parent is trying to nag you about something, do not be checking text messages.

It's free.  If you use it, please let me know by email.  I just like to know when people use my stuff.  Makes me feel useful.  Also, please consider passing this website on to  your friends and family.

You cannot use any material on this website, including the contract, for a commercial purpose.  It's licensed for personal, non-commercial use.

Ok, here's the text.  

The Contract


By Dale Wisely, Ph.D. (

The text of this contract is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License 

Note:  I recommend parents edit this contract to suit their own purposes and preferences.—Dale Wisely

My parents may provide me with a cell phone or other digital device (tablet computer, portable digital reader, MP3/media player, portable gaming device) if I agree to rules for using it.  I understand that I must abide by these rules. Consequences for not obeying the rules may include restricting my access to my devices for some period of time.

The rules include, but are not limited to, the following. 

 I must agree to give the device immediately to my parents when they ask for it.  I must fully cooperate in showing them the contents of my device, including contacts, pictures, videos, text messages, or anything else stored in it.

 I will not use the device after a time in the evening designated by my parents.  For the purpose of this contract that time will be called “bedtime.” On school nights that time is ______________.  On non-school nights that time is _____________.  This will be revised from time to time, either earlier or later, depending on my age and how well I respect the rules of this agreement.

At bedtime, or whenever my parent asks for it, I will turn in the device to one of my parents and get it back the next day.  (Alternate language:  I understand that if my parents learn I am using my device after the time designated above, they will take it from me for a period of time.  After that, for some additional period of time, I will have to hand in my device at bedtime.)

I will abide by my school’s rules regarding use of the device. 

When driving, I will not operate my device in any manner, including making voice calls, checking for texts, reading texts, or creating text messages.  If my device rings or signals while I am driving, I will not answer it.  I will wait and return calls and texts either when I have reached my destination or can pull over safely.

 Any abusive use of the device will mean I will lose it for a period of time.  Abuse includes sending or storing inappropriate content (nudity or partial nudity, drug or alcohol references, harassing or bullying messages, spreading rumors, sending or receiving calls or texts from strangers, etc.)

I will not use any app or any technology designed to hide from my parents what I have done or am doing on my phone or devices.

Note:  The following item is sensitive and parents will have to use their judgment about including this item, or how to word it.  However, some version of this notice is highly recommended for teenagers.

·         I understand that if I create, send, or receive text messages of any young person, including myself, in which the young person is depicted nude, semi-nude, or engaging in sexual behavior, that I am violating child pornography laws and could be charged with breaking child pornography laws.  I understand that this kind of behavior has caused young people to be charged with crimes and to be permanently listed on sex-offender registries.

_________________________________        ___________________
Signature                                                                       Date

_________________________________        ___________________
Parent/Guardian Signature(s)                                Date

There you go.  Now, here's the contract in Word, or actually Rich Text Format.  See the file under Attachments, below.

I hope this is helpful to you.  Don't forget to email to say hello.