Ryan Family Law, P.C.
Ryan Family Law, P.C.

Elgin, Illinois

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Setting rules for children’s use of electronics across homes

If you’re divorcing while your child is still young enough to be happy with a children’s play phone and tablet, you may not have considered including anything about electronics in your parenting plan. However, the day will come soon enough when they’ll expect to have electronics of their own and to be able to figure out how to use yours. 

Managing kids’ access to digital technology is difficult enough for married parents. It can be a minefield for divorced ones. That’s why more divorcing parents are including specifics about technology management in their parenting plans.

Examples of electronics provisions

Even though digital technology and devices are constantly changing, you can still outline some basic provisions. These can include:

  • Required consultation between co-parents before you let your child have a working cellphone, tablet, laptop and other devices
  • What kind of video games they can play
  • What parental controls are placed on TVs, electronic devices and streaming subscriptions
  • Screen time limits

There are advantages to working out some of these provisions now while you’re negotiating other parenting matters – like the fact that you have legal guidance. It can also help you discuss your expectations now rather than find out later that the two of you have vastly different feelings about kids and electronics. 

Don’t expect to agree on everything. However, you should be able to agree on at least some things – or at least agree on things you won’t do without first discussing the matter with your co-parent – like buying your child their first Kindle or iPhone.

Consistently enforce your own rules

The more you can find areas of agreement, the better it will be for your child. Kids typically feel more secure when their parents have similar rules and expectations of them across both homes. However, they learn to adjust to differences – as long as each parent is consistent about enforcing their own.

Whether your co-parent is more lenient or strict than you are, there’s not much you can do about it except reiterate to your child what your rules are. Unless your co-parent is endangering your child’s well-being (perhaps by regularly letting them watch violent video games or not using parental controls), a court isn’t likely to step in.

Your technology management provisions will likely need to change as your child gets older (and electronics change). However, including something in your parenting plan now can give you a good foundation.

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