Prepare a Plan

The holidays are approaching and tweens and teens may be receiving a smartphone or a tablet. Because children’s brains are not equipped to self-regulate, it is essential to think about a contract about their use, which will be crafted by parents and child together. It should include the rules and the penalties involved for not following the rules. Here are some rules to think about:

  • No devices in the bedroom after 9 or 10pm. Having a phone in the bedroom encourages teens to connect with their friends or stay on social media way past their bedtime. Sleep is an essential component of your child’s well being and it is important to protect it. Phones should be turned off at a reasonable time and put in a common area or the parents’ room to be charged.
  • How many hours will they be allowed to be online?
  • No devices during mealtime or family time. Real life interaction is essential and gives everybody a chance to connect in a different way. The hurdle here is that this rule should apply to parents as well.
  • No cell phone during homework. This one is tricky because teens are using their devices to work and socialize at the same time. However, multitasking is not good to complete schoolwork and it is important to have a (or many) discussion(s) with your child about the importance of the ability to stay focus.

Online Safety

Another important area to discuss with your child is their online safety. Here are some questions to think about : What will they be watching, and which social media will they be allowed to be on, who will they be interacting with and how, what will they be posting. A few possible rules include:

  • Use of parental controls for content and number of hours spent on a device. Enable the need to ask for permission to downloading apps and to buy content in games.
  • Discuss whether children are allowed to spend real money online and if yes, how much and who will be paying for it.
  • Discuss who they communicate with and how.
  • Parents have the right to have their children’s passwords and to monitor their online life. In the same way, that a parent asks where a child will be on a weekend, a parent should know what their child is doing online.
  • Be aware of what your children are watching on YouTube particularly as one video can lead to many others. Common Sense Media is a useful website to understand what your child is watching or playing.

Turn Off Notifications

Finally, turning off notification sounds helps to step away from devices and allow us to concentrate on other things for a little while longer.

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