7 Life Skills to Teach Your Child Before They Get a Cell Phone

Before your child gets a cell phone, be sure to teach them the life skills necessary to handle it. There may be more to understanding cell phone use than what is being let on.


Everywhere you go, you can see kids playing on their parent’s cell phones. It may be a YouTube video, game, or even social media.

Also, have you noticed recently that even young children now have their own cell phones?

It’s simply the world we live in. It’s a smart phone, technological advanced world.

There’s many reasons why parents should and shouldn’t get a cell phone for the kids.

Read: 7 Questions to Ask Before You Get Your Child a Cell Phone

Of course, as a mom we aim for safety first.

The truth is that no matter how much we shelter our children, they will have access to this media in one way or another. I want to be sure my kids are ready for whatever this world throws at them- even if it’s use of a smartphone.

Is there such a thing as safely balancing technology?

I was talking with a wise friend of mine over the summer about cell phone use and our children. I was honestly wondering what her opinion on it was. She said two profound things that stuck with me.

  1. We must model for our children what proper cell phone use looks like.
  2. Some exposure is necessary for their future to be safe.

So, I’ll propose 7 life skills that are necessary for children to master before they should be handed a cell phone of their own– or have access to one for their personal use.

50+ Life Skills Checklists (By Age!)

Kids (toddlers through elementary school) will learn everything from life management, social, survival, and hygiene skills PLUS MORE!

Obeying Rules

If your child is struggling with obeying the common household rules, they aren’t ready for the responsibility of a cell phone. Cell phones don’t teach responsibility, they test it. There is a difference.

Some people argue that they give their kids cell phones to teach them how to be responsible. This is false thinking because the addictive qualities of cell phones don’t trainthey test and try a person’s character.

Therefore, a person needs to be responsible enough to handle the temptations of:

  • I know mom said I had 10 more minutes, but my show is 20 minutes long.
  • If I get my game out while mom is busy, she won’t notice I’m playing extra.
  • I’m smart enough to download apps and hide them from my parents. It won’t hurt as long as I’m careful.

Train kids to obey the household rules and hold them to your standard. If they are wavering in their obedience to you, They are going to be tested past their abilities with cell phones.

Self-Awareness & Appreciation

I have a friend who’s 11 year old daughter is 6’3” tall. When she was four, she looked like a 12 year old. She has spent her entire childhood (so far) working to build her daughter’s self-awareness and appreciation of who she is.

And, she isn’t done yet. Because this beautiful child is always going to be looked at like a “very, very tall girl” or “someone super tall for her age.”

It’s a fact of life for her.

Here’s my point– we all have “facts of life for us.” Our children (no matter how they look or act) have facts of life for them.

Before we allow social media and the rest of the world to draw their opinions of our children- and taint their perception of themselves… it’s our job to drive it in!

Train your child to know:

  • Who they are.
  • What they stand for.
  • What their qualities, characteristics, and personal values ​​are.

When they do eventually get cell phones, they need to have their self-awareness in place or they could fall pray to peer pressure, negative self image, or worse.

Following Directions

Something intense happens to a kid’s mind when they are spending time on technology. A child can be an observant rule follower, then pitch a fit when asked to put down their device. Can I get an amen?

Why is this? Better question, why does this happen?

It’s because the technologies going into designing the game/video/media that they are using is hyper addictive. It’s designed to suck minds in and keep them occupied.

When you pull your child from their technology… a mental breakdown happens. You may think they are just being obnoxious, but in reality they are facing mental giants.

This is where the following directions come into play. Train your children to…

  • put their game down when asked,
  • come as soon as you call,
  • put their item down as soon as a parent/grandparent/friend/etc. comes in,
  • and always ask before starting something new (such as a movie, game, or whatever).

Self-Control

Self-control plays a role in almost all areas of a person’s life. And, it’s most definitely tested in cell phone ownership.

Ask anyone who has fallen into “something they shouldn’t have.” It starts as a self-control issue. Then, it becomes something worse (addiction, shame, lies, etc.).

