After kids finish their homework and have eaten dinner, are they allowed to use their smartphones? The phone etiquette rules for during school hours and even after school are fairly clear, but where should parents draw the line at nighttime?
Here are some helpful etiquette rules from TeenSafe your kids can follow:
Keep it on while Away from Home
If kids are out with their friends at night or staying late at school for a soccer game or club meeting, they should always be required to keep their phones on so you can get in touch with them if needed. Kids should always carry an extra charger in their backpacks or purses so they can never use “my phone is dead” as an excuse for why they didn’t answer. If your kids are traveling from one location to the next—for example, going to the mall, then the movies, then dinner—they should check in with you at each location. There’s no point in your kids having a phone if you can’t reach them when you are worried about their safety, so make it clear this is a rule that must be followed.
No Texting while Driving
Once your kids are old enough to drive, it’s important to establish a no texting and driving rule. Twenty-one percent of teens who were involved in a fatal car accident were texting at the time, so this is a serious concern for parents that needs to be addressed. If kids are driving by themselves or with friends at night, they should know there’s absolutely no texting allowed.
Make Time for Family
When kids stay in for the night, they should not be allowed to use their phones if you have planned a family activity together. Are your extended family members coming over? Do you have a family movie night scheduled in your living room? In these situations, kids should not be glued to their phones, otherwise they won’t get to spend valuable time with family.
One Hour of Free Time
If kids have finished their chores and homework for the evening, allow them to have one to two hours on their phones, which is the maximum amount of daily screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. During this time, kids can chat with their friends, update their social media profiles, or browse the web — they’ve earned it.
Although the AAP recommends one to two hours per day, they also acknowledge there should be exceptions to this rule depending on what your child is doing on the phone. For example, your child should not be punished and cut off from using his phone if he has been researching something for school for the past three hours. Or, if children have become engrossed with an educational TV show that they are streaming through their phones, it’s fine to let them use it for a longer period of time.
No Phones in the Bedroom
When kids are alone with their phones, they tend to make bad decisions, such as sending inappropriate photos or text messages. But, if you don’t allow kids to bring their phones into the bedroom, you can prevent this from happening. Make your kids’ bedrooms “no phone zones.” Not only does this help you prevent inappropriate behavior, but it also helps them focus on homework and sleep instead.
When it’s time for bed, it’s time to put phones away. Kids who sleep with their devices nearby take a longer time to fall asleep, and lose out on quality sleep, too. With a phone within reach, kids will feel tempted to stay up later to text their friends, and they may even wake up throughout the night when their phones go off. The more sleep that children lose, the more likely they will be to suffer academically and emotionally. To prevent your children from losing out on sleep, have them turn in their phones and chargers to you before heading to bed.
After a long day at work, the last thing you want to worry about is what your kid is doing on his or smartphone. Establish these etiquette rules in your home, and use the evenings to relax and bond together as a family.
Article originally appeared on TeenSafe.com.