Xfinity Discovery Hub

February 08, 2019

10 Cell Phone Rules for Kids and Families

family cell phone rules

Raising tech-savvy kids is essential in today’s digital world, but parents are often unsure about where to draw the line on smartphone use. If you’re considering getting your child a smartphone, you’ll want to ask yourself a few important questions. For example, is your child ready for the responsibility of having a phone? Should parents take away cell phones at night? What other ground rules should your child be expected to follow?

The goal is to create a reasonable approach to your child’s smartphone use that benefits the whole family. These simple tips for teens and younger kids help provide the benefits of connected life while still allowing your family to unplug:

1. Don’t be too strict.

Technology is an important part of our lives, and creating overly restrictive limits is likely to backfire. “Instead, focus on teaching healthy habits that will stay with your child for a lifetime,” the American Psychological Association (APA) advises.

2. Use screens together.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests mixing in some family screen time and even suggests playing video games with your kids. This allows you to model good behavior, like sportsmanship, and helps work technology into family time.

3. Get ahead of the game.

Talk to your kids about the benefits and risks of technology, but frame it in a way that doesn’t frighten them. “Discuss the importance of respecting privacy and protecting personal information in age-appropriate ways,” the APA recommends. “These conversations should be ongoing and should become more detailed as your children get older.”

4. Set limits for young kids.

The AAP suggests the following based on age:

  • Avoid screen time for kids younger than 18 months (except video chatting).
  • Children between the ages of 18 months to two years should only watch high-quality, educational media, preferably with a parent.
  • Children between the ages of two and five should be limited to one hour a day and taught how to apply what they’ve viewed to the world around them.

    Both the AAP and APA recognize the benefits of video chatting, especially with relatives, and don’t suggest counting it against your child’s daily limit, regardless of age.

    5. Be mindful of bedtime.

    Both the APA and AAP recommend keeping all devices out of your kid’s room when they’re sleeping. Set that time aside for charging devices in a different room. The APA recommends unplugging half an hour before bedtime to encourage better, uninterrupted sleep.

    6. Talk about online credibility.

    Discuss with your kids how to identify reliable and accurate information on the Internet. “Explain why they shouldn’t download unfamiliar programs, click on suspicious links, or share personal information on unknown apps or websites,” advises the APA. “Also, teach your children not to respond to unsolicited messages from strangers — and to tell you if they get them.”

    7. Encourage real interaction.

    Kids who solely interact with friends online may have trouble connecting with pals in real life. “Digital friendships aren’t a replacement for the real thing. Help your child develop social skills and nurture his or her real-life relationships,” advises the APA.

    8. Recognize that mistakes will be made.

    Your child’s mind is still developing, which is why they need you to help guide them. “Try to handle errors with empathy and turn a mistake into a teachable moment,” the APA suggests.

    9. Use built-in controls.

    Apple’s Screen Time and Android’s Family Link are free cell phone parental controls that allow you to monitor your kids’ time online, set limits on what they can view, and prevent content with certain ratings.

    10. Create your own plan.

    Consider creating an online safety contract with your kids that outlines your family’s cell phones rules and the consequences of breaking them. Include specific expectations, like no texting at the dinner table, and talk about your family’s cell phone rules for teens and kids.

    In today’s fast-paced world, technology will undoubtedly play an important part in your child’s life. By setting some basic rules and making family time a priority, you can (and will) find a balance between staying connected and unplugging. Visit Xfinity Mobile to find a family plan that fits your needs.