Dear RezilientKidz Team,

What are your thoughts on the subject of kids and technological devices? We have both teens and pre-teens in the home, and I’m having trouble with all of them when it comes to limiting the amount of time they spend with phones, tablets, and computers. Is this normal? 


Is it ever!  According to a 2010 Pew Research Center survey, eighty-eight percent of kids between the ages of thirteen and seventeen have smartphones. And Influence Central’s 2016 Digital Trends Study indicates that the average child now gets his or her first phone at age ten! So if you think you’re alone in your struggles, think again. Technology-based conflicts between moms, dads, and children are becoming one of the most common features of the contemporary parenting landscape.  

This particular parenting challenge falls under the heading of “Boundaries and Expectations,” one of Search Institute’s categories of Assets all children need to grow up healthy, caring and responsible. The boundaries and expectations that they’ve discovered, through decades of research, are imperative for every child: Family Boundaries, School Boundaries, Neighborhood Boundaries, Adult Role Models, Positive Peer Influence and High Expectations.

When you do take active measures to implement these important boundaries and expectations, you’ll discover that any attempt on your part to set limits is almost certain to lead to conflict. Children naturally test boundaries, so don’t draw your line in the sand unless you’re ready to defend it.   

Technology presents extra-special challenges in this regard. We all know that technology is alluring and fascinating. Devices like iPhones and iPads are designed to captivate. This is true for grown-ups as well as for kids. So it’s no surprise that, according to the latest research, youngsters are now consuming technology on an average of eight hours per day. And their parents aren’t far behind!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that phones and computers are all bad. Far from it. French fries aren’t all bad, but they could be if you ate nothing else. Balance is the key to good health in every area of life. Unfortunately, it’s particularly difficult to achieve where kids and their devices are concerned. 

That’s where the need for solid boundaries comes into play. Here are a few simple steps you can follow to establish good limits in your home:

  • Be consistent.
  • Be clear and specific. For example, you might say, “No phones at the dinner table, and no computer games until homework is finished. No more than two hours of screen time per day.” Put the rules in writing, have the kids sign the document, and post it on your refrigerator. Establish and enforce clear consequences for infringements of the rules. And make sure you take time to celebrate the trust and freedom that is built when the rules are respected.
  • Model the limits. Let your children see that the rules also apply to you.
  • Know your child. Some kids can handle limits well while others have difficulty in this area. Remember that respect for limits is something that has to be taught – it doesn’t come automatically to most of us. And don’t rush your younger children into the world of technological temptation. Nobody needs a smartphone at age ten!

When it comes right down to it, limits are an expression of love. So do yourself and your children a favor by setting clear limits on the use of technology in your household. You’ll be glad you did!