Common Sense Media parenting expert Caroline Knorr answers questions about parenting, media, and everything in between.
Q: How can I get my kids to put down their phones?
A: Staying in touch with friends is important to tweens and teens -- when we were teens, we talked for hours on the phone! Now, the same kind of contact happens through texting. And, as annoying as it can be to see your kids jabbing away at their phones, it's a normal part of life.
However, if cell phone use is getting in the way of family time, homework and other responsibilities, it might be time to help your kid manage his or her phone time.
1. Help kids find space for face-to-face conversations. Put phones down during key conversation times, such as dinner or car rides.
2. Model the manners and behavior you want to see. Avoid texting in the car. Consider narrating your phone use ("I'm looking up directions to the party") so young kids understand the utility of the device. Make sure to excuse yourself if you have to interrupt a family moment to attend to your phone.
3. Charge kids' phones in your room at night. Removing their phones can give kids a needed break.
4. Establish consequences for problematic phone use. If your kids are having trouble putting the phone away when you ask or are engaging in other problematic phone-related behavior, consider instituting temporary time or location limits. Some wireless carriers offer parental controls that let you set daily phone-use limits, and some apps can disable your kid's phone when he or she hits a limit.
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