After almost fifteen years, we are finally jumping into the world of cell phones with our first-born. As a follower of Christ and one who has seen the ways that cell phones can lead kids astray, change their priorities and personalities, and provide plenty of easy and “private” ways for kids to sin against God, Adelade is dipping a toe into these waters with caution and a heart that wants to please the Lord. For that I am so grateful. I want her to understand that God’s grace is enough for any mistakes that she will make as she begins to navigate the world of text messaging, social media, and the internet. But, I also don’t want her or Chad and me to enter into this new era lightly. I want us to come to this moment with hearts and minds that are tuned to God’s word and His commands for living according to it.
So, I didn’t want to create a document for her to sign that I called a “contract.” Not because I think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, but because I don’t want this to be set up in her mind or ours as a list of do’s and don’ts. I don’t want her to view the phone as a wicked machine bent on her destruction. Nor do I want her to feel like if she fails in any of these areas that she is, then, a failure. The truth is that we all face temptations to say what we shouldn’t, to react in the wrong ways, to look at things that aren’t edifying, to waste time, to be lazy, to ignore our family, and to hurt our witness as Christians while we use and live with and enjoy cell phones.
Instead, I wrote an agreement that I hope will help her to think through the ways that she uses her phone. The idea is to help her commit in her mind ahead of time, before the temptations arise, that she will follow the Lord’s leading and not her own flesh. I firmly feel that kids need a plan as to how to handle temptations, especially when it comes to cell phone use. As parents, it’s our job to guide them through such a plan.
With that in mind, this agreement is sort of a road map that helped us talk through all of the different ways that we know, according to God’s word, that she can walk in holiness with a cell phone in her pocket. I wanted to make sure there is a strong emphasis on the gospel, on God’s grace and on the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Our discussion as we walked through the agreement together went well beyond what is listed here, but it was a great jumping off place and helped me take these ideas far beyond the realm of legalism into examining our hearts and considering the why and the what now of temptations that we face as cell phone users.
Cell Phone Agreement
As I know that cell phones can be good things which are often misused, tempting us to act, talk, or think in ways that are not God-honoring, I agree to commit to the following:
- I will strive to avoid gossip, bad-mouthing, and discouraging or unwholesome talk. (Ephesians 4:29)
- I will guard my eyes and heart against images that dishonor God, knowing that pornography is real, readily available, and that I will be targeted by that industry in the hopes that I will become a regular customer. I am fully aware that nothing on the internet is truly private. I will not look at things that I wouldn’t want my mother, father, or Sunday school teacher seeing. (Philippians 4:8)
- I will never send or post a photo or video of someone without their permission. This includes siblings. (Luke 6:31)
- I will not be so preoccupied with my phone that I ignore situations or people around me. I will remember that God has called me to love those around me, and that’s hard to do when I’m staring at a screen. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
- Whenever possible, I will put my phone to good use as a tool of gospel outreach, encouragement, and care for others. (Matthew 5:16)
- I will not send compromising photos of myself to anyone. If someone sends compromising photos to me, I will take my phone directly to my parents without reply. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
- I will continue to study and learn God’s word so that I have discernment on the internet, recognizing which ideas are biblical and which aren’t. I acknowledge that most of the world’s advice is directly opposed to what the Bible teaches, and I will be vigilant in clinging to the truth of the Bible above all else. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- I understand that nothing on my phone is secret or private. My parents have apps that report my activity, and they will also regularly look through all of my content. This is one way that my parents help keep me safe and hold me accountable as a fellow Christian and beloved child. (Hebrews 13:17, Hebrews 10:23-24)
I understand that this agreement before the Lord is between my parents and me. I know that in any arena of life, temptation can only be overcome with the help of the Holy Spirit. So, I will rely on Christ, and I will remember that with the Holy Spirit’s help, NO temptation is too strong to resist. (1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Timothy 1:7) And when I do sin, I will remember that my sin is no match for the wonderful grace of my loving, compassionate God. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
I know that my parents are a safe haven for me and that they understand the temptations that come with cell phones. I will not be afraid to talk with them about anything, and especially not something that is worrying me, upsetting me, convicting me, or scaring me.
As Christian parents, we really don’t have to be terrified of what is out there. God’s word gives us the tools we need to teach our children well. They will make mistakes. They will struggle and they will question and they will rebel in their own ways. They will face situations they have no idea how to handle, but if we begin with an open dialogue that tackles sin and temptation head on, they will be much more likely to look to us when trouble does arise. I pray that this agreement is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation about what is happening in the online world that Adelade is entering.
Please note that we also use internet filters and accountability software. If you would like to talk through this agreement with your kids, I’ve created a pdf file that you are welcome to print and use. Just click here.