Look, I am a parent. My kids are approaching the age where they know and understand what phones are, and that phones are AWESOME. As a parent, knowing the problems that phones cause for ME as an adult, I am nervous about putting the same device in their hands.
But IF my child were to come to me with some of the following strategies, I would very likely be more willing to consider the purchase of a smartphone for them. In this article, we’ll cover some of the main points and arguments you can make to help you finally get that iPhone you are obsessing about.
First and Foremost, We Need To Believe You Are Ready For a Phone
The major hurdle (aside from cost) to getting a phone from your parents is being ready for one. If you want to convince your parents to get you a phone (or allow you to buy one with money you have saved), you need to do more than ask them for the device many times. Or argue your “readiness” with them. You will need to show them in a multitude of ways that you are ready.
Can You Demonstrate That You Understand That iPhones Are Expensive?
The first thing I would want my kid to understand (and show me that they understand) is that phones cost money, a lot of money. We as parents are not made of money, nor does money grow on trees. We have a lot to spend our money on, from mortgages, bills, school fees, food, and many other expenses.
You may not realize this, but sometimes we don’t have enough money each month to pay for everything we need.
But as a young person, you may not have been involved in the development or execution of the family’s budgeting process, and you may have no idea how much money the adults in your family make or spend. Unfortunately, financial literacy is not taught to most young people in school or at home, which leaves many people feeling very uncomfortable when talking about money.
If you wanted to convince ME to get YOU an iPhone, you would need to acknowledge from the very beginning the cost of the device (meaning doing your own research), and then start talking about the money, and how adding an additional expense to your the family’s bottom line is worth it.
Do You Plan to Help Pay for the Device, and If So, How?
Next, you really should have a plan for how you are going to contribute to the costs of phone. Maybe this means saving up allowance money, doing extra special chores, working in the yard for the neighbors, SOMETHING. If my kids come to me demanding that I buy them something expensive for no one reason than they want it….it is pretty unlikely that they are going to get it.
But if they want to help pay for it….the game changes.
It could be that you and your parents could share the costs of the phone with you, or that you could make monthly payments to your parents to help cover the monthly device payment on the family cell phone bill. Or perhaps you’ll get to buy the phone once you have saved enough. Or you’ll do a specific chore each day/week/month to earn the right to have the device.
You want your parent to be considering the importance of taking personal responsibility and that getting a phone could be an excellent learning and teaching opportunity for you. If you come to them with a bold statement like “I’ll help pay for it” without a plan, I will definitely doubt their commitment to actually following through with their unsupported promises.
If a young person were to come to me and ask for an expensive item that I don’t really want to buy for them, but they also included a very well-thought out plan for how they would help with the acquisition of the item, I would definitely be more likely to consider their argument.
Can You Take Care of Your Other Expensive Items/Devices?
Do you have a long history of destroying or losing smartphones, iPads, laptops, remote control cars, jewelry, clothing, or even the expensive items belonging to your parents? If the answer is YES, then you are going to need to really focus on demonstrating for a period of several months that you can take good care of your iPhone. And you’d show that by taking care of your other items (not dropping them, keeping them clean, not losing them or leaving them anywhere) and also respecting the items owned by us parents.
Do You Really Need an iPhone?
A simple, “mom or dad I need an iPhone” will absolutely lead to serious frustrations on both sides of the argument. A smartphone (especially a top of line expensive one) is not a real need in the first place for anyone. Instead, you will have to use words that encourage a conversation between you and your parents about what you would do with the phone and how owning it would be beneficial to you. By so doing, you will have a chance to explain yourself fully.
If you are logical and rational in your speech, most likely your parent will get interested in where you are heading and will hear you out. You might need to look carefully at the features of the device you are drooling over, and think hard about how those features translate into something good for you (and your parents). Here are some examples:
- Newer iPhones have the most updated software and hardware. This means that you’ll be best prepared to make use of this phone to complete school assignments, confer with other students over Zoom or distance learning platforms, to access wi-fi to quickly perform research, etc.
- Newer Phones Have Updated Features Which Will Help Keep a Teenager Safe. For example, iPhones GPS capabilities mean that parents can utilize the phone’s parental controls or third-party location apps to keep an eye on you, knowing where you are, whether you are driving, to have the you check in, etc. Parents can also remotely manage the device, changing the password to it, or even locking you out of it.
