what are your rules/limits with cellphone and internet use? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 04-30-2012, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
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I have two teens, soon to have three. They get their own phones when they start high school as they go to another town, have a long bus ride and having a way to be in touch is important. They have all bought their own ipods and have a lot of fun with them.


My eldest has had a phone for a couple of years, his sister will be getting hers in the next few months. I am fine with them texting with friends but wonder about what limits we will place on use. At this point ds charges his in his room overnight and sometimes texts until very late - but usually stops if we tell him too. I worry that dd will stay up half the night texting. She uses her ipod to listen to audiobooks at night but I think she goes online too when she can't sleep to watch TV episodes on youtube.


I would like to start asking ds - and then dd when she gets her phone - to leave them downstairs overnight, not have them in their rooms. Is that reasonable? I have also started turning off the internet when I go to bed so that the temptation isn't there to stay up online too late. 


I know the importance of connecting with friends but I also know that most of us when I was growing up had to be off the phone by a certain time each night. This thing of everyone having their own private mobile device is different - but I am not sure that there should be no boundaries just because the technology makes it possible.


What do you think?


What do you do?

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#2 of 9 Old 04-30-2012, 08:54 PM
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Well, I think I was not strict enough, did not pay enough attention to what the phone was being used for, didn't set any ground rules, got charged crazy amounts of money for texts, and set myself up for tons of family arguments.


I hope you do things better than I did! Just start the conversations about it now, and decide as a family would be my suggestion. Have rules/expectations up front- who is paying, hours, appropriate use etc. Dd is a junior in college now and it's still a sore spot!


You're right. You're the adult and you should set the boundaries.

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#3 of 9 Old 04-30-2012, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Shantimama View Post


I would like to start asking ds - and then dd when she gets her phone - to leave them downstairs overnight, not have them in their rooms. Is that reasonable? I have also started turning off the internet when I go to bed so that the temptation isn't there to stay up online too late. 


I vote that it is reasonable.  We have a table that has a charging station and phones go there. (There is also a spot for keys and homework, so everything is together in the morning). We don't have a problem with the internet at night (no lap tops or iPads are allowed in bedrooms) but if we did, I wouldn't hesitate to turn it off.


I think reasonable boundaries are good for kids, and there is a direct impact on how much sleep my kids get and how they act during the day. I'm about the mellowest mom I know IRL, but I do believe that at some point, everything needs to get turned off. thumb.gif

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 9 Old 05-01-2012, 07:25 AM
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I like to give the kids a chance to handle things right. DD had her phone in her room for years without abusing it. At 13, she went through a "text all night" phase along with "be online all night" thing too. We talked. We gave her a chance to fix it. She was unable to resist on her own.  At that point, we made her put all her electronics on my desk at 9pm everyday. At 14, all tech use in general had dropped dramatically and everything was able to go back into her room full-time without abuse. Occasionally she texts at night at 15 but from the phone records, I can see that it's ending at 11 and usually only 1 or 2 weekdays at most. We've decided we can live with this.


Certainly set your expectations and the consequences for tech use with your DD upfront. Personally, I'd give her a chance to "do it right" and then pull the tech at night if she's not successful but that's me. 

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#5 of 9 Old 05-01-2012, 05:55 PM
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DS1 is now 19, and paying for his own phone. We don't have any rules for his usage now.


We got him the phone for his 15th birthday, on a three year contact. That would get him through to graduation (actually, a couple months shy of grad, but we agreed to pay until grad). The deal was that we would pay his basic bill every month, but any extras were his responsibility. At one point, he was calling his girlfriend on the way home from school a lot. That bit him, as he racked up something like $200 in additional charges that month. His free calling didn't kick in until about 5:00 and he'd forgotten that. He had to pay and it took him a while, and sucked up money he'd been saving for something else. He never did it again.


Other rules...at one point, he was staying up too late talking and texting. We then required the phone to be downstairs at night. We evenutally relaxed that, as he was getting up okay and such. We also required him to put his phone down and not answer it or send/read texts at the dinner table, just as a matter of simple courtesy. He was not allowed to sit and text or chat while visiting grandma on special occasions (eg. Christmas, etc.), and this rule applied to hand-held videogames, as well.


hmm...I keep thinking there was something else, but paying for his own extra charges, and not having the phone upstairs (for a while) were the big ones, I think. He obviously also had to follow school policy on electronics (ie. all phones, etc. turned off during school hours).


The internet....we never really had formal rules very much. We only have one computer. I use it a lot. DH uses it a lot (for work and just surfing). DS1 uses it quite a bit. We tend to work within a system of "he/she with the greatest need has first call". So, if I want to screw around on MDC, and ds1 has a report to work on, he gets the computer/internet. If I need to file home schooling reports, and dh wants to look up a recipe for dinner, and ds1 wants to mess around on Hero HQ (Marvel comics website), then dh gets to find his recipe, then the computer is mine, and ds1 can use it when I'm done. It's all pretty freeform. I never had any particular "be offline by such and such time" rule, but he did have a generic "don't stay up past this time" rule, and the net fell under that.

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#6 of 9 Old 05-03-2012, 09:46 PM
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My kids are 14 & 16. We gave them phones when they started secondary school (11, almost 12) and began to take public transit to school without us.

The younger one almost never used the phone, so when my mobile died, I "inherited" it. The older one turns off her phone when she goes to bed because she doesn't want to be woken up by telemarketers, wrong numbers, or even her friends. :)


Both kids' have "lights out" at about 9 or 9:30 on school nights.  We used to turn off the wireless at the same time, to make sure the elder one didn't continue to use the laptop in her room, but she grew out of it, so it's not necessary. The younger one only likes to use the bedroom to sleep in, and uses the computer in the living room, so late night computer use is not an issue there.

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#7 of 9 Old 05-04-2012, 05:57 AM
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I think your request is reasonable.


I have tried allowing my son (14) to set his own limits, but unfortunately it is not working! Last night he took 2 hours to do homework that should have taken him about half and hour because he was constantly texting his friends. I am seriously thinking about taking away his phone and ipod and not giving them back to him until he finishes all his homework. I know he won’t  like this approach, but I feel like he is developing bad habits that he needs to break. Next year he starts high school and will have a lot more homework.


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#8 of 9 Old 05-04-2012, 06:07 AM
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My teen is self limiting at bedtime with regard to her phone.  We used to keep her phone with ours in the charging station, but that slipped a little over the past few months.  I've just watched it, and though I think she's up about 1/2 hour later than usual, she generally stops texting/talking and goes right to sleep at a reasonable time.  We had one night of late night texting and I think she regrets it enough to not do it on school nights again.  So, while we do have "rules", in this one instance it seems that common sense and being genuinely tired win the day :)

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#9 of 9 Old 05-12-2012, 01:30 PM
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My teens have made some mistakes with their phones, internet, and video games. There have been times when they were up way too late or didn't get something done for school because of it. This is where I still use natural consequences on my teens. It's their grades that suffer and they who feel like garbage the next day when they stay up too late. They're fairly good at self limiting all their technology use. I rarely feel the need to say anything about it.

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