Teens and social media is a hot topic these days. Everyone seems to have a different opinion (which is fine- I don’t believe there is one answer for every family) and many parents of younger children in particular are searching for answers that fit with their values. Chuck and I are not afraid to lay down rules and our teens are not afraid to follow them. Here is a basic outline of our current media policies.
1. No internet time until school work is done. Period. Unless, of course, the internet is needed for school work.
2. The kids are limited to an hour a day…and they don’t “get” an hour every day because often times the day is too busy, I need the computer for my blog and photography business, etc.
3. Someone must be in the room for the computer to be used.
4. Chuck and I check the computer history every morning when we log on.
All of our teens currently have Facebook accounts (monitored by Chuck and myself). We are “friends” with them so we are able to monitor their activity and their friends’ activities. As I have blogged about in the past, Facebook has been a great way to get to know the kids’ friends. When Adalia was preparing for her trip to Honduras someone had started a Facebook group and the kids were able to get to know each other before meeting in Florida. Inspired by that Judah has started a Facebook group for his Zambia team.
Several of our kids own a DS or PSP. For the teens, they can only be used after 8 pm (when the younger children are in bed). This prevents the little kids from gathering around and spending time passively watching someone else play on a tiny screen.
The younger kids can only play on the weekend, an hour per day (for a total of 2 hours per week).
We have a few old strategy games on some old PC’s (Colonization, Civilization, Chess) which the kids play once in a while. The same rules apply (one hour per day on the weekends).
We don’t have a Wii, Xbox or anything else. As a general rule, we don’t allow games rated as mature or higher (such as Call of Duty).
Adalia has a cell phone needed for her doula clients and to be in touch while she is at school, babysitting, etc. She pays her own phone bill.
We also have a “floater” phone that goes with whichever teen is out and about. These days it is usually Judah, working to earn money for his trip to Zambia. Chuck and I pay the bill for this phone.
These phones are basic cell phones with the ability to (wait for it!) make phone calls and take crappy pictures. That’s it. I’m sure they could text, but we have no texting plan and it would show up on our phone bill, so I don’t think any of our children are likely to try it.
What we don’t allow:
Ipod touches, iphones or any device that allows the internet to be accessed.
Games that are rated Mature or higher.
When we want to watch a movie as a family I always check it out on Common Sense Media. The site has tons of information on movies and video games. It gives the actual rating, gives info on violence, language, consumerism, sex and several other categories. It has a place for parents to rate the movies as well as a place for kids to rate the movies.
That is a basic overview of current media rules. I imagine they will change over time as our children grow and technology advances. I have blogged about Teens and Facebook and Kids and Media in the past.
Contrary to what some people may think, having these rules in place does not make my kids social misfits. Adalia has adjusted to community college with ease, excelling academically and making friends. Judah and Enoch have plenty of non-homeschooling friends in Boy Scouts. We have rules, they follow them and it leads to a more-or-less peaceful home.
What type of media limits do you have in your house?