Do your research, and think hard about the benefits of the device for you and your parents. Parents want the best for their children and anything that impact positively can be a plus for you as you make your argument.
Offer to Sign and Comply With a Cell Phone Use Contract
You can find examples of these all over the internet. Essentially, these are agreements that you can make with your parents to govern your usage of it. If YOU bring this idea up with your parents before they can suggest it, you will show them in so, so many ways that you are thinking about the phone from the perspective of a mature person.
What sorts of agreements might be included in a cell phone agreement? Things like:
- Access times (cut off times, not using during meal times, not using while driving)
- Payment details (who pays what and when and how)
- Behavioral Guidelines (parents have the right to take the phone if grades slip/fall, if chores don’t get done, if mood is bad, etc)
- Damage (what happens if the phone is damaged, regardless of who is at fault)
- Loss/Theft (what happens if the phone gets stolen, even if it wasn’t your fault)
- Monitoring (agreements that parents have the right to monitor the phone remotely with GPS or third party apps)
- Parental Control (agreements that parents have the password to the phone and all apps and accounts inside the phone)
- Parental Access (meaning parent can access the phone at any time, even during your access time, to see what you are doing, who you are texting, the contents of the messages) and what failure to provide the phone upon request will mean
- Conduct (that you will not use the phone to exchange personal or sensitive information, to send or receive revealing photographs, that you will not send/receive money with the phone without parental approval, that you will not use it to send hateful or hurtful messages, etc)
- Usage (how much data can you use each month and what happens if you use too much, Tik Tok is reaaalllly bad for data usage, for example)
As a parent, if my child came to me understanding the need for a contract, and is fully ready to comply with all of the terms I would demand, I’d be more willing and open to consider the phone. If my child were to refuse to sign off on a cell phone use agreement, I wouldn’t help him get one.
Do You Act Like A Person Who is Ready for an iPhone?
A lot of kids talk the talk, but they seldom walk the walk. Having an iPhone (or an iPad, any other expensive technology device, or a vehicle) requires that you behave like an adult. If my child comes to me asking to get a phone after throwing a gigantic tantum over something small in the days or even weeks (or months) before the request, I will definitely hesitate.
Prepare in Advance: Pay Special Care and Attention to Your Appearance and Conduct
One of the biggest challenge with the youth nowadays when dealing with adults is the way they appear and conduct themselves. Us adults have ideas about what it is respectful and how people should act. We don’t always understand clothing trends or language trends. Much of what we see today with young people (skin baring clothing, caked on makeup, incomprehensibly language) screams the opposite of mature.
If you know you need something from your parents, you have to be at your best. And not what you think is the best, but what they think is the best. If there are clothes your parents have never approved of, this could be the time to do away with them, or move towards a style that they hate less. Any hair style that has never been your parents’ favorite could also be updated.
This might sound like I am trying to convince you not to be your true self and to express yourself as you are, And maybe that is how you feel as you read this. But ultimately, what you are trying to do is to convince your parents to do something they might not want to do or be ready to do. If you can’t show them that you understand them and their rules, you will struggle to convince them that you will be able to work with them when it comes to the phone. This may not require that you give up your pink hair or sassy crop tops. But it might mean making some changes to show them that you are thinking more like an adult.
The same is true for your conduct. You need to show your parents the best version of yourself, and not just in the way you look. This also applies to the way you act and speak. And not just in front of your parents or to your parents. Certainly, it is important to be polite and respectful to your parents, and to express yourself with words instead of incomprehensibly grunts or sighs.
But it is also important to behave yourself out in the world, when you talk to teachers, neighbors, extended family, small children, even the shop keeper down the street. In a world of technology where everyone has email or text, you have to know that your parents are talking about you behind your back to just about everyone you come into contact with. Wouldn’t you rather they get glowing messages about how you helped someone do something for free, without being asked?
As a parent, when I see the opposite conduct at home (grumpiness, poor communication, self-absorption, disrespectful communication, name calling, eye-rolling) or worse, when I see it out in the world, I am LESS likely to want to buy my kid something expensive.
But if you are a teenager acting like a gentleman or lady, we will definitely sit up and take notice.
Make Your Best Effort in School
Not every person is going to get great grades in school. As we are learning, there are different types of intelligence, and we know that our current education doesn’t always help every child shine. I don’t expect my kids to get straight A’s in school. But what I do expect is that they give their best effort. This means attending all classes unless there is a legitimate excuse, such as illness or a parent-approved absence.