Teaching your child self-control can be a tricky topic of discussion. And, it’s different with some kids. Here are some tips:

  • Educate them on the definition of self-control. Self-control is the ability to control oneself, even when emotions or desires make us want to behave certain ways.
  • Teach kids to recognize their emotions. We’ve made some Emotion Cards to help with this.
  • Hold them to their behaviors by offering consequences. Cause & effect can be taught lots of ways, but the best way is through practice. If you say there will be a consequence, always followthrough.
  • Redirecting behaviors. Teach kids that if they are having a difficult time obeying or following rules, they should take a different approach. For example, if they are having a hard time finishing their homework on time because the TV is playing in the room where they can turn and see it (self-control), they should move to a different location.

Personal Connections/Social Skills

The hardest struggle this generation faces is balancing the interactions they have between the virtual world and the real world.

If we’re not careful… the virtual world can “swallow up” what is real. If you find yourself constantly thinking about online things VRS. reality, it may be happening to you.

Some people socialize only within a Metaverse. This is where all social interactions happen virtually and a person is exclusively “living” in an alternate reality. People are literally buying and “trying on” virtual sneakers.

Now, you may be thinking this is pretty “far out there,” but think about it. Are your kids ready to handle the pressure of entering into a world where they can be anything?

Furthermore, they are socially trained enough to handle themselves in the real world?

Many are worried that this generation is slipping away from the social norms that make humans interact in the real world. For example, teenagers eat dinner together at a restaurant but don’t talk to each other. Instead, they SNAP back and forth for conversation.

We need to train our children on the social skills of the “real world” before emerging them into technology. Social skills such as:

  • eye contact
  • appropriate body language
  • respect
  • Facial expressions & emotions
  • how to listen (not just hear)
  • how to be present, not absent-present

Safety Techniques

Teaching safety parameters should be a fundamental part of child cell phone use. However, this isn’t happening with most children.

For most, it isn’t until they…

  • see something inappropriate,
  • get unwanted citations,
  • display addictive tendencies, or
  • get caught texting at 2:00 AM.

Then they parents go into “safety mode.” They feel extremely guilty for not protecting their children. As you can imagine, this can be a real heartache.

Sadly, once a child is hurt with technology… it can’t really be “undone.” Some damage is done.

Safety education is a life skill that should be taught before your child gets a cell phone.

These things should be taught (and practiced) prior to getting their own cell phone, but strictly adhered to after they receive their own:

  • List of people who’s phone its “appropriate” for them to look at.
  • Always use a cellular device in a location where mom/dad can hear and see.
  • Outline what the cell phone is to be used for.
  • Ask before opening a new line of communication (whatever the medium is).
  • Never respond to someone you don’t know.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to keep a secret.
  • Set up a charging station (in a local area like kitchen table or living room).
  • Have rules for downloading things.
  • Teach how to know if a game is appropriate/age appropriate.
  • Discuss cyberbullying.

Here’s a big one– educate children on the tricks and mind traps of technologies. Talk about your own experiences with feeling “stuck to your phone.”

Teach them that social media venues and games are designed to draw you in and form mental additions. This way, when they feel these things happening they have a better chance of defending themselves.

Adhering to Boundaries

Boundaries are rules that keep your kids safe and you sane. Without boundaries, parenting can feel like you’re stuck in tsunami waves of chaos and emotions.

First of all, kids thrive under boundaries. They are happier, healthier, and develop at their right pace when proper boundaries have been given to them.

Secondly boundaries, are made to be tested. Kids will certainly do this. It’s part of their development.

But, ignoring or total lack of boundary adherence means that some more training should take place in this child’s life.

A child who doesn’t willingly follow the boundaries related to:

  • time,
  • effort,
  • school,
  • cleanliness,
  • sleep,
  • or quality of life…

is not to add a cell phone in the mix.

50+ Connection Questions

Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!

Use them at:

  • meal times
  • car rides
  • as a “calm down” trick
  • for dinner time conversation
  • or any time the day is getting chaotic or
  • you need a reset to connect.

The post 7 Life Skills to Teach Your Child Before They Get a Cell Phone appeared first on A Mother Far from Home.

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