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Rules for Smartphone Use

Question

My 10-year-old daughter has a smartphone - I know, I know, mistake #1. Her dad is overseas, so this allows her to FaceTime him. I'm trying to backtrack here because she has no motivation to do anything or use her mind to solve her own problems. She wants to be a pitcher, play piano, soccer, etc., but won't practice. If we take away devices, TV included, she cries and sits like a bump on a log. We are still going to take them away though! My thoughts are, they are taken away until she shows motivation and can entertain and think for herself. My question is, how long should they be taken away for?

THANK YOU!

Answer

Don't be too hard on yourself or your daughter. What matters is that you make a change for her sake. As John says, you have to think about the long-range goal and not her short term unhappiness when you take away devices. If you want her to be motivated to do other things she must be given the opportunity. Only you can do that. She cannot do that for herself.

She should not have any internet access for any reason. At home, the phone should be in a public place and not be taken in her room. A child should not have devices in their rooms. She should not take the phone to school. I understand the phone is her connection to dad but there must be boundaries around it.

The call for how long devices and tv should be taken away is yours. I suggest parents have no media during the school week because it's too hard to manage and interferes with homework and sleep. If a parent feels a child is addicted then cold turkey is the only way to go. It may be that you want a movie night on Saturday and no electronics at any other time. Whatever you decide you must be consistent with the boundary you've set.

Parents I know who have chosen to unplug from all devices, including TV, have reported wonderful benefits. If you do this be supportive and encourage her to do other things. Be compassionate because it's not easy when we've been given all of these distractions and then they're suddenly taken away. I do not recommend you become her playmate but I do suggest doing some things with her like planting a garden and going to the park to practice her pitching. Don't wait for her to want to. Insist on it.

I would not present this as a punishment even though it will feel like one to her of course. You might say the following..."We learned that all these devices aren't good for your developing brain and for now, we need to take them away. Of course, the Smartphone will be available for you to call daddy but cannot go into your room or to school because it's not allowed.

Hope that helps. Let us know
Katherine Saltzberg CLPC
coach@icoachmoms.com

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