Getting kids off their mobile devices


Consider these startling statistics: It’s believed that upwards of 75% of teens have smartphones, 1 in 2 feels addicted to his or her device and 72% say they feel the need to immediately respond to texts and social networking messages.

So, what can you do about this growing addiction to mobile devices?

  • Set guidelines with your kids about how much smartphone usage is acceptable, including instituting a no usage rule in the evening and into the next morning (for example, mobile phones are locked away from 9 pm to 7 am) and half-hour timeouts where they’re not allowed to check their devices.
  • Monitor their phone and data usage to gauge how much it’s being used and provide incentives for reducing usage – for instance, a bigger allowance. Alternatively, “charge” them from their allowance if their usage is too high. You can also limit the apps they’re allowed to install, like games or social media sites, so they don’t use their device for everything.
  • Encourage your kids and their friends to have more face-to-face interaction. For example, when friends come over, ask everyone to leave their phones in their coat pockets on vibrate while they’re watching TV.
  • Consider family outings – like local attractions, the zoo or museums – where phones are left at home or projects where they’re left in their bedrooms. If one is necessary in case of emergencies, keep it available but out of reach, like in your purse or the trunk of your car.
  • If your kids don’t yet have a mobile phone, consider delay giving them one by rewarding them in other ways – like with a new bike, lessons for a sport or activity they enjoy

And remember, it’s not just teens who have a problem. More than 1 in 4 parents feel addicted to their phones too. So set the example and put your phone away too.

Do you have your own tips and tricks to control cellphone use? Please share them with your fellow Shop Talk blog community forum members!

Did you know? How young is too young? 

The average age for a child getting his or her first phone is now 10.3 years and 55% of kids use tablets during car rides. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the forum. (Source)

24 thoughts on “Getting kids off their mobile devices

  1. I am a registered nurse and marriage and family therapist working with teenagers and adults who are having electronic addiction issues and other health issues which I believe have been caused by or worsened by excessive electronic usage. I practice and preach moderation and limits with electronics and the importance of face to face interactions and outdoor activities. Being in nature walking with my precious dog and God especially early in the morning prepares me for my day.

  2. A child is old enough for a cell phone when he/she has shown responsibility for taking care of their other belongs.

  3. I have four children and with the first three, we gave them cell phones when they began driving. They were older and we felt better knowing they had a phone to use in case of emergencies. Our youngest son did get his before he began driving only because of his sports and having a way to communicate as to when he was finished practicing! Personally speaking, I don’t see why a “child”, under the age of 10 or 11, NEEDS a phone other than to play games and not do homework!!

  4. My child was 14 before he even had a flip phone which was a necessity. At 15, he got his first smartphone. He uses the device for communication because we live in a more rural area. He also uses it to educate himself thru self discovery.
    I believe proficiency with electronics is a necessity in modern life. I actally put him on educational computer games when he was 3 years old.

  5. The age is a factor but some children are mature for there age and know responsibility, At 10bwith discretion

  6. First off, I think you gave great advice. However, I just wanted to add that even though I’m not apart of the target audience, I think waiting until they’re 14 or so. That’s why my parents and I did because, my two previous phones disappeared for some reason.

    On the plus side, that allowed me to focus on other things. And I find that I’m not too attached to my current smartphone.

  7. I don’t have children, so I can’t comment about the age factor. I worked at my county’s 911 system over 30 years, what I would like to comment on is safety while using a cell phone. Make sure your children know not to text while crossing the street or walking in a parking lot. They should always pay even while talking. This advice would be good for adults also. I can’t tell you how many tragedies I have had to deal with as cell phone use got more popular as I worked over the years.

  8. My daughter was in 4th grade when she got hers, it wasn’t a smart phone, it was just for texting and calls. But she was at school at activities and we couldn’t sit around in the parking lot for 3 hours and wait for her. That way she could let us know it was time to pick her up.

  9. Well, I’m kinda torn. I’m a mother of five (22,19,17,16,& 14) and my husband and I gave our oldest their first phone when she turned 16. At that time we felt like that was a good age to have a phone, but looking back on it, I probably would have given her a basic phone, so she could call me after completing after school activities. She was in a lot of clubs and she would have to walk home from school, so I probably would have gotten her a phone at 12 or 13. Our second oldest got his when he started high school and our other three children got phones in middle school. I think if you have kids that are very active in extracurricular activities then I think a child might need a phone a lot sooner than other kids.

  10. I wonder if this is how it was when television came into vogue? It is good to limit “electronics” yet we are bombarded by noise and other kinds of “electronics” almost 24 hours a day, everywhere we go. We should ALL encourage getting back in touch with nature along with its peace and quiet… Yet someone, somewhere, seems to think that we need to have electronic images and noises , no matter if people around him are on a quest for the lovely “sounds” of peace and tranquility…

  11. Helps kids find space to face conversation.Put phones down during key conversation times such a dinner of car rides.

  12. There is no safe age for cell-phone use. I had to give it up due to electro-sensitivity. When I used the phone, it felt as if somebody pinched my ear. I was an adult when I used a cell phone for the first time. Even though apparently, most people don’t feel a thing while using a cell phone, it is harmful to everyone, especially children. Unfortunately, most parents have no clue what the use of mobile devices is doing to their children. It’s not easy because I remember I didn’t want to be controlled as a teenager. I have seen toddlers play around with smartphones.

    1. I agree… and then have them on a plan with a certain amount of minutes per month. And let them know that you will be monitoring all content- for their safety…

  13. Yes nowadays these kids are on electronics and their phones and not going out to do activities like they’re supposed to be doing

  14. I have kids with phones and have been in the get off the phone battle so e more then I career to. It really does not take long for them to get over not being on it. Only a few days. It can be a tool if used right. But I do prefer to watch my children talk and play together weather its a board game, cards, toys, make believe or outside activities. Doing things as a family enjoying the little things in life is worth every bit of it. So unplugging can be a good thing. Now and then.

  15. I think that’s a good age if they are responsible of knowing not to use it for games and Facebook. Parents know their were abouts.

  16. I have two children my daughter is 8 and my son is 7 they both have tablets but my son has autism I let them play them 2 hours when they first get up after that they get put up them upeat breakfast the get dress but I make them have activates through by the day were they don’t get bored and do stuff with them I think most of the parents don’t want to deal with there children so they give them tablets and phones and video games so they don’t have to deal with them and keeps quit then my kids play them hour before bed that all they play it

    1. I agree. The phones become electronic baby sitters. But oh my gosh; if only they knew what those electric babysitters are teaching them. I discovered Instagram is allowing bullying & partial nudity. Well, it isn’t partial. I reported some photos with women in SEE Through clothing. I mean you could SEE everything underneath the cloth. Their breasts, genitals. Some kids on instagram say that Instagram is grooming them to be child predators by showing them nudity so they won’t be so shocked. I didn’t really believe that until I saw naked baby videos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *