It used to be a hard rule: No phones or other devices in my kids’ rooms or in the bathroom, ever. There’s no need to be behind closed doors when you’re twelve and have access to that kind of world. Also, I’ve never quite trusted my kids’ hygiene habits so not having them in the bathroom was something that saved us from a whole bucket of other problems I am sure.
As my kids got older I let them take their phones into their rooms
But, as they got older and I got more comfortable with my children peering into the land of Instagram. I saw how FaceTime for them literally consists of them living their life while their friend watches them as they ignore each other and do their homework or have a snack so I became more lenient.
While I’ve always taken their phones away around 9pm so they could simmer down and get a good night’s rest, I started letting them have their phones and laptops in their rooms. It was something that crept in over time and I wasn’t fully comfortable with it, but I still let it happen.
Fast forward to now: they are 16, 14, and 13. I leave them home alone a lot more than I did when they all got their first phones at age 11. Not to mention the fact they spend a lot of time with friends these days and I am “the only mother in the universe who has the no phone in bedroom rule.”
I can honestly say I didn’t feel like fighting it any longer, so having their phone in their room became a thing. Then, they started closing their doors and going into an Internet-induced coma was all they wanted to do.
I could have suggested an afternoon of picking dollars off a tree and taking them to buy whatever they wanted, thrown in piles of ice cream, and they still would have wanted to stay in their room staring at a screen.
My ex and I decided no more phones in their rooms
My ex-husband and I had a heart-to-heart about what we were allowing to happen to our children. We were both guilty, and in a sense, we’d both given up. We decided then and there, no more electronics in their rooms.
I was surprised when I implemented the rule my kids didn’t really put up a fight. Maybe they were relieved in a sense. Phones can be incredibly addictive to certain people and maybe taking it off the table gave them a sense of freedom. But I’d be willing to bet it was because they now knew it was a rule again. I wasn’t being passive about it or leaving it up to them. I wasn’t nagging them about not doing it so much. I was telling them they weren’t allowed to.
That was almost three weeks ago and while there have been a few times I had to remind them of the new house rule, I am amazed at the change in my kids’ behavior.
It did wonders for our family to limit screen time
They are coming back to life. They are more social. They talk instead of shrug and when they get home from school they don’t run up the stairs and close themselves in their rooms. They seem happier and aren’t in such a rush to get back to their phones.
My ex and I have both noticed how engaging they are and my thirteen and fourteen year olds actually went outside. To play. I know, I couldn’t believe either.
I have to be honest and say I was allowing them to spend a lot of time in their rooms, on their phones without knowing what they were doing because I was too exhausted from constantly trying to get them to do other things.
I realize now it doesn’t make a lot of sense and if I just took the damn things away and told them if they wanted phone time, it had to be downstairs with me, my life would have been a lot easier. So would theirs.
I won’t sit here and say that allowing them to have their phones in their rooms was a parenting mistake–every child is different and just because having access to devices in their rooms sucked the life out of my children it doesn’t mean it will happen to yours–but it was one of the biggest learning experiences I’ve had as a mom.
The unlimited access to private Internet browsing wasn’t healthy for my children. It caused friction between us. I noticed there was a lot more drama happening between them and their friends, and changing that paradigm was the best thing I could have done for all of us.
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