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Children to parents: put the phone away

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October 22, 2021

Parents would spend less time on their phones if their children made the rules, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Washington surveyed 249 families which had children between ten and 17 years old. Participants were asked what rules were in place in their households about the use of smartphones, tablets and computers.

The children were also asked what rules they would introduce for their parents if they were given the chance. Researchers were able to group the majority of the answers into categories. These included a rule that parents be more “present”. There would be a total ban on phone use in certain circumstances – for example, when they talk to their children.

The youngsters also said they wanted their parents to use technology in moderation, not to use their phones at all while driving, even when waiting at traffic lights, and not to be “hypocrites”. Parents should abide by the same rules they apply to their children, such as staying off the internet during meal times, the children argued.

Many children wanted to introduce a ban on “oversharing” online. They said their parents should not share any photos or information about them without their explicit consent. In fact, twice as many children cited oversharing as a concern than parents in the survey.

Children often “found [content shared online] embarrassing and felt frustrated when their parents continued to do it”, said University of Michigan assistant professor Sarita Schoenebeck.

Earlier this month, legal experts in France warned parents that sharing certain photos on social media could lead to prison sentences if their children object.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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