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Minnesota mom creates written agreement before giving child first phone, encourages others to do the same

Stephanie Flies of Plymouth drew up a contract for her daughter to initial and sign to make sure she understood the responsibilities involved in owning a phone.

PLYMOUTH, Minn. — Nowadays, many kids grow up with technology in their hands and the internet can be easily accessed by people of all ages. 

Stephanie Flies, a mom from Plymouth, wants to make sure her children understood just how much of a responsibility they have when using any internet-based device. 

"There’s no game plan for this. There’s no generations of mothers and fathers that have gone through raising kids with a small device in their hand," Flies said. "We’re giving her access to this powerful device, and also saying, 'Okay please make mature choices!' And that’s really scary for a parent."

It's why when she and her husband gifted daughter Nora a cell phone over this Thanksgiving weekend, they drew up a contract before handing it over. 

Flies said it put her mind more at ease to have had a very thorough conversation with Nora about the responsibility that comes with a cell phone and put it all in writing.

Credit: Stephanie Flies

"I started building the agreement based on security, so I wanted items to be keeping her safe and secure. I wanted to make sure our family values were in there, and there are just some practical things in there, too."

The agreement lists 16 statements the recipient must agree to, everything from acknowledging the responsibility and even legal consequences that come with illicit messaging, to promising to put the phone away during meals.

Credit: Stephanie Flies / City Mom Collective

"If we can present to our daughter that these are our expectations, and this is what we’re agreeing to, not only are we setting our expectations right from the beginning, but we’re also hopefully setting her up for success," Flies said.

Flies is the founder of a network of sister websites called City Mom Collective. What started as a blog is now a collection of "hyper-local mom influencers," according to the website. Together, they share advice for families, as well as new and pregnant moms. The "Kids' Cell Phone Agreement" is just one of the site's blog posts.

She acknowledges the plan isn't one-size-fits-all and may not be for everyone.

"Admittedly, I probably tend to be on a Type A spectrum of, I love these types of things," Flies said.

But she suggests parents take a peek at the contract and see what things might work for their families and devices.

"The digital world, it's hard out there," she said. "I do think this opens up a communication opportunity between parents, whether it's with a gaming device, whether it's with an iPad that they're getting for Christmas, or it's a cell phone."


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