It usually goes like this - you've given your child a phone for Christmas or their birthday and, despite their promises, they are spending far too much time on it.
When you try to take it off them, they become distraught, accusing you of being unfair, mean, controlling, cutting them off from their friends and social life….and much more besides.
You’re appalled by the effect this device has had on your previously chatty and sociable child but don’t know how to rectify the situation without causing uproar.
Thankfully, in a recent article in the Irish Examiner child psychotherapist, Joanna Fortune, offered this sound advice for any worried parents out there.
In a response to someone dealing with this very situation, she suggests creating a clear list of phone rules that everyone in the family must agree on.
While it’s not necessary that you change your phone habits entirely, when you’re in your child’s presence, it’s important that you stick to the agreed rules.
If possible, set these rules up before you give a device to your child. However, if they have one already, it’s still a good idea to implement them sooner rather than later.
- Real-life conversations – Make sure your child is talking to friends in real-life every day and never just on phone messaging platforms.
- Phone-free rooms – Let them know that there are phone-free rooms in the house. For example, no phones are allowed in bedrooms or the dining room.
- One screen, one time – This means they are only watching TV or on their phone but not the two simultaneously.
- Time limits – There are clear guidelines around when the phone can be used – no phones between 8pm and 8am, for example.
- Overnight boundaries – Everyone must agree that all devices stay downstairs overnight.
- Phone checks – You will be checking their phone from time to time to ensure that they are safe, respected and respectful in their usage but you will do this with them and not behind their back.