I text regularly with several of my grandchildren – it’s a wonderful way to keep in touch during the times when we can’t be together.

Typically, they are great about responding, but every once in a while I don’t get a reply text. It’s usually because either their parents have taken the phone away or the phones are out of power.

When this happens, I don’t mind. I hate the thought of children having phones attached to them at all times. While it may feel discouraging to them, I hope it actually makes them feel free! Having your phone taken away is a great excuse to not reply to the endless stream of texts that come their way.

It reminds me of the typical parenting agreements and rules created around curfew or being home at certain times. Kids often turn to these rules as a way to get themselves out of difficult situations.

“Sorry, I promised my Mom I would be home at 8 tonight!”


I hope that many families can do this around smartphones and other electronic devices too. The current research on smartphones and texting is disturbing:

  • Kids send an average of 100 texts each day
  • 84 percent of teens take their phones to bed
  • Teens are awake about six minutes before they check their phones.

Actually many of us parents resemble the above research, too. The point is that while technology is a great thing, and we know it allows us to be more productive and accessible, we don’t want it to own us. Let’s help our kids learn this early.

What few steps or rules would help your kids?

All families and kids are different, and this is probably something you should work out with your children’s input if they are over eight. But these might be candidates:

  • All phones are collected and stored after 8pm.
  • No phones are allowed during dinner or breakfast. This means parents too!
  • No phones are allowed while homework is being done.
  • No phones are allowed while driving. Again, for parents too.

In the best of all worlds, parents would be supportive by not accessing any technology during any of the four circumstances above—that’s right, no phones, no television, no tablets, no computers. As psychologist Sherry Turkle argues in a recent article in The Atlantic, it’s time to reclaim conversation by reclaiming attention.