My three kids (ages 16, 14, and 12) all own an iPhone. Without my wife and I setting some guidelines, they would stay plugged into their devices from the moment they got home from school until bedtime.

These boundaries are our attempt to tame the cell phone beast.

We often struggle with what those guidelines should be. We sometimes get lazy and don’t enforce them. Overall, it’s a constant source of tension between us and them.

I think most parents share in this struggle.

The good news is that you can help. You can give them some tips to set guidelines with cell phone use.

And guess what?!? We’ve got you covered.

Our friends over at Parent Ministry have put this together for you.

Below you’ll find 10 ways parents can tame the cell phone beast with their teenager.

Give some or all of them to the parents in your ministry.

As Jeremy Lee, founder of Parent Ministry, mentioned in this blog post:

“If the way to transform a student is to influence their parents, then it’s important to spend a good amount of time partnering with parents.”

And giving this resource to parents is a simple way to partner with and walk alongside of them in this journey called parenthood.

Creating resources like this for youth & children’s ministry leaders is why Parent Ministry exists.

They create resources that you give to the parents in your ministry. Stuff they will love and actually use! These resources help parents navigate the formative childhood years and crazy teenage years, understand the changing world of today’s young people, and spiritually lead their children and teens.

We’re really grateful for the Parent Ministry team for sharing this with us.


– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth



10. Use the Parental Controls

All the major cell phone carriers have some sort of parental controls. There are some pretty great features that help parents. Some carriers let you set the hours your teenager can use their phone and others allow you to track their whereabouts through GPS. You might pay an extra fee for these services, but parents tell us that it is well worth it.

9. Have Your Teenager Take a Picture of Their Destination

Instead of just having them call you when they arrive at their destination, have them send a picture which gives visual evidence that they are where they are supposed to be. This gives them an amazing opportunity to earn your trust.

8. Don’t Give a Smart Phone Right Away

A lot of the parents we talk to gave their teenager an older phone to start with and let them have more features as they earned more trust. This sets your teenager up for success and avoids giving them too much too soon.

7. Learn the Texting Abbreviations

You are one Google search away from being an expert in the language of text message abbreviations. It’s true that teenagers have their own language when they text, but the smart parent chooses to become fluent in that language so they can understand what their teenager is saying to them and others.

6. Use a Cell Phone Contract

Sit down with your teenager and work together to set guidelines for cell phone use. Write them down, sign the bottom of the paper, and hang it up in a public place in your home. This will give you a reference point to refer to in the future.

5. Shut Down Texting and Driving

Talk early and often with your teenager about Texting and Driving. It will be one of those subjects that they are tempted to ignore, but it is crucially important that they respect. By the way, if you text and drive in front of them you will fight an uphill battle convincing them not to pick up the habit.

4. Break the ICE

Make sure your teenager has a contact in their list titled ICE (In Case of Emergency) with your phone number listed. Emergency responders are trained to check the phones they find for this contact.

3. Fight for Your Right to Read Texts

You might disagree with us and that is OK, but we believe that you should have the right to read your teenager’s text messages. The older they get the more right they have to privacy, but we believe they should earn that right over time. If you are watching their texts you have a chance to teach them how to act responsibly.

2. Plug In The Cell Phone By the Parent’s Bed at Night

This is a parenting ninja secret. To keep their teenager from texting until 2 am in the morning, we know some really smart parents who have their teenager charge their cell phone in the Parent’s bedroom at night.

1. Teach Your Teenager Early That Their Phone is a Privilege not a Right

If you pay the bill then you are in control of whether or not your teenager gets to use the phone. When we asked parents for tips on taming the cell phone beast, this was by far the most popular. We hope it helps!

Liked this blog post? Then you’ll also like this one…

How to get parents to make youth group a priority


  1. Cecilia
    • July 2, 2018

    Hello thanks so much for this amazing themes I’m a mother and I’m so confused with all this and the youth kids and thanks so much for this great ideas. I hope everybody is well and safe . God bless all!!!

    Reply 1 Response
    1. Kristy Preston
      • July 4, 2018

      Cecilia, We are so happy that you can use these in your ministry! God Bless!


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