Children and mobile devices

B2B Editor10 February 2017

This year, many children may have had the excitement of finding a mobile phone or iPad under their Christmas tree. It is not uncommon for separated families to have different rules and perspectives on the use of electronic devices, access to the internet and access to social media by children.
This can create problems for children who have to navigate rules in the different households.

Mobile phones can be resented by the parent spending time with the child because they see the phone as a means by which the other parent unnecessarily interferes in their time with the children.

Sometimes, children are provided a mobile phone because one parent finds it extremely hard to communicate with the children when they are away from them and phone communication is not being allowed or facilitated by the other parent.

When communication between the parents is poor, that lovely gift under the Christmas tree can becomes the centre of controversy and debate.

There are no clear “rules” around this but common sense might suggest the following measures:

  • Let the other parent know that you are thinking about buying a mobile phone for your children.
  • Clearly communicate expectations around who will pay the bill or keep your children “in credit” – do not assume that paying mobile phone bills will be a matter of agreement.
  • Let the other parent know you are thinking about buying a tablet or similar device and discuss the Apps or programs the children might have available to them along with the amount of internet usage you expect they will have access to.
  • Respect each other’s views as parents and acknowledge that they may be different about the use of tables and phones in each other’s households and that the other parent may choose to limit the use of the phone or table that you have purchased for the children.
  • Be savvy about your children’s exposure to the internet and social media sites and how much time they spend on their devices. There is growing research to help parents understand the impact of this on children and it is different for children with different needs. (There are also Apps available to assist parents with this.)

If the rules are different in each household surrounding internet and device usage, make each set of rules clear to the children, after all, they are the ones who have to navigate the rules.

Alison Osmand is a Senior Associate of the firm
18 Kendall Lane, New Acton, Canberra
phone (02) 6212 7600
[email protected]