This means doing homework without being nagged. This means getting along with other kids. This means paying attention in class and taking notes. This means putting in effort to learn the hard stuff, even if it doesn’t produce top grades. This means doing things ahead of time, and not waiting until the last minute to start assignments.
We as parents can see you. We can see when you are trying hard, and when you are not. We understand why your grades are the way they are. We talk to your teachers behind your back all the time.
If you aren’t trying hard in school, there’s almost no chance that you are going to get me to buy you an iPhone.
Contribute to Your Household
You need to be a contributing member of your household to be in your parents good graces. Or in their best possible position with them. Responsible, mature teenagers and young adults understand that the house needs to be cleaned, food needs to be cooked, that chores need to be done. If you are leaving all the work to your parents, you are wasting an major opportunity to demonstrate to your parents that you are responsible, that you are mature.
We talked about the money part in buying a phone above, and I don’t think it is reasonable or necessary for teenagers to feel pressured to contribute towards utility bills (water, electric, sewer, rent). But if buying the phone will cause or incur additional financial obligations, such as the device payment, insurance payment, or even increased charges for mobile data), it makes sense to offer to help pay for those increases.
If you don’t have any money or have any way to earn money, there is still a lot you can do to help your parents around the house. You can clean, cook, mow the lawn, weed the garden and flower beds, etc, etc, etc.
A very mature and responsible thing to do is to ask your parents what you can do to help. Do you know how rare it is to hear a child say the words, how can I help? I can also guarantee you’ll get your mom’s attention whenever you utter that magical phrase.
Give Your Parents a Chance to Think When You Ask for the Phone and Control Yourself When They Respond
It is hard to control yourself as a young person. There are many biological reasons for why impulses are hard to control, and why emotions are hard to control. As parents, we see control struggles as signs of your immature brain. When you talk to your parents, you may feel very strongly, and you’ll have a hard time letting them speak, ask questions, or even take time to think.
You may want to have your answer (yes or no) right away.
Mostly likely, your parents are going to want and need time to think about your request and arguments. They will want to talk to each other, do their own research, or even talk to other parents to bounce the ideas off them for feedback and other experiences.
If your parents ask for time to think, you need to react calmly and give them that time to think. I would recommend that you give it several days or even a few weeks before bringing it up again. And when do you do bring it up, do it is a calm, non-whiny way.
If your parents say No, you need to react calmly, and assume that what they mean is not yet. If they say no, feel free to calmly ask for an explanation as to why. Try to have a discussion with them, with the purpose of learning more about their objections, and not with the goal of changing their mind at that time. If your parents say No, it is because there is a reason for it, and you need to discover that reason so that you can address it and overcome it.
Shouting at them or crying will not overcome whatever the objection is or was, and will only make your case to get an iPhone weaker.
Instead, encourage a back and forth discussion. Even if you aren’t getting what you want, being able to speak to your parents and have an adult conversation will do a lot to help convince your parents that you are, in fact, ready for that phone you want.
Set Up a Time To Talk Rather Than Ambush Them With a Serious Request
Adults set appointments for important things in their lives. Doctors. Dentists. Job interviews. Meetings. Classes.
If you are serious about getting an expensive item, and you need your parents on board, the best thing to do would be to first ask them when it would be a good time to talk with them about something serious.
There are times when parents are stressed and need space. This is not the right time to ask for anything. Not even ice cream. Wait for a time when your parents are more relaxed. If they tell you that they have time to talk to you, but you observe that they do not seem that ready for your talk, try and set up a time in the next few days instead. Maybe suggest that you go to coffee together, or take a walk later. There’s no need to force it.
Don’t Give Up If They Say No
When I say, don’t give up, I don’t mean, keep asking them every day.
What I mean is that if they say, there is a reason. And you need to discover that reason and address it.
If the family simply cannot afford the phone (along with the change to the family data plan), which is very often the main objection to the new phone, you need to do something to help the family afford the phone.
Maybe you save up for the phone by collecting cans and returning them for the deposit. Or perhaps you mow lawns for the neighbors. You could buy and sell garage sale pieces on Facebook marketplace.
If they think you are too young, or too immature, get to work on all the suggestions I’ve laid out in this blog post. Work on your appearance, behavior, grades, and contributions at home.
Frankly, if they say no and you work very, very hard to show them that you are mature enough, you might find that (if it is affordable) they’ll end up getting you that device as a reward for all of your hard work.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.